Essay by Jim Ludwig
The West – August 1998 – Colorado Central Magazine
Glad to see you made the big time as a guest columnist at The Post, now you are part of “a place where greed, exploitation and profit are the name of the game,” to quote a friend and author.
I can hear you say, “That is not fair, Jim”. But neither is your accusation that the West was developed by and for those reasons. Am I guilty because I’ve taken a rundown forty acres and developed a nursery that supports several families and sells plants for a profit? Would it be better if the elite were to tell me if I were to grow native plants or not? Would the West be better off if the land I’ve exploited for profit, because I’m greedy, had continued as a hay field?
I’m an old man, Steve, and I can compare the development of our country using a relatively free market system, with any other political or economic system throughout the world. It saddens me to hear bright young writers like you bashing the system that made you economically secure, and continues to leave you free.
I prefer to think that prospectors were pursuing a dream with hard work and risk. Miners worked for a better life than they had in the “Old Country,” and found it. People buy condos in Vail because they desire one. Service people clean condos because they have chosen a better life than they had, and they live in Leadville because they choose to. Real estate moves because there is a market of people choosing to buy. A business community develops and chooses to sell to and support this type of endeavor. There is no conspiracy of greed, just a lot of free people making free choices in a free land.
Your comparison of the development of Leadville and Vail is valid; your allusion to some sort of conspiracy of greed and exploitation is not. The potential for profit drives it all, and in many cases that potential is never realized. The few that are successful do not deserve to be criticized.
Jim Ludwig Buena Vista