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Author Archive

Holy Grail of Economic Growth

In a classic scene from the film City Slickers, Jack Palance holds up one gloved finger as he counsels Billy Crystal that the secret of life is just “one thing” that is all-important. “You stick to that and everything else don’t mean shit.” Eventually Billy Crystal figures out that “one thing,” the key to life.

I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure that “one thing” must have been economic growth. I’ll hazard a guess the phrase “economic growth” is mentioned, on national TV and cable networks alone, over 200 times daily. President Barack Obama probably emits the phrase 20 times a day on his own, and that’s not counting talking in his sleep. Restoring economic growth is right up there with putting a man on the moon, ending terrorism, and putting cheese in a spray can. Who would argue with that? Never one to shy away from controversy, allow me to take a stab at it. . . .

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Bon voyage to a super-volunteer

Today we sadly bid a fond farewell to Ursula Sommer, our incredible volunteer assistant editor for the past two months. Ursula is a recent Colorado College graduate who became excited about my documentary, Hooked on Growth (in production). She wanted to work on this film. In this era of tight finances, we were unable to raise the funds to pay Ursula for even a summer internship. But because she believes in the cause, she donated her time. She even had to acquire a better bike to navigate the hills that dot her five-mile commute every day.

Assistant editor Ursula Sommer sips coffee and logs an interview

Assistant editor Ursula Sommer sips coffee and logs an interview

Ursula has been a joy to have around and a tremendous help in the edit suite, helping us catch up on getting all our interviews logged and onto our hard drives so they can be transcribed and edited. This weekend Ursula is off to New York City, where she will begin work on the for-profit side of the film and television business. She’s been a joy to have around the office. We wish her well and hope this is not goodbye, but just “see you later!” . . .

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Earth 2100 is an ABC News (U.S.) special that will air the evening of June 2. At the show’s little-tended website one finds hope for a remarkably candid (especially for the U.S.) look at the sustainability predicament we find ourselves in. From the program description:

What could our world look like over the next one hundred years if we don’t act now to save our troubled planet? The world’s brightest minds agree that the “perfect storm” of population growth, resource depletion and climate change could converge with catastrophic results.

This is heady stuff, since climate change makes a few headlines, resource depletion fewer, and population growth is almost universally ignored as a multiplier in the equation that represents human impact on our planet. . . .

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Think Globally – Act Locally

This documentary takes a unique slant on sustainability by examining how public policies and superstitions at every level of government affect the sustainability of our behavior. I often ask, “How can we expect to achieve global sustainability if our planet is full of communities acting unsustainably?’

Of course I’ve been working on that very issue in my own community for years, trying to inject some prudent, rational, long-term thinking into what was rarely even a debate about my community’s addiction to growth.

If you’ve been wondering why I haven’t posted in 2 months, it’s because I decided in January to kick it up a notch. I entered a local city council race. I decided to run because my city, like most cities and even the entire U.S., is facing a funding crisis. Instead of rampant consumption, citizens are now being very thrifty, diminishing sales tax revenue. Instead of enjoying the quick hit of sales tax revenue from new construction, the city is now stuck serving subdivisions that have never provided the tax revenue necessary to serve them. . . .

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Bring on the baby boom – Are you kidding me?

This opinion piece in USA Today really gave me pause. Author Laura Vanderkam celebrates the fact that U.S. fertility rate rose 22% from 1976 to 2007. And she suggests increasing it even further is a worthy goal. I’m not kidding. Here is her rationale:

Between bank bailouts and the stimulus package, it’s no secret that our government is spending like a megafamily at the grocery store. But both of these pale next to the looming problems of Social Security and Medicare. With fewer workers supporting an aging population, Social Security, for instance, will exhaust its trust fund about 2041.

A higher birthrate could ease that. The youngest Boomers won’t retire until 2030 or so,when children born today enter the workforce. A baby bulge over the next few years could push off the day of reckoning, and the economic growth a rising population causes will shrink our debt to a more manageable percentage of GDP. . . .

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