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Growth No Longer Creates Community Prosperity

Physical expansion & population growth are costly

I owe you an election report on my recent city council run in my hometown of Colorado Springs. I wasn’t sure the citizens were ready to embrace a modern, sustainable economic model that recognizes perpetual growth is impossible. But I thought I might get traction from the fact that growth is no longer profitable. My city, like most, and like our entire nation, is in a state of crisis. Our tax revenue is down thanks to the collapse of the housing and consumption bubbles.

As I feared, current leaders believe we just need to rev up the growth engine to solve this problem (their faith in growth everlasting prevents them from seeing that our growth boom of the past two decades created more problems than it solved). It created costs faster than revenues. And it didn’t exactly do wonders for our quality of life. I wanted to offer an alternative to re-inflating the housing bubble, a smarter, more sustainable long-term solution.

We captured much of the campaign for use in my documentary, Hooked on Growth, so I thought I’d share some video highlights with you.

In running I sought to do an intervention – spotlighting our city’s growth addiction and getting us into a recovery program. What is happening in Colorado Springs is a microcosm of what’s occurring on the world stage. If we perform a true accounting of all the costs of physical expansion and population growth, we find these activities do not generate true prosperity. That’s good news, as it means we do not have to sacrifice to get unhooked from growth addiction. We will be better off in every way to get on a sustainable path of economic and population stability. This council campaign served as a proving ground for this “good news” message, which is the message of Hooked on Growth.

The election was April 7, and I surprised many with a very respectable 43% of the vote. The incumbent, with substantial growth industry funding, garnered 2,000 more votes. Does this mean the public will respond to the good news that getting unhooked from growth will help us achieve real happiness and true prosperity? If I’d won by a landslide we could be more certain. In my view, the jury is still out.

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