Mapping The Deal: Talking Locally
Introductory Note from Catherine:
More and more people in the Solari Action Network find themselves taking an interest in what is happening at their local planning board, where the economic pressures of growing population meet the very real concerns about environmental deterioration. True sustainability will be sorted out in the pressure cooker of these debates -- it is a bit like the lotus blossom rising from the mud. Friend and business partner, Harry Blazer, wrote up his recent comment before the planning board in Montana and has kindly given me permission to post it as it speaks to issues we are dealing with in many places worldwide. To learn more about Harry, see http://www.walkinginbeauty.org/harrybio.html
8-10-06, Red Lion Inn, Kalispell, Montana
From: Harry Blazer
I believe that there are few problems that cannot be solved by a well-intentioned and respectful conversation.
1) I appreciate the efforts of the planning staff. I believe that their efforts are “well intentioned” and have provided a basis for a productive conversation.
2) Comments on Property Rights vs. Community Rights
I would like to express my disappointment with the tone of the debate on this issue, especially from the so-called “property rights” advocates who have resorted to name calling that, for example, equates being a “greenie”, whatever that is, with being a degenerate or a communist or perhaps Satan himself. In that same vein, we need to support our leaders and I don’t like our commissioners being unjustly denigrated through these groups’ propaganda. By the same token I feel that the so called “property rights advocates” have raised legitimate concerns. To me, property rights and community rights are hardly mutually exclusive but are in fact “folded within” each other and should be mutually supportive.
I would like to propose a town hall meeting where the “property rights advocates” provide their solutions for the hundreds of “cross-cutting” issues that this community must deal with. For example:
- The race track on 93 that is still going at 12:30 AM on a Sunday morning
- Gun Clubs throughout the valley that kill clay pigeons at 9 AM on a Sunday morning
- Land owners who feel no compunction about turning their property into junk yards strewn with disabled and rotting vehicles
- Chemical drift from agricultural spraying
Again, there are hundreds of examples.
Our eco-system doesn’t understand nor adhere to property boundaries, although it ultimately establishes the rules regarding ultimate property rights. Groundwater flows, air circulates, birds fly, deer walk with no regard to these human artifices. Few own their property for decades. We all die but the land continues. We are all stewards for future generations.
By the same token, at this same town hall meeting I would then like to see the “community rights” advocates tell us about their plans to address the legitimate concerns involving the invasion of government in our lives and the undermining of our rights, including some of the most important – those involving our property. I would also like them to give us some insights into how they feel they can prevent the unintended consequences of their good intentions, for example where the development of a mall, for which substantial input was welcomed by the developer, was intentionally delayed for years in court, while strip shopping centers were allowed to proliferate nearby with hardly a peep.
3) A primary responsibility of a growth policy must address the limits to growth, physical, cultural, aesthetic, ecological. Carrying capacity is a key concept. The planning staff has maintained that they didn’t have the resources to pursue this track. But unless we define how big we want to get and can get, without destroying that which we hold dear, we have failed to fulfill one of the most important mandates of a growth visioning statement.
Growth is not inevitable. In our 4-dimensional world, what is inevitable is death.
Intelligent planning recognizes the constraints of the natural systems of which we are a part and needs to be in sync with the natural systems that define what true sustainable evolution is and in turn the limits to growth.
4) Peak Oil (and more broadly peak fossil fuels). If the rumors about depopulation and zero point energy are false, then we are screwed. Unless the suppressed technologies are shared and quantitative growth is curtailed, we are facing, for the immediate and foreseeable future, the end to plentiful, cheap energy. There is not even a word in the planning document about what will prove to be one of the most serious challenges to industrial societies and the greatest challenge to growth beside the consequence of burning those fossil fuels themselves.
In the world of Peak Oil, “going local” and especially local food production take on increasing significance. I disagree with those who claim that agriculture is dead in the valley and has no future. There is in fact a small but vibrant organic farming community that needs to be expanded and is providing train tracks for the future. We have seen widespread evidence that long-distance, fossil fuel-dependent commodity agriculture is failing us and that a transition needs to be made to local-based, organic and sustainable agriculture so we will have food to eat. Thus, it will become crucial to find ways to preserve our uniquely rich and valuable farmlands, which very well may mean, “banking them” as a community.
5) Finally, it is hard enough for truly free markets to provide alignment between price and cost, between financial and natural wealth. The distorted and corrupt markets that exist today, which are “marketed” as free but are the antithesis, are certainly incapable of providing such alignment. So we need to look beyond price and traditional economic indicators in order to know how we are doing. Transparency, sound money and the rule of law are prerequisites for free-markets and intelligent growth. Every day, we move further away from these requirements.
The fundamentals of wealth are quality air, water, topsoil and diversity, mediated by human culture. When the quality of those deteriorate as they are in the valley and on average everywhere on this earth, when the Dow Jones and other financial indexes are out of sync with our ‘well-being” indexes, then ultimately the limits to quantitative growth are being defined for us. The time has come to have a serious conversation about what sustainable and qualitative vs. quantitative growth looks like. What better time than now.
Mapping The Real Deal is a column on Scoop supervised by Catherine Austin Fitts. Ms Fitts is the President of Solari, Inc. http://www.solari.com/. Ms. Fitts is the former Assistant Secretary of Housing-Federal Housing Commissioner during the first Bush Administration, a former managing director and member of the board of directors of Dillon Read & Co. Inc. and President of The Hamilton Securities Group, Inc.