Thursday, September 27, 2007

Growth Debate Revisited: BIA versus Eben Fodor

'It is not once nor twice but times without number that the same ideas make their appearance in the world' - Aristotle

It is just that we should be grateful, not only to those with whose views we may agree, but also to those who have expressed more superficial views; for these also contributed something, by developing before us the powers of thought - Aristotle

No notice is taken of a little evil, but when it increases it strikes the eye - Aristotle

Liars when they speak the truth are not believed - Aristotle

The least initial deviation from the truth is multiplied later a thousandfold
- Aristotle
OK, enough Aristotle quotes for now.
But, what was wisdom over two thousand years ago remains wisdom today.
That is the point.

Lois Garlick has already lived longer than most of us.
And, her life has reflected much of this wisdom that others never seem to learn.
Now, she has willingly taken on the task of bringing more enlightened leadership to our County by challenging the incumbent County Executive during the upcoming election.

Many don't give Lois much of chance.
So what?
She's got important stuff to say that she really stands for!
And, like Pete Kremen, she can hire administrators and key staff to help her run County affairs from day to day.

What Lois has is the character, values and wisdom to consistently lead Whatcom County in a manner that has been lacking for years!

Most probably won't remember the Guest Editorial reprinted below, but I do.
That is because Lois and I collaborated in writing and publishing this piece.
Read it for yourself and see if its message resonates with you.
Then, go out and support Lois against Pete!

At least hold Pete accountable for his performance in office.
I'm quite sure there are many besides me who think we can do better.
Not only better, but much better!
A Concerned Citizen’s Response to Herald’s “Our View” Editorial [Published 10/11/2002]

Just like the four pages of canned comments that the BIA’s shill, Richard Emerson, had prepared in advance of Eben Fodor's talk, it appears the Herald’s editorial seems to have been written by faceless people without minds open to new information and approaches to growth management.

Or, perhaps the Herald simply figured out, since so much of their advertising is continually being paid for by the same pro-development groups, that these folks prefer to see their biases reflected in their local newspaper editorials.

That reasoning might also help explain why many of the same BIA myths printed in Bill Querhn's recent guest column, were again parroted here.
In any event, this Herald editorial differs little from prior BIA-written opinion pieces, except it is more grammatically correct, and does concede some points that are already rather obvious to everyone.

Did the “Our View” writer(s) actually attend Eben Fodor's speech?

Have they watched the event on EGTV Channel 10?

Are they aware that video cassettes of the presentation are available?

Have they read Fodor's book, BETTER Not Bigger, or any of his published reports which were commissioned by the States of Oregon and Washington?

If the answer to any of these questions is 'yes', has the Herald simply dismissed his arguments and findings?

While it is understandable for the Herald to prefer easy, business as usual approaches to growth policy issues, it is deplorable that it allows itself to be so easily and thoroughly co-opted by growth machine rhetoric.

For example, is the debate really about growth or no growth?
Aren't there other, intermediate steps to be considered in the spectrum between these two extremes?

Do they know that the Washington Research Council's 'economist' they quote is really paid for the BIA?

Where do the specious arguments about anti-minority and immigrant sentiment come from?

Is it possible these are also being generated by pro-growth interests as a means of discrediting efforts to reasonably regulate growth?

Isn't that the real reason that people like Eben Fodor, who dare to expose the growth machine's carefully crafted mythology, are listed as public enemy number 1 by the BIA?

We have seen that kind of thinking before, to the detriment of human history.
"If you don't agree with us and do what we say, you're the enemy!"

The Herald is certainly correct in seeing growth as a form of change, and change is a reality for all of us - every day of our lives.
But aren't certain types of change are more desirable than others, particularly if sustained quality of life is considered important?
In the words of Edward Abbey, " Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell."

These are the larger concepts about which the 'growth debate' is really all about - how to do things better for us all in the long run, by learning from the past.
The situation we face now is very different from what Henry Roeder faced.
There are many more of us now, and we can more easily see that the cumulative effect of our individual impacts on our common environment, the air, water and soil we all share, have been very detrimental indeed.

Our challenge is to determine how to change our habits in the interest of long term sustainability
That is a goal in which we all have a true interest.

The organizers of the Eben Fodor event were all concerned citizens, who raised most of the costs.
That the Herald would so lightly dismiss these citizens’ well-intended efforts to inform themselves and the public of new, albeit provocative ideas, smacks of arrogance and irresponsibility.

Instead, these folks deserve our collective thanks for taking the initiative for getting this growth debate to center stage at a time when meaningful changes are possible.
Opinions are free. Informed opinions require honest hard work to acquire.

A.J. Liebling once said: "Freedom of the press belongs to those who own one."
As the entity which owns the largest printing press in town, the Herald needs to work harder to inform itself about these difficult issues, before expressing written opinions on important issues for public consumption.