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Hour Town Archive: Cover Stories

Enriching Our Lives

July 1998

by Paul Glover

Ithaca is already a rich city. There's enough money in Ithaca today to enable EVERYONE to work creatively a few hours daily and then to relax with family and friends, and enjoy top quality healthy food prepared by some of the finest cooks on earth, to enjoy clean low-cost warm housing, clean and safe transport, high quality hand-crafted clothes and household goods, to enjoy creating and playing together, growing up and growing old in a supportive community where everyone is valuable, all in the midst of one of the most beautiful landscapes on earth.

And to do this while replenishing rather than depleting the health of the planet. And while enriching rather than exploiting workers.

Our abundant wealth has not yet been translated into general well-being because City Hall has yet to understand genuine development:

Economic Development

  • jobs with liveable wages
  • jobs with good working conditions
  • jobs that allow families time together
  • jobs that are creative and interesting
  • varied job base, with many smaller shops
  • diverse hiring, with wide skill needs
  • average person valued for unique talents
  • increased access via bus, rail, bicycle, foot
  • stable taxes via efficient infrastructure
  • money recycles locally via small business
  • increased local control via maximum local production of food, fuel and household goods (import replacement)
  • social safety net for people in transition
  • foster social pride and fair distribution of wealth via progressive taxation
  • leadership by community
  • many natural areas protected for public enjoyment and health
  • replenishment of natural resources

Economic Decay

  • jobs with pay so low as to require subsidy
  • jobs with hazardous/oppressive conditions
  • jobs that keep families too busy to be together
  • jobs that are dull and repetitive
  • major employers in few big boxes
  • whites only, high tech emphasis
  • average person disposable
  • increased automobile dependence
  • increased taxes for auto/truck infrastructure
  • money leaves rapidly via chain stores
  • decreased local control via import of necessities, with associated expanded dependence on transport fuels & pollution
  • welfare for the rich, blame the poor
  • foster social alienation and forced redistribution of wealth via crime & revolution
  • leadership by elites
  • natural areas paved; soil, plants and animals destroyed for personal gain
  • consumption of natural resources

How Communities Do It:

  • Community development credit unions
  • Microloan Funds for creative projects
  • Local money (HOURS) & zero-interest loans
  • Adaptive Re-use for industrial expansion
  • Local business incubators
  • Socially-responsible investing
  • Import replacement programs
  • Buy-Local campaigns
  • Farmer's Markets, food and fuel co-ops
  • Superinsulation of housing/business spaces
  • Worker Ownership Networks
  • Military-to-Domestic conversions
  • Local pension funds w/local investment
  • Local health funds & nonprofit clinics
  • Local tax credits for small farms, solar & wind
  • Materials Re-use Centers

How Elites Do It:

  • Regional/national/global banks
  • Large loans for conventional purposes
  • Dollar dependency, maximum return loans
  • Industrial expansion on new land
  • Industrial parks w/few jobs per acre
  • Investing w/out concern for society/ecology
  • Dependence on import of necessities
  • Mail Order campaigns, catalog shopping
  • Supermarkets and investor-driven utilities
  • Waste of fossil fuels enriches utility investors
  • Major Employer's Group
  • Seeking military contracts
  • National pension funds for globalization
  • "Health Maintenance" Organizations
  • Tax Breaks for insiders
  • Landfills

Who Wins:

  • everybody benefits, including future generations, who receive our legacy of beauty and abundance.

Who Wins:

  • developers, contractors, bureaucrats, speculators get rich quick while future generations face shortages of fuel and food.

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