Copyright © by Mark A. Laughlin
I thank my opponents who have written impassioned responses to my letter concerning the Ski Tax and my evaluation of Dennis Poppinga. It is true that I did abstract from the actions of Poppinga and make certain judgments about him. I don't retract my judgment, but many have viewed my evaluations as insults and one of them was apparently misinterpreted.
I said that Poppinga is a socialist. I meant it. A socialist is "an advocate of public ownership of land and management of industries." That is what the Ski Tax proposal is. I wasn't using the word in name calling, but in identifying his fundamental political position.
I said that Poppinga is an elitist. I meant that too. An elitist is someone who believes that, because of their superior insight, they can determine what is best for the rest of us. And it doesn't matter if it is one individual dictating to the all or the 51% majority that believes itself justified in making decisions for the other 49%. Again, I don't mean it as an insult, but as a valid identification of Poppinga's words and actions.
I did make reference to Poppinga's playboy activities. This led some to infer that I meant that he entered the Rec center in a robe, smoking a pipe and accompanied by an entourage of half naked women. However, there is no justification, within the context of my letter, to believe that I was referring to some kind of sexual promiscuity on Poppinga's part. A playboy is "one who wastes time and money on amusement." And that is exactly what I meant...the only problem is that he is wasting public time and public money on these amusements.
I stand by my judgment, but will gladly accept being corrected. I am NOT engaging in name calling, just identifying and judging the public actions of Dennis Poppinga. If you are confronted with a thief and you identify him as a thief, it is not an insult but a valid statement. I can think of circumstances that would lead me to change my judgment: IF Mr. Poppinga is not responsible for his inability to move Parks and Recreation toward privatization due to the edicts of his higher-ups AND if Mr. Poppinga declares publicly that he is for privatization of Parks and Recreation; then he is not guilty and my evaluation is wrong.
Contrary to counter statements, I do not posses a "dislike for recreation in our community." I DO dislike when recreators believe that they have a right to pass along some of the costs of their endeavor to others! I spent almost ten years in the sport of motocross. I never believed that I had a right to force others to subsidize my activities (ok, mom and dad excepted-but they were free to reject my teenage impositions). By what standard could I claim such a right? There can be no moral justification for the belief that one group of people has the right to enslave another group of people. I would love to be able to go skiing. Amazingly enough I haven't gone skiing since I left Kentucky almost 10 years ago. But I don't want anyone to mistake my desire to go skiing, with wanting to make others pay for it.
Mr. Porter, whom I applaud for having the business ability to run a skating rink, errs when he says that he therefore has eliminated "the cost of this recreational activity from the city." The point is that this is not a legitimate function of the city to begin with. Perhaps, to Mr. Porter's credit, he did prevent further egregious socialist activities on the part of the Parks and Recreation Department; but the point is that any such actions by the city are wrong.
I know many people were shaken when I compared the Ski Tax proponents to the thugs in New York City. In my opinion, Mr. Porter confirmed my comparison when he said that "voters will decide on [the ski tax] in true democratic fashion." Those thugs, who outnumbered the Watkins family voted to take their money and they were prepared to back their vote with force--granted it wasn't the discrete kind of force that our city leaders would resort to, but force backs them just the same. This is supposed to be America the republic. Not Amerika some socialist democracy. Voting was meant to elect the administrators of the law, not decide who will be sacrificed for the sake of whom.
Another quote from Mr. Porter I use with reservations. I cannot imagine that he meant what he said for it would make him an elitist on the grandest scale. He said "those who have not [used Eagle Rock] will not be supporting something they won't be using in the 'Ski Evanston' project if they simply use it." In other words, though I would prefer to buy a new mountain bike next year, I should be content to submit to the majoritorian decree and use what ever is made available to me at public expense.
I am not disputing the study that claims that the ski resort could be self-sufficient. I am saying that a Ski Tax is not the proper means to achieving a ski resort in Evanston. The moral method to achieving an Evanston Ski Resort would be for businessmen to draw up a complete financial plan, present it to a banker seeking a loan on its financial merits, offering stock to Evanston citizens or seek business and community sponsors like many of the motocross tracks I knew (perhaps all of those motels, restaurants, lounges, etc. who will allegedly benefit) . In either case all transactions are voluntary. No one is forced to support something they believe to be useless or a financial folly. Let me make this clear: I am not opposed to a ski resort. I am not opposed to a senior citizens center. I am not opposed to a new golf course in the valley. I am not opposed to indoor event centers at the fairgrounds or a museum expansion. I AM passionately opposed to any of those being socialist endeavors, i.e. forcing everyone, regardless of their personal values, to support any of these goals. No, Mr. Deru, you do NOT have to ask me for my approval for any of these goals. But if you want to sacrifice ME to achieve YOUR ends, I DO have a problem with that.