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The wealthy are why Aspen prospers

Dear Editor:

After reading Robert Frank’s letter (“The little book behind the Little Annie’s battle,” letters, Feb. 2, The Aspen Times) about my Jan. 26 column, I am more convinced than ever that he has not got a clue about history, economics or Aspen, and the notion that our mayor would give his sophomoric writings any credence scares the daylights out of me.

Aspen’s beauty, culture and community are not “threatened” by wealthy people, nor have they created “economic and social messes” in Aspen as Frank states.

It is only through the benevolent generosity of wealthy Aspen residents and visitors that Aspen, as we know it today, exists at all.

Who does Frank think created and supports our extraordinary cultural facilities and programs? Who does he think pays the tax bills that support our “free” transportation, our incredibly generous affordable-housing programs, our open spaces, trails and other amenities too voluminous to mention? Who does he think employs the thousands who are lucky enough to work and live here?

Does any serious-minded person even think we would have skiing in Aspen if not for the profits derived from real estate development and the exceptional financial support of one very wealthy family?

Frank is selling books based on some half-baked theory that wealthy people have suddenly become irrational risk-takers and, in doing so, are wreaking havoc on our economy and our culture.

In truth, financial success as we know it in this country always has been premised on the willingness of individuals to take risks and create businesses and products that make our lives better and, yes, richer too.

As anyone who has ever started a business knows, there are bound to be booms and busts along the way. Most of us understood these risks and celebrate them as our right to take a chance at creating a better life for ourselves, our families, the people we employ and the communities we support.

It also helps explain those of us who have dared to take some risks and earned some rewards have such little patience for people who have never created a job or even tried to pay their own way, yet have plenty to complain about instead of just saying “thank you.”

Perhaps Frank should take his next vacation in Venezuela or Cuba, where the government has seen to it that no one can succeed in a way that allows them to create the wealth that supports such extraordinary places as Aspen.

Charlie Leonard

Aspen


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