Expectation or Entitlement

In light of the upcoming referendum for the Castlegar Rec Centre Expansion Project, I thought I’d play an audio excerpt from CBC that articulates many of the conflicting circumstances that add complexity to the decisions that governments make regarding money and funding projects. The excerpt, an intro to a CBC Ideas program aired in May 2010, sums up the problem with most financial decisions being made in public institutions, schools, hospitals, all levels of governments – and explains how while our circumstances have changed, our expectations haven’t caught up, or dropped back. Click on the play button below to listen.

To hear the whole recording, check out CBC Ideas – “Great Expectations”.

Is it possible that our expectations or perceived entitlements are excessive compared to the true financial status of our institutions and nation as a whole? Could this “Community Level Conspicuous Consumption” be our outmoded attempt at pretending that nothing has changed, that the past 5 years didn’t happen, that we’re still living in the early 2000’s, or heaven forbid – the 1990’s?

I’d love to be proved wrong on this, but we are butting up against some pretty serious limits as a society – choices need to be made as to how we spend our money and use our energy. The author Sharon Astyk summed it up nicely a couple of days ago:

The reality is that in order to believe that running deficits in a crisis is a good idea, you have to believe that what will follow is a period of growth that allows you to pay off those debts fairly painlessly. The problem is that every single period of economic growth the US has had in the last century has been accompanied by expanded energy consumption – we simply have no evidence that one can have economic expansion and energy conservation at the same time. The realities of both climate change and resource depletion, however, mean that we can’t afford a period of energy expansionism – and there’s some question considerable about whether we even have the resource base to produce one.

Source: Casaubon’s Book – Not Deficit Reductionism, Misplaced Priorities

Step back from your expectations or sense of entitlement and examine where the priorities of the community lie in ensuring the best chance at a sustainable future. Where do you think the future will take us?

Published by Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada.

3 replies on “Expectation or Entitlement”

  1. Hello Mike,

    Thanks so much for this CBC Ideas link on Expectations & Entitlements.

    The discussion is extremely important and relevant for Residents, Voters — of all ages, AND for Politicians ( and those who aspire to be Politicians).

    A little warning— if readers are interested in listening you probably need to set aside an hour to hear the whole program, but in my view, it is well worth the time and effort.

    Raymond Koehler

    619 – 9th Avenue,
    Castlegar, BC V1N 1M5


    1. It’s a tough discussion to have as a society, but the days of having every wish and dream granted are behind us. Freedom 55 was a bait and switch tactic sold to the masses, but available for but a small percentage of the population in a couple of generations in the entirety of history.

      Focusing our collective wealth on real social needs is imperative, if we are not likely to have masses of wealth to squander in the future, perhaps we should have some restraint now?

  2. Hey Mike! …

    Regarding your TWEET — Authentic branding 101. Is Castlegar council living in a fairytale? “Happily ever after” anyone? http://ow.ly/1rsdza >> 19 hours ago

    Should the Community Leadership wish some data to process around the Sustainability Issues — including Food Security, the Need for Shelter. and Economic Stability in our Area, they might start by reviewing the exponential growth in Service Numbers at the Harvest Community Food Bank since 2008, and track down some current statistics for Home Foreclosures, Repossessions and Bankruptcies in the Community.

    Were those Residents consulted on the “Happily ever after” Branding exercise?

    It was only in the past summer that some workers got to return to jobs at the Saw Mill, if they had been able to survive the many months of ‘shutdown’.

    Who in their right minds … (in a ‘garden’ of free outdoor recreational opportunities for those who choose )… could take that as a signal to raise property taxes on families struggling to keep their homes, and seniors and the disabled on limited fixed incomes.

    Why do we continue to re-elect representatives from ‘Team Fairyland’ … every three years who apparently feel that they have ‘carte blanche’ control over the Sustainability of our Future?

    Raymond Koehler
    619 – 9th Avenue,
    Castlegar, BC V1N 1M5



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