Roger Marolt: Roger This
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado
I’m sure Atlas shrugged as he hoisted the heavens upon his shoulder and got a glimpse of a certain small island chain in the Caribbean Sea. I’m not going to give it away. You’ll have to go exploring yourself. But, rest assured, once you discover it there will be no doubt in your mind that it is the place I speak of.
Before I get started, I have to define a word or people are going to get mad when they read the next paragraph and say I’m stereotyping people, etc., etc. The word is “lazy.” The dictionary definition of “lazy,” which I will not use, is: the unwillingness to work. I prefer to define it the way most of us usually mean it. That is: the ability of someone else to be blissfully engaged in something we wish we could be doing. You know this is the common definition by the way people say it. It is almost always said with scorn, which often veils jealousy. The word is rarely used dispassionately as you would use “brown” to describe the color of someone’s hair, say.
So, the people of the Caribbean Island chain that I am referring to are lazy. I will go so far to say that they are incredibly lazy. In fact, they are the laziest people I have ever seen, and that says a lot for a guy who grew up in Aspen.
I have the dual perspective of being able to say these people are hyper-lazy as a tourist and as a person who does business there, or more accurately – tries to get business done there.
As a tourist I have woken up at 7 a.m. to catch an eight o’clock ferry that didn’t show up until 9:30. Imagine rushing through the early morning heat and humidity to get to the dock at quarter to eight and not finding a soul. Is it a freak thing? No. “Da ferry been leaven a dis time faever, mon.” So why didn’t anybody change the sign or the schedules? “Don know, mon.” Well I know: It’s because everybody is lazy.
As for the business side of things, two years ago I had a meeting with a local government worker over a tax issue. “Dat a simple ting to feex, mon,” he told me. Assured by his lyrically pleasant accent, I left the building via the elevator and walked down to the dock to catch my boat. Lo and behold, the government man I had just been talking taxes with was already bellied up to the bar at the marina. The back entrance to that government building must be a greased slide! It was about two in the afternoon then and for all I know that man is still there now with his rum and punch because the issue has not been settled yet.
Why are the people down there so lazy? It’s for the same reason dogs lie on the sofa while you go to the store to buy their food – because they can! If you were born in this country or have lived there for 20 years the government gives you seaside land for $700 to build your house on. If you need an employee down there, you must hire a local unless you can prove that no local can possibly do the job you need to have done. If you need a nuclear physicist, you’re in luck. Import whomever you please. For everything else, you must hire a local. Needless to say there is no point in firing a lazy local worker because you will have to hire another to replace him or her that is likely just as lazy.
This adds up to making a place where outsiders generally pay a steep price to live. Building a vacation home costs three times as much and takes five times as long to erect as a house of half the quality as anywhere else. This is after you wait a year or two to get a permit.
The place is a living example that proves everything the iconic government hand knuckle rapper Ayn Rand ever said … except one: The place is not a disaster! Tourists and second-home owners flock there! The inefficiency of business, universally bad service, exorbitant cost, and the perpetual laziness of the locals works like a charm. Visitors can’t get enough of it!
Why? Because the locals are delightfully content and kind. When you are there, they make you feel damn good about getting lazy yourself!
While it is true that nothing significant will likely ever be discovered or invented there the locals will continue to take the Real World in dosages they have tolerance for. Those who crave a bigger fix will risk addiction by leaving and finding it on the mainland. And, visitors who have made millions working overtime will continue to flock there, providing support through their visits, hoping to discover the tranquilly satisfying lives they’ve sought and which the locals have achieved by doing everything just the opposite.
It explains why Atlas shrugged. He didn’t understand it either.
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