They’re rich, not evil
Dear Editor:I can’t tell you how tiresome it is to read yet another excoriation of wealth by an Aspen Times columnist (“Great wealth,” Feb. 26).Mr. Andersen’s latest piece piously strokes the all the familiar and comfortable touchstones of the liberal, leftist world view: The reflexive Marxist cant about “conspicuous consumerism,” conspicuous “waste,” and (the inevitable) “piggishness.””Door openers,” “valets,” and “work crews for second homes,” are styled by Mr. Andersen, “… a waste of labor.”. This suggests to me that Mr. Andersen has in mind a more productive way for all those carpenters, painters, electricians, plumbers, and other craftsmen to pass their time.Perhaps this labor force could be conscripted by the state to build public housing for the (cue drum roll) “less fortunate,” instead of allowing the housing market, and tired concepts like free enterprise, capitalism, and each person’s own view of his “manifest destiny” to dictate what he does, and for whom he does it.No, I’m afraid this just won’t do. Social justice demands that we redistribute the spoils, punish “the piggy,” and reward society’s wards with yet more gratuitous giveaways.Another irritant is Mr. Andersen’s silly assumption that wealth and virtue are mutually incompatible entities. A wealthy person, then, must be an evil, intolerant, exploitive, consumption-driven, narcissist – a person of little value – who consumes many times his own worth in scare resources.My own experience is at odds with Mr. Andersen’s: I’ve found that wealthy, successful people tend to exemplify the sorts of virtues lauded by Socrates and his pupil. They prize hard work. They place enormous value on social freedom, equality of opportunity in the workplace, generosity, and the sense that there is an obligation to give back to society.There is no virtue attached to poverty, and the reverse is self-evidently true: There is nothing inherently evil about a man who possesses great wealth.What is evil is the envy that infects our country today. Envy is that basest of all human emotions. It is ugly, it is destructive, and it allows our political class to perpetuate itself in office by promising to reward unsuccessful Americans at the expense of successful Americans.From my lower middle-class vantage point – and as a man who makes his living serving the wealthy of Aspen – I feel that I owe a debt of gratitude to those in our community who make the next rung on the ladder to success both accessible and attractive.I am a builder and a designer, and I tip my hat to every Aspen citizen who vacations here and allows me to work in his home. Thank you for my employment, for making me feel proud at the end of each day, and for allowing me to provide for my family.Rather than envying you your property, what I covet is your creativity, your work ethic, your investment savvy, and your willingness to support my community by spending your hard-earned cash in any way you see fit.Addison GardnerCarbondale
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