Thursday, June 9, 2011

Growth Addicts

An addict is someone who is obsessively devoted to something.

People can become addicted to all sorts of things, such as alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, sweets, sports, gambling, sex, travel, TV, gardening, gossip, etc. They can even be addicted to community growth.

Most people with common sense realize there is an optimal size to almost anything. A garden won’t flourish if plants are too close together or too far apart. A forest won’t flourish if trees are too close together or too far apart. An animal herd won’t flourish if there are too many animals for their range.

Bigger isn’t always better.

However, Growth Addicts are unaware of the ramifications of overpopulation. These are people who have some sort of inane behavioral quirk whereby they simply can’t accept the size and scope of the community in which they live. They are compelled by some sort of neurological disorder to stimulate community growth.

If you ever ask one of these Growth Addicts at what point the growth should level off, they’ll look at you as if you’re crazy.

To a Growth Addict, there never is enough growth.

To a Growth Addict, growth is a way of life.

Many local politicians are afflicted with this disorder. They promise to lure industry into their area under the preposterous notion that this would have a positive impact on the entire community. Many real estate folks are also afflicted with this disorder. They travel to far away locations and attempt to persuade people to relocate to their area. Some local business owners are also under the delusion that community expansion will benefit them.

I lived a few miles outside a small town in Arizona in 1986-1992. It had a population of about 3,000 and seemed like an ideal place to live, especially after having spent nearly 12 years in Los Angeles.

However, it didn’t take long to sour on the place.

The city council was made up of bankers and real estate brokers. They had this simple-minded notion that bigger was better and that if they didn’t do something drastic the world would pass them by. Their idea of progress was to attract industry so they could grow at a much faster rate than would normally take place.

Their first course of action was to spend huge sums of taxpayer funds building an industrial park near the airport. Naturally, as bankers and land brokers, they all got a piece of the action.

When no one would build a business in their overpriced industrial park, they spent huge sums of taxpayer funds promoting the fiasco, including expensive advertisements in business publications in such places as Taiwan and Hong Kong. To date, the industrial park still remains empty.

During another brainstorming session, the city council determined the town would be more attractive if it had “funky” pink sidewalks, just like the ones in a popular ski resort town in Colorado. Tons of taxpayer dollars went into the project. All the concrete sidewalks in town were ripped up and replaced with pink, inlaid bricks. When the dust finally settled, it looked like cowboy town with pink sidewalks.

Progress, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. One person’s idea of progress is another person’s nightmare.

Promoting business and encouraging population growth should not be a function of local government, which has enough problems simply keeping up with the natural flow of change.

The flaw in this thinking is obvious. As more industry is added to an area, more people will move there to take advantage of the expanding economy. Suddenly, you’re back to the same old problem of needing to add more industry to support the growing population.

Local business won’t benefit from this ploy. As the area grows, new businesses will pop up, creating more competition -- a bigger pie with smaller slices. Eventually, local businesses will become overrun by national chains.

Nothing will be improved -- there will just be more of everything, including more traffic, more crime and a need for more solutions, requiring more tax revenue.

Most people live in a certain area because they like it there. For those who yearn for a larger community, it would be easier to move elsewhere than scheme to make the area grow faster than it would otherwise grow naturally.

Rather than move on, Growth Addicts insist upon spoiling things for everyone else. Bringing more business, more industry and more people into a community doesn’t benefit anyone, including those who have an insatiable urge to hasten progress.

Most areas will grow at a nice steady pace without Growth Addicts forcing their will upon the natural flow of progress.

Perhaps, Growth Addicts dislike their community because they subconsciously dislike themselves. Instead of taking responsibility for their own happiness they manipulate the world around them in a vain attempt to alter a reality they blame for their own perceived misfortunes. If so, Growth Addicts are in dire need of psychological help.

Some of my best friends are growth addicts. Even members of my own family are infected with this insidious malady. They can’t seem to help it and don’t even appear to be aware of their dysfunctional condition.

If you’re not a Growth Addict, read no further.

An intervention is a confrontation, usually initiated by family and friends, directed toward an addict in an attempt to rid the addict of his or her harmful addiction.

Consider this to be an intervention.

I am your friend.

You have a serious mental disorder.

I want to help you get well.


We don’t need your guidance and control.

You’re obsession for growth only makes things worse.

More industry means more people, creating more problems that will be solved by bringing in more industry. Then more industry will attract more people, requiring even more industry, which will again attract more people, and so on, and so on.

This is a vicious cycle without end.

Bigger isn’t better -- it’s just bigger.

You have an unhealthy addiction.

It’s unhealthy for you and everyone around you.

Get over it.

Your problem isn’t the size of the community; your problem is you.

If you have a compulsion to make changes, look inward.

Stop and smell the roses.

Or move to a bigger city.

Quote for the Day -- "Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it." Milton Friedman

Bret Burquest, author of four novels, has recently published THE REALITY OF THE ILLUSION OF REALITY (esoteric knowledge) and 1111 HAPPY TRAILS ROAD (humor) -- available on Amazon. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where work is a four-letter word.

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