Wealth and Want
... because democracy alone is not enough to produce widely shared prosperity.
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Hanno Beck

Hanno publishes The Progress Report, at http://www.progress.org, updated daily since 1997.  He expresses himself beautifully and gently, parrying the comments of many readers with thoughtful and well-chosen words which lead us to think more deeply.

Here are some of my favorites of things he has written, beyond his editorial work at the Progress Report:

Bathroom Policy

We were four college sophomores. And we were not going to live in a dorm, no sir, we figured that we were smart, mature fellows and so we arranged to rent a house. Each person would have his own private bedroom and we would share the bathroom. Four guys, one bathroom. That sounds reasonable, right? ...

Now let's talk about you and everyone on Earth. We don't have to share a single bathroom. But we do all share one planet.

Our planet's natural resources are a common heritage for all humanity, just as the bathroom was a common resource for the four of us in college.   ...

Is there a solution? Of course there is. It's a simple solution. To respect our common interest in our planet's resources, those who take or monopolize or pollute more than their fair share of our planet should compensate those of us who they are taking from.
   Read the whole article

What The Polluter Pays Principle Implies

Dinner has ended. Over a cup of tea, Sara is talking with Vernon:

"... and so those new policies are justified because of the Polluter Pays Principle."

Vernon says, "Tell me one more time, what the Polluter Pays Principle is."

Sara replies, "The polluter is responsible for the environmental and economic effects of his or her polluting activities. That's all. For instance, if you pollute a river and someone downstream gets lower-quality water, or must buy more expensive water as a result, you owe compensation to them. It's obvious."

But Vernon says, "It is not obvious to me. I do not agree with the Polluter Pays Principle. Why does it have to be the polluter's problem when he causes damage to the life or property or rights of others? Maybe it should be all the taxpayers' problem, or only the problem of people whose names start with the letter K."

Now what is Sara supposed to do? What can you do, when somebody says they don't agree with something that seems obvious to you?    
Read the whole article

The successful solution to sprawl is not some formula. Rather, succeeding against sprawl means having a variety of tools at your disposal, so that you can shape the best solution for your particular situation.

I baked a birthday cake for my wife a few weeks ago. White cake, with pink icing. To serve it, I used a knife to cut the cake, then a sort of spatula to lift the slice of cake, then a fork to eat the cake. It was just a simple piece of cake, for crying out loud, but we used three tools to serve it. Three tools, just to control a piece of cake!

Do you think that sprawl is less complex than a piece of cake? Do you think that all sprawl is caused by one simple factor, has one set of characteristics, and always has the same solution? Of course not. There are lots of causes of sprawl, and lots of types of sprawl. Sprawl is more complicated than a piece of cake.

So how many anti-sprawl tools do we need? We need as many as possible. Right now I am going to put three tools in your anti-sprawl toolkit. They are three general tools, you can use them in many ways and in many combinations. Read the whole article



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Wealth and Want
... because democracy alone hasn't yet led to a society in which all can prosper