Living poor and voting rich

  Your two-part series on the plight of the ski bum inspired this letter (HCN, 10/25/04: As the town hollows out, one Aspen neighborhood thrives) (HCN,.11/8/04: A new breed of 'ski bums' is anything but). Aspen is what it is today because young bohemians who supposedly believed in equality among the classes, wanted to shut the gates to Aspen and deny others the equal opportunity to live in this rare, scenic place.

There was only one way for the bourgeoisie to survive in paradise. That was to find a way to balance the conflict between the opposing forces of natural justice and social justice. Thus we have two Aspens: One where natural justice is served by recognizing the inequality between the rich and less-than-rich classes. The other, where social justice is served by sharing the wealth.

Aspen’s bourgeoisie adopted the down-zoning that moved many more of them down-valley. Then they voted to move a limited number of bobos — bourgeois bohemians — back in to live under strict rules they put on affordable housing. The bobos, not the rich, voted to have government move the poor out and then voted to move them back in.

Finding a comfort level with inequality is rational because it lets the rich and the poor survive here. Those who disagree with this social contract should try proposing an alternative to the zoning that made Aspen into a gated community.

This social contract exists because inequality is a benefit when the poor get to share other people’s money. And the bobos in paradise wouldn’t change a thing.

Be brave, comrades.

KNCB Moore
Aspen, Colorado