Wealth destroys community life
July 26, 2006
The city of Aspen and Denver facilitator Chris Gates are to be commended for an excellent presentation on Wednesday, July 19.
However, in attempting to locate Aspen’s main difficulties, they failed to present the heart of the problem … present market value of Aspen real estate (commercial and residential).
When employees and service contractors are required to live in a town other than where they work, traffic, noise, congestion, and parking difficulties will inevitably result.
New construction in Aspen could miraculously cease today, yet the fact remains that existing Aspen businesses and residences require labor and maintenance which are located or headquartered downvalley, thereby necessitating the Highway 82 commute.
Additionally, the current type of owner-occupant of Aspen property (commercial and residential) is wholly unsuited to outdoor/wilderness living as evidenced by the size and cost of residential property, and the type and cost of retail goods offered in commercial property.
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Clearly, the person who “requires” a wealthy and spacious home (of the Aspen kind) is dedicated to a life indoors which is entirely inconsistent with the intent of the person who moved to a community, when in its ‘infancy’ (if you will) was dedicated to a love of the outdoor life.
Additionally, inordinate wealth destroys community life in consequence of its powers of dislocation; that is, it forces the economic classes beneath it to move away, thereby effecting a local elitism or exclusivity, yet nonetheless requiring that lesser class’s labor and services.
The sad example of an attempt toward secular canonization of a recently deceased felon who held considerable property here indicates just such an attitude.
And, not to be overlooked in this regard is the spiritual cost to communities.
In this era of unabashed proselytizing by right-wing Christian fundamentalists (Catholic and Protestant), one must question the legitimacy of intent regarding church attendance.
Twice in successive weekends, I listened to homilies on this valley’s homelessness and social injustice only later to observe real estate advertising in the church bulletin.
In one instance, a realtor/parishioner offered the church a $500 gift for each “closing” effected by her ad in the church bulletin … (shame on her for her tastelessness; shame on the parish for accepting any real estate advertising in such an obviously un-Christian market).
Unfortunately, for Aspen (and the other once pristine mountain valleys of the American West), the wise prophets of the ’60s and ’70s who warned of the then potential abuses now present were not heeded; and, sad to say, as a result, the problems have become so massive that they are beyond resolution.