Last week Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan to be his running mate and, presumably, the Republican nomination for vice-president.
If he had his way, Ryan would privatize social security, cut back on education, reduce Medicare and Medicade, cut off family planning funding, ban same sex marriages, oppose the right of same sex couples to adopt, expand the right to carry concealed weapons, weaken background checks for gun purchasers, toss out the American-born children of illegal immigrants even if they attend college or serve in the military, and generally turn America into a land so foreign that a drive to Bellis Fair Mall for that extra gallon of cheap milk would be like a drive across another planet.
Paul Ryan is an acolyte of Ayn Rand. To enhance his electability, Ryan now denies that he is a Randroid and is attempting to distance himself from Rand’s philosophy, but his track record speaks for itself. As the self-styled founder of the Objectivist movement, it was Rand’s view that the only acceptable way to organize society was to ensure that individual rights were paramount. Rand rejected any form of collective action for the betterment of the community, arguing instead that only unbridled capitalism and unfettered individual rights would ensure that society continued and survived. In Rand’s view government should provide police protection, military protection and little else. Our Whistler 2020 document and The Whistler Center for Sustainability would make Rand roll over in her grave
Rand’s philosophies and Ryan’s policies are fabulous if you are doing the trampling, not so great if you are the trampled. What does any of this have to do with Whistler, other than the obvious question of whether the outcome of the American election will enhance or hurt skier visits?
There is an interesting parallel between the upcoming, highly-touted Obama vs. Romney battle and the proposed Whistler learning campus. Both battles (and slugfests they will be) revolve around the same question – to what extent should government interfere in the workings of the market place? In local terms, to what extent should the RMOW get involved in the delivery of private education?
In the socialist red corner, at the Hall, we have a group of experienced professionals who are well trained in land use planning, but if local history is any indication, not so successful at entrepreneurship and cutting deals. The planners are convinced that notwithstanding their lack of free enterprise experience they, their consultant and their committee will sort out whether a learning campus can be a viable business in Whistler and how best to do it. One thing that cannot be denied, however, is that these folks care deeply about Whistler.
In the free enterprise blue corner, promoting the campus, we have a group of highly successful business people who aren’t about to put a nickel of their own money into the campus project unless they are pretty sure they can make a few million dollars. It is their view that the RMOW should regulate zoning, collect taxes, deliver services and otherwise stay out of the way. It is their hope, and the hope of this writer, that the days when “capitalist” and “profit” were profanities in council chambers have been relegated to a dark and distant past.
Refereeing in the middle we have a set of councillors whose experience levels range from small town optimist through successful property developer to an internationally experienced business executive. Council’s fundamental job will be to balance the advice from staff against the promises of the proponent.
The way I see it, there is one key question relating to entrepreneurial risk that staff has a professional obligation to ask, and council has a political obligation to get some very complete and convincing answers to. If the learning campus fails, what is Plan B? If the proponent cannot answer that question, they shouldn’t get through the first round.