Sunday, June 7, 2020


Moab, UT

59.4 F

    Waging populist class warfare in Moab

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    Forty years and eco-socialist osmosis has wrecked local government. How did I miss that?

    The idyllic and romantic Moab of [a recent letter writer’s] memories is gone, gone, and will never exist again. Sadly, we cannot snap our fingers … poof … and bring it back.

    But what about Moab’s big-boned, diverse economy from back then? Where are the Mac & Hacks of yesteryear? Dusty ore trucks rumbling down Main Street every 15-30 minutes. Where are the Plateau Supplies and Atlas Minerals, the Maacos and Sewing factories?

    Small manufacturing came and went, perhaps it will come and go again. When will the price of a barrel of oil ever be high enough again to make drilling profitable around here? Has top-grade marketable lumber ever been logged off the La Sals? Rough-sawn ponderosa and cedar posts, though very useful, are just about it.

    I watched as one of the last orchards in the valley was ripped out and replaced with townhomes. Now all that remains is the name, on a sign, Orchard Villas. The Fortune 500 outfit I worked for pulled out in ’85 when oil shale went bust. During the same period houses downtown that today sell for $200,000 to $300,000 could be had for $20,000.

    All the unpleasantness described above was caused by factors completely beyond the control of the Moab community. Tourism was all that was left. Funny thing, too, most of it happened a decade before the first of urban transplant do-gooders began to show up.

    I’m afraid the real thrust of [the letter] is more sinister. What we have read in recent editions of The Times-Independent are examples of full on far right-wing “populist” class warfare. You can read the resentment and self-victimization from start to finish. Look at it: “out-of-town transplants, urbanites with advanced educations, eco-socialists, urban transplant do-gooders,” plus a silly analogy, dripping with sarcasm, about some “Thanos” character which equates the city council with what sounds like a very scary and evil dude.

    I don’t care one bit about the city council (planet Amarillo is hilarious). I don’t care about their ordinances. However, since our country’s founding, towns and cities have had every right to regulate their communities’ surroundings, infrastructure, zoning, etc. Based on the will of the majority, as is fitting in a democracy, whether for beautiful parks and leafy boulevards or heavy industry and polluted skies. Decisions are made by the people who show up.

    Nowadays all-American ideals like majority rule and the rule of law are tarred with the “socialist” brush.

    Another thing: in America people are free to travel and live wherever they wish. They are free to create opportunities for themselves and their families. People are also free to involve themselves in the communities where they settle, to whatever extent they wish.

    In the years since my wife and I came to Utah near the end of 1970, over 25 million people have followed us into the interior West. The population in Utah was under 1 million then; today the population is headed toward 4 million. Small wonder a few of them landed in Grand County.

    Industrial tourism on this scale cannot continue unchecked. We are not Las Vegas. Perhaps the Culinary Workers Union will sweep in from Vegas and organize every motel and restaurant in town, every convenience store and outfitter. High wages for workers and the consequent higher prices for tourists are just the kinds of checks a “mature tourist economy” needs.

    Awe gee, the right of workers to organize, there’s more socialism for ya. I am perfectly satisfied there are members of the community willing to grapple with the complex, thankless issues facing Moab and Grand County, now and in the future.

    – Kevin McGann
    Castle Valley

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