As I have mentioned in earlier posts, I live in paradise. For me, paradise not only includes natural wonders but intellectual wonders as well. Our University attracts world class minds, creatives and eccentrics who all find peace and acceptance here on this mountain. Of course, we all sometimes disagree about politics because many of those minds believe in utopias and group think. I am a realist when it comes to these things, I also don't think government involvement is the answer so we butt heads on process all the time. But they also make me think.
Last night I attended a meeting for a group organized to deal with growth on our plateau. Born in the boom times only a year or so back in response to a proposed massive development that would double the size of my little town of 1100, this organization provided a wealth of information to the people who attended the meetings. Greed was everywhere back then, developers were popping up right and left with no regard to infrastructure or process. Our zoning laws were pliable and the public officials were malleable, especially if the right carrot was dangled.
Thankfully, God took care of the issue when we experienced a long drought and Monteagle ran out of water. At the same time, infrastructure mismanagement reared its head and everyone became aware of the sleeping giant called wastewater treatment...or the lack of it. TDEC stepped in with broad and sweeping motions. This was one time I was happy to see them.
One of the biggest problems in the psyche of my locals is the "don't tell me what to do, I am going do whatever the hell I want to" attitude. Let me tell you, I understand and appreciate the sentiment, but unfortunately that attitude has led to some very bad decisions by our public officials and land owners which in turn affects all of us because we pay the price with higher utility rates and pretty major quality of life issues.
Back to the meeting in question. The speaker was Robin Gottfried, a brilliant economics professor at Sewanee. The information he presented wasn't new, I had a crash course in it last year, but his solutions were new to me. Robin put a new spin on government's role in guiding smart growth. The carrot not the hammer theory. Of course, our local government entities have to buy into the smart growth, land use, cluster development premise that have been meticulously and logicaly researched by our University neighbors...but if we can make that happen, the tools that Robin mentioned are wonderfully simple. They incentivize GOOD behavior. Wow, what a concept! Everyone gets what they want thru personal choices. Wow, want a concept!
Hmmmm, sounds to me like I need to get some progressive, fiscally conservative souls elected to local office.
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