Super Size Us, Part I | Dispatches
by Rob Schultheis
Apr 17, 2008 | 2255 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
“Growth for its own sake is the philosophy of the cancer cell, the late Ed Abbey once said. He was referring to the inexplicable value system of the 20th century, in which an economy that grows ten percent annually is somehow automatically better than one that grows nine percent or less, even if its most dramatic consequences are pollution, environmental destruction and human misery.

Follow free market economics to its logical conclusion and the Wal-Mart super store is grander and more transcendent than the cathedral at Chartres or the Taj Mahal, and World Hot Dog Eating Champion Takeru Kobayashi is as great an athlete as David Beckham or Reinhold Messner…and a Telluride with ten times as many people, gridlocked traffic on downtown streets, conifers dying from bark beetle infestations and aspen stands withering away, corporate jets thundering in and out of the airport 24 hours a day and a Nosferatu of a San Miguel River poisoned with golf course fertilizer and spinoffs of Agent Orange is ten times as good as what we have now.

The recent beat-down of the Lift Seven conspirators let the metaphorical cat out of the bag for everyone to see. Deprived of the opportunity to squeeze more millions of dollars in commissions when locals voted overwhelmingly to preserve the Valley Floor in perpetuity, Telluride realtors decided that they would have to settle for mangling the southwest corner of town. Suddenly we were told that the West Pacific neighborhood was a kind of high-altitude South Bronx, a dismal slum whose miserable inhabitants couldn’t wait to flee while ‘dozers leveled their cardboard shanties and wigwams made from flattened beer cans.

The usual special interest groups, the same drones who fought unsuccessfully to scuttle the VF preservation, all wanted a piece of the empty real estate that would remain.

There were all the usual suspects: the “We’re Doing It All for the Kids” brigade, the “Let’s Build a Bigger, Much More Expensive School to Replace the Perfectly Good One We Have” coven, the “We Need More Athletic Fields Because We’re Too Lazy to Drive Our Kids Ten Minutes to the Ones We Already Have” cabal, the “Guess What We Need Next? A Gigantic New Medical Center, Even Though the One We Already Have Sometimes Gets Only a Single Patient a Day During Off-Season,” and so on.

Telluride is unique in a multitude of ways; one of the strangest is the fact that the conservatives here, like the current mayor and the majority on the Town Council, are the closest thing to a Socialist regime outside of Cuba. They believe in lavish public works projects, limitless government spending, a huge government bureaucracy, and policy-making by an elite minority behind closed doors (funny how the political extremes on the Left and Right always end up resembling each other).

But back to the Lift 7 controversy: I’m not sure which is sillier or more reprehensible, the idea that this valley is nothing more than an orange, to be squeezed and squeezed until all the juice is gone – what a sad way to view these incredible mountains that provide us with so much beauty and joy – or the concept of realtors as holy warriors of “Sustainability.”

Let’s get real: sustainability is to the real estate business as a meadow is to a bulldozer, or the Endangered Species Act is to the “Wise Use” movement and all the other “God Gave Man Dominion Over the Forests, the Animals, the Earth, Seas and


Thanks, Big Guy. Now Step Aside And Watch Us ‘Dominion’ the Hell Out of Your Creation…”

(To be concluded...)
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