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.
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?