In Durango, Internet anger over ‘moneyless’ high school speaker

February 12, 2015
Photo: Dan Suelo
Dan Suelo, seen here in a screenshot from the 2006 mini-documentary "Moneyless in Moab."

He told a high school class in Durango that he dumpster dives, hitchhikes, house sits to make a living. "[He] accepts only what is given freely and takes no more than what he needs at the time," reporter Dale Rodebaugh wrote. 

“I don’t have a typical day,” he said. “There is no pattern.”

People get angry when questioned about their unwavering allegiance to money, which he called a creed or a religion, Suelo said. But a money-based economy eventually could collapse, he said.

Suelo, 53, is the focus of The Man Who Quit Money, a 272-page book by Mark Sundeen, who met Suelo years ago when they were cooks in a Moab diner. Suelo came to Animas High School at the invitation of Matt Dooley, who teaches freshman humanities.

Many commenters on the Heralds Facebook page didn't appreciate the high school inviting Suelo to speak:

Resourcefulness aside - this is a dangerous precedence to be teaching our youth. Having an economy and thriving capitalism is vital to the health of our world. It's a natural order. To assume otherwise is foolhardy. What happens if this man gets sick and must go to the hospital - he is not turned away, but it is the tax dollars we make from the integrated economic based jobs and the money we make from those jobs that will pay for his service. He's not paying into the system and so therefore is a free rider.

Not good. Animas High School needs to follow this up with a local business leader to even out the debate.

Animas, a charter school, says a key component of it education is connecting students "to the world beyond our classroom walls" -- even if they are cave walls, apparently. Another commenter picks up on that thought:

 If we wanted [students] to all think, act, and behave the exact same way, all the time, we could give them all copies of Atlas Shrugged and call it a day. Luckily, we expect more from them. How does that expectation manifest itself? By providing them a diverse set of speakers and resources to allow them to formulate their own beliefs and thoughts. Mr. Suelo's ideals may not jive with your own, but his opinions and life experiences are still valuable, especially to impressionable high school students. 

Read more at the Herald's website.

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