Biting the Aspen tourists’ hands that feed you
January 8, 2018
The editors of The Aspen Times should dismiss copy editor Sean Beckwith for the column he wrote on Jan. 3 ("When the Aspen tourists wear out their welcome"). For those who missed it, Beckwith was highly critical of the billionaire visitors to the town who made his life miserable over the Chiasmas holidays.
I understand Beckwith's dismay. It is one of the reasons we moved to Denver. (The availability of good hospitals and access to good air transportation were far more important, but we did want to escape the vulgar rich who populate the town.) Yes, the utter banality of the town left us looking for something better. Clearly Beckwith has the same problem. He should move on.
However, we recognized that Aspen needs the rich Beckwith finds so obnoxious. Without them there would be no Aspen Skiing Co. Without them there would be no Aspen Institute. Without them there would be no Aspen Art Museum. Without them there would be no Aspen Music Festival.
The cost of operating Skico has to be huge. Because the company is private, neither I nor Beckwith know the cost of operating the four mountains in Aspen. However, the publicly held Vail Resorts Inc. reported that it spent $1 billion operating its mountain resorts in the fiscal year ending in July 2017. My guess is Skico spends around $600 million. It is the billionaires, not the locals, who cover these costs. Without their help Aspen might have a rope-tow on Aspen mountain. Maybe there would be nothing.
If one is going to live in Aspen, one must learn to tolerate and even welcome the rich — as obnoxious as they are. It is the cost of enjoying a life one probably could not otherwise afford.
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