A lesson I learned in Private Equity was:
Concession for concession
If I’m going to give something away then I should get something in return.
Because the public sector has different incentives than the private sector, it is possible for corporations to gain valuable concessions in exchange for not much in return.
Name an industry with corporate immunity for losses associated with their product.
The first one that usually comes to mind is guns. Here’s a link to a summary of the law – The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms.
In Colorado we have the Ski Safety Act (link to the law) that grants immunity to ski operators from the inherent risks of skiing. This act provides a huge incentive for resort operators to expand their Colorado operations. Colorado skiing is better because of this act, and I like to ski.
If you die in an avalanche in Colorado then the CAIC will do their very best to find out as much as possible about your death. They will publish their findings so the community can learn from the price you paid.
It’s a valuable public service, done on a limited budget ($1.6 million of public money in 2020). The accident reports give us a chance to make individual learning, collective. The reports also enable the public to make informed decisions about how they participate in backcountry skiing.
We have the accident investigation infrastructure, outside the resorts, and it doesn’t cost much. The $1.6 million of public money buys much more than accident investigation.
Investments in Public Safety
When I arrived in Boulder, the junction of North Broadway and Highway 36 was governed by a single stop sign. A cyclist turning left (on to to Hwy 36) needed to cross high speed traffic.
This intersection was the scene of fatal accidents and, eventually, the stop sign was replaced by a traffic light.
Before the light was put in, only the locals knew it was a dangerous location. The highway traffic comes around a corner and would catch unsuspecting cyclists while they tried to clip back into their pedals. I worked at a training camp where an out-of-state participant was killed at this intersection, when he turned back early from a group ride.
Colorado counties have the information they need to make informed investments in their road safety infrastructure.
With our in-bounds terrain, the counties and the public are largely skiing blind.
As a community, we’ve made a choice to accept the inherent risks of skiing.
I support this choice.
By taking personal responsibility for the risks of skiing, we save the ski operators tens of millions of dollars. A large multiple of the value of these savings is enjoyed by the owners of the resorts. The cost of better information would be a tiny fraction of gain in capital value
Improved disclosure, while preserving corporate immunity, would provide a positive incentive for the ski operators to improve their “dangerous intersections.”
Colorado can handle the truth
Here’s a link to the ski safety code – It is common sense stuff. The code fails to nudge skiers away from death and permanent injury.
From reading about fatal accidents, I learned some things I’ve passed to my kids:
- Trees kill
- Look where you want to go
- Hit things with your legs
- We don’t know why the rope is there
- Bar down
With better information, we can improve Colorado for those who follow us.
Let’s iterate towards better.