Real Estate is red hot. I just went and took a look at a one room “studio” in Granby that was priced around $100,000. No room for ping pong or even a little light bouncing off the walls.

I see that the local housing crisis is being met with big local projects like ROAM Winter Park (from the “low $700s”) and other projects that offer an “accessible” option for locals.

Fraser is preparing to offer deed restricted housing that can only be sold to residents who work full time. Work part time? No go. Retired? Gotta go. In other words there is no plan to house seasonal and mid to low level wage earners in Grand County. We are surrounded by lovely open space but there is apparently not an inch available for employee housing. Nothing for the teachers, the ski patrol, the retail workers or restaurant workers. If my personal experience is any indication this will only get much worse in Grand County.

I can only compare the situation here with that of Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley. Over the hill there have been many projects aimed at housing the otherwise unhouseable and thousands of locals are hunkering in place thanks to those efforts. It’s not nearly enough but at least they recognize the problem and are trying to address it. But with a $2 billion plus real estate market the pressure is intense to continue to cater to none but the ultra-wealthy.

We probably do not have as many billionaires here as in Aspen but big money is already ruling housing and real estate here.

The Aspen Daily News recently published an article discussing the effects of billionaires on the Aspen commercial real estate market. Turns out stuff is skewing on the expensive side. It’s no surprise that there are plenty of sellers willing to charge obscene amounts for a piece of Aspen — a price that only billionaires can afford. This makes the rarified air in Aspen particularly rich.

No offense to the 75 of so billionaires owning property in the Aspen area but their influence on the community is not what it could be. It could be argued that this also goes for billionaire influence on the rest of the world, too.

What a luxury to have the financial clout to radically improve so many things. If billionaires got together and worked collaboratively they could help tackle the housing crisis, streamline local transportation, create health care opportunities for workers, fund addiction services, invest in the local food movement, provide green energy, build parks and foster recreational opportunities.

There have been some rays of light. The valley’s nonprofit sector enjoys more philanthropy than most places. Some share, some don’t.

I see that Bill and Melinda Gates just donated $100 million to efforts to the coronavirus response. That could help some people. Billionaires, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

Unfortunately, we cannot turn our umbrellas upside down to gather benefits of living in the shadows of these castles. The shadows are mostly dark.

On February 26, Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman interviewed Anand Giridharadas, editor-at-large at Time magazine and author of “Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World.” The New York Times just published his latest work titled “The Billionaire Election: Does the world belong to them or to us?”

Goodman asked him to comment about the fact that two of the seven Democratic debaters were billionaires.

“A new story is emerging, a truer story, which is that a lot of those folks, and certainly that class of people, is up there because they are standing on other people’s backs. And they stand on people’s backs by using and abusing tax havens like Bermuda — hello, Bloomberg. They stand on people’s backs by profiting from an economy, like the financial sector that has destroyed the American dream for so many people — hello, Michael Bloomberg. They stand on people’s backs by lobbying for bottle-service public policy that is of private benefit to them but detrimental to the public. And I think Americans are actually waking up to the fact that we have been living in this, what I call this winners-take-all America, in which the country is not being run for Americans. It is being run for money.” he said.

This is disappointing news. I’d much rather believe that the ultra-wealthy were appreciating their extraordinary good fortune by passing most of it around to those who need assistance. This starts in the local community but should spread out as much as the largesse allows for.

I’m always surprised to find that my friends who work (or have worked) for billionaires rarely see much benefit. Maybe they get $40-$50K for helping run the ranch or book the travel or manage the food or parties or staff but they usually work their asses off and are left out of the wine cellar. They often get less in a year than the boss pays for one visit with the Dalai Lama.

I’ve dedicated much of my life to community service. Directing a meaningful nonprofit in the shadow of golden castles is harder than you might think.

A recent article in the Nation titled, “The Perils of Billionaire Philanthropy” outlines how the ultra rich are hiding money in Donor Advised Funds (DAF), rarely letting much go to needy charities unless it serves their financial advantage.

“There is currently no legal incentive to move money out to charities once it has been put into a DAF.”

Donor advised funds sound good, though.

“When our time’s up, it’s up. All the money in the world won’t buy you one more day.” —Ted Turner.

Steve Skinner hopes you enjoy your money. Democracy Now airs weekdays from 8-9 a.m. on KFFR community radio. Reach him at