This is capitalism, after all
October 1, 2007
Response to news story: “Should they stay, or should they go?” (Inside Business, Sept. 25).
Instead of browbeating Aspen real estate investors and attempting to shame them (through repeated accusations of “greed!”) into acting in a way that’s counter to their best financial interests, why don’t The Aspen Times and Mayor Mick do something constructive: Why don’t they “raise public awareness” in a positive way, instead of inciting anger and mistrust, irresponsibly, by using inflammatory terms like “greed”?
Why not appeal to the citizens of Aspen for positive solutions, instead of resorting to the familiar “evil business” whipping boy? Why not call forth the citizens’ “better angels,” instead of appealing to their basest instincts (envy, mistrust)?
Aspen has more liberal “do-gooders” per square foot than anywhere else on planet Earth. Coincidentally (since we all know Republicans control all of America’s wealth), there are also more billionaires with homes here than in Los Angeles or Dubai. These are folks who voted for Al Gore and John Kerry: people concerned about the planet, “the homeless,” “the uninsured,” and the little guy being forced out by higher rents. Great philanthropists who might, conceivably, step forward, open their checkbooks, and make the Mill Street Commercial Center a protected, Aspen-owned, rent-increase-free zone.
Hey ” it could happen (hearken back to what Hillary said recently about “suspension of disbelief”).
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Why doesn’t The Aspen Times seek a proactive solution to purchases of property in the commercial core, by private investors who prize the convenience of the local laundromat? Or, if private assistance from Aspen’s philanthropic community is too much to hope for, why don’t the editors propose that Aspen’s laws be changed to read, “All future purchases of property in Aspen’s commercial core must be reviewed by City Council and pass Mick Ireland’s (or current mayor’s) completely subjective “fairness test”?
I’ll tell you why you will never see this happen: The voters wouldn’t stand for it. We still honor the fundamental notion in America that people have the right to transact business by purchasing and selling property in the free market that our laws protect.
Mick Ireland should feel free to purchase the Mill Street property, and drastically reduce the rents, so that Aspenites will never have to fear losing their martial arts dojo or their tile store. This would require that Mick demonstrate some business acumen, some willingness to assume risk and some faith in Aspen’s future. In other words, don’t hold your breath.
Similarly, The Aspen Times should feel free to turn its editorial guns on the Red Mountain tycoons: Perhaps they can be shamed into ponying up the purchase price of the Mill Street property, and saving us all from the evil clutches of greed that threaten life as we know it.
Get off your butts and do something proactive to change the laws, if that’s what you think is best for Aspen, but stop kicking people around, after the fact, when they’ve played by the rules and have done nothing for which they ought to be ashamed.