Letter: Memo to the entitled
October 27, 2015
In response to Glenn Beaton's "Memo to the class warfare whiners: Grow up!" (Commentary, The Aspen Times, Oct. 25):
Excellent civics lesson, Pop. Let me tell you about another downtown-penthouse-owning specimen, soaking in his hot tub like his neighbor, your up-by-the-bootstraps Dr. Bobby. Let's call this class Victor Gerard.
Gerard was born into a wealthy family and had all the advantages of stable parenting, fine preparatory schooling and a full roster of extracurricular activities to satiate his budding mind and body. Gerard was accepted into a top-tier college, no problemo. Cost was no object.
There, he mostly frittered away his time chasing coeds, partying and dabbling in majors that were not so much "fun" as thoroughly effortless. Let's say business, with its vague professional ring. Like Bobby's freeloading siblings, Gerard likewise avoided risks and did not obsess about his grades. Then he graduated and frittered away a few more years "finding himself" while backpacking in Europe or tooling around on a house boat or, dare I say, acting a ski bum in Aspen while coolly withdrawing funds from a padded bank account.
Are you with me? Then that crafty Gerard turned 28 and figured out that all he had to do was cut his hair, put on a suit and tie and inform his father that he had finally matured, had abandoned the folly of partying and dalliance and was ready for the real world. A few phone calls were made, and Gerard was brought in as a broker into a financial firm in Connecticut dealing in institutional investment, where within five years his annual commissions were well into six figures. That — coupled with access to ample capital to purchase a home, a vehicle, excellent health care and, of course, the ability to hobnob with all the other financial jerks — allowed him to afford a downtown penthouse in Aspen where he now spends two to five weeks of every year.
Now, can you see why that scenario might frustrate a hardworking 30-something with a master's who still has to bartend to pay his rent in this bizarre resort town? You're right — we all make choices. I don't suppose year-round locals are upset about a person who worked hard serving society and can now reap the benefits of that illustrious career. They're upset because they feel that that's what they're doing and yet they know for a fact they will never be able to afford even the most modest of homes anywhere in this valley, never mind a downtown penthouse.
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The outrage is that they have to choose between "a balanced life in beautiful places" or the qualities that your commentary suggests must accompany financial success: "divorce, estranged children, premature health problems." Sounds like a hoot. The crisis for Aspen isn't that millionaires such as Bobby might pick up and leave because they feel they are being dragged under by freeloaders. The crisis is that a massive pool of talent that forms the infrastructure of a community is being forced out. Must they choose between the land they love and financial solvency? Are you so far resigned to the viability of the American Dream that you believe these are the only two choices — or ought to be? How sad. I can see how you might confuse children with those who fight for opportunity. Both can imagine possibilities beyond the reality they find themselves in.