We need growth

I read a letter to the editor in the Telegraph-Journal that I wanted to share with you.  I’ll just pull some quotes and leave off the name.  The title of the letter is “Continued growth has drawbacks”:

Once again I find myself reading another newspaper commentary about how important growth is to New Brunswick’s future, “To succeed, N.B. must continue to grow.” Just take a close look at places here in North America that have sustained continued growth and ask yourself, “Do I want to live in Los Angeles, Houston, Miami or even Vancouver?” These places have won the prize and paid the price for their growth and development. Overcrowded streets with traffic jams day and night, housing prices no one can afford, and intolerable crime levels come with such victories. I just came back from Texas. I could not wait to get back home to New Brunswick. I remember what Texas was like 40 years ago and the paradise that Texas once was is being destroyed by the hordes of people who have moved there to get their piece of the ever-growing economic pie. Most of us still live in open natural settings here in New Brunswick.

I had a conversation a couple of weeks ago with a young business leader in the province who told me with considerable frustration that he didn’t want to live in a province where people move here to get away from the hustle and bustle of dynamic economies.  He said that even young people move back here to ‘slow down’ their lifestyle, work less and have a higher quality of life.

Sounds good, right?

Not necessarily.  What people like this retiree from Texas don’t understand is that places like New Brunswick need to have at least enough growth to cover the basic costs of that lifestyle he says is so important.  I don’t believe we need to become Los Angeles or Houston to be successful but we do need enough economic activity to pay the bills.

I want people to move here to enjoy the high qualit of life.  That is a main reason why I have stayed here despite several offers that would have required me to leave.  But I work hard.  I take my career very seriously.  Living here should not be about about turning off your brain and breathing in the country air. 

If people (other than retirees) are moving here to scale back, to settle into a comfortable routine and wait for the pension to kick in – I’m not sure that’s a good model.  I like the idea of young people moving away, gaining interesting skills and then moving back here to help build successful and innovative companies, infuse new ideas into government and institutions, etc.  Bringing back a wider world view makes sense.

But to come back for a kind of pre-retirement slow down – count me out.

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4 Responses to We need growth

  1. George says:

    This gentleman had a small business for years here in Saint John. He’s now retired so I think using his letter was a bit unfair. You could have made your point (which makes sense) without reference to his comments. Just my point of view!

  2. I have no intention of mentioning any names or providing links. The point is to discuss issues here not individuals. By the way the point he makes is valid. We don’t want to turn Sussex into LA. My point is we need a certain level of growth.

  3. Samonymous says:

    I find this attitude, or keeping with the status quo, fascinating. This we’re happy “the way we are” attitude (translation: poor and dependent) is ridiculous and only unique to this region. I’ll tell you another thing that baffles me about this region; the fact that people keep their attitudes close to their chest and are afraid or timid to fully express themselves over important public issues and policies, but find it sufficient to yell and scream ad hominems toward people who do.

    That said, it doesn’t surprise me that the chap above, George, is calling it unfair to use quotes from someone who wrote in a public forum under his own name. Obviously the man wanted his opinions heard or he wouldn’t have gone through the trouble to submit them to the editor. Thus, any criticism towards those comments is fair game (and democratically healthy to boot). It’s time we stopped being scared of our own shadows and started participating and debating in a public forum. The other way only works in dark dictatorships.

  4. mikel says:

    I think a good idea would be to simply aim economic development toward 22 year olds. At that point you are either continuing your education, or setting out on your career. So its fitting to ask what ‘services’ or policies need to be in place. While I agree there should be a focus on ‘jobs’, I disagree that that means finding other companies to show up and hire people.

    IF the policies are in place then companies WILL come to the areas simply because the talent is there. I think David is partly wrong, because people WERE moving to Miramichi for jobs in animation and staying BECAUSE they liked the laid back atmosphere-and what’s wrong with that?

    People in retirement are not exactly known for their innovation and ingenuity, so to plan economic development around them would be a mistake. On the other hand, ‘growth for the sake of growth’ is also horrible. I just found out that our local hospital has the highest mortality rate in the country. I also discovered that the area has the hardest water in the country. I learn this, of course, because my water softener just broke. This city, which prides itself on its ‘innovation’, has now packed in people on virtually every square inch of land. Moreover, it has NO water facilities except well water and a tiny river of specious quality. The long term plan is to build a water pipeline to one of the great lakes. Meanwhile, it has developed over a moraine that is more delicate than the one in Toronto (where development was stopped), and constantly ignores all those experts trained at the university who tell them what bad moves these are.

    It really makes you see the sense in socialism. At some point it makes sense for SOMEBODY to step in and say “look, this is crazy, we want LESS growth here, and MORE growth here, so lets plan the economy like this”. It doesn’t have to be as rigid as some places have been in the past, but the way it is is ludicrous.

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