Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Donít drink the Kool-Aid

There's been a lot of hooha spouted recently about the imminent demise of Ketchum and the need to "revitalize." I spent some time crunching the numbers and am persuaded that our economy (as measured through local-option-tax revenue) is growing at a comfortable and sustainable pace. I wouldn't say that things are perfect, but they aren't dire.

My findings stand in stark contrast to the rhetoric that comes from some corners, but for the most part those corners are filled with people who have large profits on their mind.

And therein lies the real challenge that faces Ketchum. If you look back over the last 15 years, our policy has often been driven by people who were too busy counting their money to care about the town's long term prosperity. The result has been a reduced labor pool, higher costs, and a town that's hollowed out as people move south. Anyone with a brain could see it coming, and Alan Greenspan would have had kittens if he'd seen our growth rate, but we were led to squander our future for someone else's short-term gain, and we weren't aware enough to say no.

The Kool-Aid du jour is the idea that a new period of extreme growth will cure the problems caused by the previous extreme growth, but economic theory indicates exactly the opposite. Massive development will enrich the very few while leaving the costs to be borne by the many. Inflation in housing and labor costs, congestion on our roads and the continued flight of residents south are just some of those costs, and for most of us those costs will overwhelm any gain we receive.

Don't drink the Kool-Aid! If we engage in critical thinking and moderate growth, then Ketchum has the chance to be a livable, profitable and enjoyable town for all of us.

Lee Chubb


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