Richard Carnes: Surviving fiscal infidelity in Vail Valley |

Richard Carnes: Surviving fiscal infidelity in Vail Valley

Richard Carnes
Vail, CO, Colorado

I have never purposely cheated anyone financially, but I do know what it feels like to be cheated (on).

A certain ex-wife comes to mind.

But that’s another story and already has me off-topic, so let’s get back to the issue of the day: wealth destruction through swindling.

Thanks to AIG, Citigroup, Bear Stearns, Madoff, Vilar and the rest of the gang of thieves, fiscal infidelity has become the new face of international terrorism, with greed being the weapon of choice and poverty the inherent consequence for victims, a category to which you and I probably both belong.

While Republicans waste every waking moment still attempting to blame everyone but themselves for this greed and derivative-based disaster, the Democrats are busy breaking their own arms patting each other on the back for the recent turnaround and looking for other ways to take advantage of public sentiment, no matter how short-lived either might be.

Both are little more than the verbal equivalency of a tongue depressor, making the rest of us gag as we cough up what modest amounts we have remaining in our 401k’s, college funds, IRAs and mattresses.

And call me cynical (go ahead, I’m used to it), but I am afraid there are still more shoes to drop in this crisis than an aging spider suffering from gout.

To make matters worse, now we have the reactionary D.C. brainiacs using taxation as a form of punishment (those damned AIG bonuses), which is not a road I believe Americans wish to travel no matter how smooth it temporarily feels. Yet I do admit that ridiculous corporate claims of “hurting the executive talent pool” by not giving the bonuses seem shallow at best, disingenuous at worst.

I say screw the pool. It needs to be drained, the slime scraped off the bottom, and then refilled.

However, on the local front, I also believe credit needs to be given to town of Vail employees Stan Zemler (town manager), Matt Mire (town attorney) and Municipal Judge Buck Allen for bucking the government teat trend.

All three did the right thing by gracefully declining the 4 percent merit raises the Town Council was trying to force them to accept in spite of recent sales tax losses.

OK, maybe “force” is too strong of a word, but the council should have known better in the first place with our current economic climate. It was the worst collective sense of timing since Bobby Ginn said to this people, “Hey, I have an extra $35 million lying around. Let’s use it to buy that cute little spot just south of Minturn.”

I don’t care if raises are deserved or not, extreme fiscal prudence needs to be practiced right now, whether we’re talking tax dollars or the private sector.

And speaking of the private sector, Rob Katz deserves props (a silly, yet somehow appropriate euphemism for “giving credit”) for his handling of the Vail Resorts wage reductions.

No matter how some are looking at it, life is always a wee bit easier accepting a pay cut as opposed to having a job cut.

Life can always be so much worse than it actually is.

Richard Carnes of Edwards writes a column for the Daily. He can be reached at

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