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Posts Tagged ‘urban growth’

economic development,population growth,urban growth

Feeding Frenzy Over Amazon HQ2 Ill-Advised

New York, Boston, Atlanta and Denver are among the 283 cities that just submitted proposals to host the new second headquarters for Amazon HQ2. Amazon is promising 50,000 jobs with an average salary over $100,000, and a 5 billion dollar investment. But of course incentives and grants are expected to play a role in the company’s location decision.

It’s not often we see the darker, more realistic side of the story reported. Too often local business reporters just lap up the spin they’re given by the local growth industry and the companies extorting local governments for incentives. So it is with rare pleasure I honor on the Wall of Fame financial expert John Fullerton and the Capital Institute for this splash of cold water

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economic development,overpopulation,population growth,sustainability,urban growth

Cities Prosper Better Without Growth

It’s not often I get to applaud good media coverage of urban growth. The myth of prosperity from growth at the community level is still very firmly embedded in the hearts and minds of politicians, most of the general public and – yes, even journalists. Governing magazine and J.B. Wogan make the Wall of Fame today

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economic growth,growth boosters,overpopulation,population growth,sustainability,urban growth

Sydney traffic jam

Benefits of Australia Growth is Booster Spin

Growth boosters and profiteers have little trouble finding outlets for their pro-growth propaganda. Newspapers and other media companies profit from population growth because ad rates increase with the number of eyeballs. So, KPMG consultant Bernard Salt didn’t have to twist any arms to get this commentary into print in The Australian

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climate change,economic growth,economy,gdp,gdp growth,limits to growth,overpopulation,overshoot,population growth,prosperity,sustainability,sustainable popluation,urban growth

Flintstone fastest growing cities trophy

Paleozoic Approach to Civic Success

I have a real problem with population growth maintaining its undeserved place on the mantle of trophies for city success. Cities don’t grow their population in an alternative universe. They grow in the same overpopulated world of 7.4 billion currently killing our planet.

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economic development,limits to growth,news media,newspapers,overpopulation,population growth,sustainability,urban growth

Pot of gold at end of growth rainbow

Newspaper Urges Community to Commit Suicide

If you publish a city’s daily newspaper, a prerequisite for the job is you must want the city’s population to grow, and therefore you must be in complete denial of overpopulation, ecological footprint, limits to growth, and overshoot. The reason is pretty obvious – an ever-increasing pool of potential subscribers, with the accompanying likelihood of higher ad revenue and a more valuable business to sell at some point.

The Wichita Eagle’s Rhonda Holman, writing on behalf of the Kansas newspaper’s editorial board, earns Wall of Shame status this week with:

Wichita is Growing, But Not Enough

Holman grabbed my attention (something you DON’T want to do) with her very first sentence:

“Cities that don’t grow risk dying, so it was reassuring to see census data showing Wichita continues to gain population.”

Many disciples of the church of growth everlasting would have stated this myth in even more certain terms, positive that a lack of growth means death. Still, Holman gives this myth oxygen. And she’s not even content to have slow growth (0.3 percent the most recent annual rate estimated by the U.S. census).

“But the rate of growth is lagging that of other cities in Kansas, especially in Johnson County. Wichita is going to need even more people, and the quality of life as well as the jobs to keep them coming and staying.”

The editorial celebrates Wichita’s eclipse of Cleveland and New Orleans in population size, and that brings up another pet peeve for me: cities using population growth as a metric for success, and actually competing with other cities to be the biggest or the fastest growing.

“The new estimates make Wichita’s 2 percent population growth since 2010 look puny compared with other Kansas communities: Lenexa, 8.9 percent; Manhattan, 7.7 percent; Overland Park, 7.6 percent; Lawrence, 7.2 percent; Olathe, 6.7 percent; Shawnee, 4.6 percent; and even Kansas City, Kan., 3.8 percent.”

This gets my goat because population growth is not even remotely a good proxy for true success or progress. It is, by definition, unsustainable. Also, the average citizen rarely enjoys any benefits, but always foots the bill for the costs of growth (see the recent Growth and Taxes: Costs for Governments and Property Owners Add Up as Bozeman Expands in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle).

It’s also a textbook example of the tragedy of the commons. We know the world has an unsustainable population, using resources faster than the Earth can replenish them (Living Planet Report). Imagine all the cities of the world having the kind of success their daily newspapers implore them to pursue. The outcome would be disastrous.

Newspapers across the U.S. get away with this self-serving growth mongering, under the guise of “economic development.” Attracting companies to locate in your city “creates jobs.” Debunking that myth will have to be a subject for another day. Interestingly, one of the commenters online under this editorial noted that the Wichita Eagle moved its printing business to another community, thus killing jobs in Wichita.

The simple fact is that a healthy city in the 21st century is one that has a stable or slowly declining population (that IS our future, we may as well get on with it). Instead of trying to prop up an archaic, growth-based and suicidal economic development strategy, every city should be figuring out how to have a healthy economy that meets the needs of its current citizens and their children. Healthy and growing are NOT synonyms.

I mentioned we should imagine a world in which all cities are getting the population growth they seek. Actually, we don’t need to imagine. While not all cities are growing their population, enough are, that this century we are witnessing the slow collapse of human civilization. It’s just slow enough that journalists like Rhonda Holman don’t recognize it.

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Wall Of Shame

Reporting & commentary that assume eternal growth is feasible, good, and necessary for prosperity.

Wall Of Fame

Reporting & commentary that recognize growth has limits, costs, and consequences.

User Nominated

Examples of classic pro-growth bias or exceptional acknowledgement of limits to growth, submitted by our readers!.

Top Voted

Every Friday we honor the week’s top-voted story, from the Wall of Shame, Wall of Fame, or User Nominations.

Citizen-Powered Media – 2016