Why plan for an uncertain future? Our world is changing in ways that we can hardly comprehend. The planning we have been engaged in over the last 100 years, is geared to a world with abundant energy, a stable climate, and a dwindling natural resource endowment that is reliant on cheap energy for extraction. That world is quickly becoming a thing of the past.
Oil price spikes due to supply/demand and geopolitical concerns, water shortages (Google Lake Mead, Central Valley, CA or the Ogallala Aquifer for details), and soil depletion are just a few of the problems we face. As we move forward, the notion that we can continue with business as usual (BAU) is not going to sustain us.
Thinking creatively and making difficult decisions will test our abilities, push our cultural boundaries and hopefully shape a world where these uncomfortable realities can be dealt with in an equitable and meaningful manner. I write about things I see, think, and work on as I transition from being a planning student into the world of planning. I am neither a technological optimist, thinking we can invent our way out of all our problems, nor a doomer, believing in returning to a world much like pre-industrial times. I believe that our creativity combined with the lessons from the past will be instrumental tools for laying the foundation for the path forward. Some of my ideas may seem radical, others are just based on common sense and keen observations.
I think there are a couple major points to make and should be food for thought when listening:
The savings from many austerity measures, really don’t add up to much in the grand scheme.
Some cities do need to figure things out, as is the case of Trenton, NJ, however many places run a tight ship and spend the public’s money well.
I am pro-union, but labor costs are out of control. Unions also need to take a serious look at seniority/tenure and figure out ways to offload workers who give them a bad name.
As long as a city maintained good transparency and honest discussion with the citizens about how budgets are made and financed, tax increases are ok. Again, spend the money wisely, trim unneeded waste and engage the public.
Give it a listen. Really made me consider what kind of country I want to live in.