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Author Archive

Economic System Broke(n)

While the pain we all feel in the current economic meltdown is very real, the system we’re attempting to revive was broken long before the latest bubble and recession. Our economy has come to depend on perpetual growth. Whether that growth is real (as in increasing throughput and the inherent liquidation of finite resources) or just on paper (speculators speculating about what other speculators will do), it cannot be sustained.

The problems with our current system extend far beyond its sheer unsustainability. It long ago stopped providing us the prosperity or happiness we seek. Our communities have been crumbling under the costs and impacts of growth, and rising GDP is no longer an indicator of increasing quality of life. . . .

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Progress on the film


Phoenix, San Francisco, Dallas and Kansas City were in my viewfinder over the past six months as we passed a milestone: over 75% of Hooked on Growth has been shot. From volunteers crewing our shoots to authorities I’m interviewing about population, urban growth or the psychology of climate change denial, everyone I meet is cheering us on. I wish I had room here to share these stories. You’ll just have to see the film!

This film’s message is needed now, more than ever. I need your help to make that happen. I’ve got to shoot in Los Angeles next month, and I still must hit the East Coast for some important interviews. I’m very frugal on these trips, but they still rapidly deplete our resources. Please make a tax-deductible contribution to help fund these production trips and the editing ahead. . . .

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Birth Rate Hogwash

Gazette reporter Perry Swanson invested considerable time into trying to understand why I discount growth boosters’ preoccupation with using “net natural increase” and “net migration” figures to give the impression fertility is the biggest contributor to our burgeoning local population. So it surprised and disappointed me to see a gross figure, birth rate, compared with net migration in both a caption and his story (Look how we’ve grown, 3/16/06). That’s the kind of manipulation of data I’ve come to expect from the growth industry.

One might wonder if there’s something in our water making us much more fertile than the rest of the country. The fertility rate in the U.S. today is just barely above replacement level, so it defies logic that birth rate would be the biggest contributor to our rapidly growing El Paso County population. Part of the explanation is we have many young military families of child-bearing age. Our state demographer has confirmed most of those babies leave the county within a year or two of their birth. . . .

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Growth: Just Say No

Your Turn

Published August 8, 2002 in The Colorado Springs Independent

It’s time we talk frankly about development, baseball stadiums, convention centers, traffic and water. Someone has to be the first to stand up and say the emperor has no clothes!

Jeff Smith wants to build a baseball stadium downtown. Rocky Scott works to attract new businesses to town. Terry Sullivan tells us we need Confluence Park and a convention center in the south end. These efforts have one thing in common: Developers stand to make money if these projects are successful.

Does Smith want to move the Sky Sox in order to revitalize downtown? Or because he’ll make millions from development around the stadium? We already have a charming, vibrant and vital downtown. Jeff’s plans will ensure we have gridlock on Interstate 25 even if it’s widened even further. . . .

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Eyes Wide Open

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
– Mahatma Gahdhi

The growth industry circled the wagons on the op/ed pages of The Gazette January 4, 2004, in an effort to quell the rising voices questioning claims our community benefits financially from growth. While we rejoice the dialog is happening and rational voices have the business-as-usual crowd on the ropes, it’s disappointing when pro-growthers or civic leaders still don’t get it or continue to ignore the truth. It’s apparent from recent Gazette editorials and letters from the Housing and Building Association, that we still have not articulated the slow-growth premise in a way that can be universally understood. So here’s another shot: . . .

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