THE FOLLOWING IS WRITTEN BY A GUARDIAN READER WHO HAS DISPLAYED A FIRM GRASP OF GROWTH ISSUES AND WE THOUGHT HIS RESPONSE TO “CANNING THE PLANNING SHOULD GET BETTER DISPLAY.
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Less government? I’m not sure it’s possible to get less government unless we revert to Kurdish-style warlord-ruled fiefdoms. Hegemony anyone?
More to the point, when we moved out to Boise in the 1980’s I was surprised by the number of basic services (water, gas, electricity, etc.) that were privately-owned.
Then, I shrugged my shoulders and deemed it a quaint western states phenomena – a throwback to enterprising service providers from old mining towns. Now, I’m not so sure it’s a pattern we need to continue forward.
It is almost impossible to provide solid, achievable, regional goals when they are constantly undermined by competing private interests. These interests aren’t those of private property owners, since they provide the core financial engine to our economy, but it’s the myriad of (near unregulated – don’t get me started on the band-aid PUC) private service providers that fall all over themselves to provide electricity, water, gas, etc. with no regard to the long-term health of the various communities. And, who in turn pass the costs of the new (unexpected) expenses of new service extensions on to their entire cadre of rate-payers.
This creates an environment-of-expectation – where if growth can be “purchased” today, then we shouldn’t have to worry about if it can be afforded tomorrow. Yet no one would ever dream of budgeting their household expenses in this manner.
In the Midwest many public utilities are still privately-held – but they are all non-profit co-ops. All of these utility companies’ shares are held by the people who actually recieve the services. And, it is these recipient-owners who set the rates and determine where service extension should (or shouldn’t) be run. Can you imagine the hew and cry from the overseas Board of Directors and Shareholders of the Suez Corporation if they had the capacity to provide water to a proposed local development, yet the company’s local administrators refused to provide hook-ups because the development (regardless of how much money the developer was willing to upfront) wasn’t consistent with the community’s Comprehensive Plan?
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