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Letter: More growth isn't always beneficial to state's long-term health
01282018 AMAZON ATLANTA
A tract of land known to locals as The Gulch is shown Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018, in Atlanta. As Atlanta vies to entice Amazon to build its second headquarters on the site, local leaders are studying a proposal to build a $5 billion project with more than three times the office space of New York’s Empire State Building. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

What if governments used tax money to solve problems instead of making existing problems worse? What if governments strived for a sustainable economy rather than an ever-growing one that recognizes no limits? Such questions should be considered before the state squanders more than a billion dollars to lure Amazon’s HQ2.

Consider some current problems that will only get worse if Amazon moves to Georgia.

During drought periods, the state’s water supply is already stressed by the demands of the existing population. Depletion of Chattahoochee River flows has caused Florida and Alabama concern about water rights. Will the U.S. Supreme Court consider Georgia’s insatiable lust for growth in its ruling on the water wars dispute with Florida?

Air quality in the greater Atlanta area has been marginal for decades, primarily due to so many vehicles on the roads. Another 50,000 jobs will likely mean many thousands of additional vehicles to further degrade the air we breathe. Wouldn’t it be more sensible to spend some of that billion-plus dollars to improve public transportation rather than wasting it on trying to bribe Amazon?

Going hand in hand with poor air quality is the transportation gridlock in Atlanta, Gainesville and many other cities. This will only get worse when an additional 50,000 jobs and at least 100,000 more people are added to the area if Amazon’s HQ2 moves in. Most of those jobs will not be filled by current Georgia residents, but instead will be taken by people moving in from other states.

Georgia needs to set aside more undeveloped land that is preserved as green space to protect air and water quality. Such areas also benefit human health by providing places for increased physical activity to reduce stress and prevent obesity, and give city dwellers an opportunity to reconnect with nature.

Growth drives up the price of land which in turn reduces the availability of affordable housing for those who struggle to make a living in low-paying jobs. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer as population and income disparity increase.

A recent Federal Reserve Bulletin reported that both wealth and income inequality in the United States are getting worse. Growth adds to the wealth of those who are already well off but does not benefit the poor because it robs them of what little wealth they have. Our nation’s middle class is shrinking because of growth, and there is nothing economical about that.

Efforts to deliberately increase the population in order to increase the gross domestic product are shortsighted. What happens when the finite natural resources that have supported growth are depleted?

Continuous economic growth is not sustainable because it depends on depletion of finite natural resources, ever increasing debt and continuous population growth; none of which is sustainable indefinitely. Yet growth is worshiped like a religion and politicians go to great lengths to lure industry (and people) from other states or countries without any attempt to determine optimum population density.

More is not always better.

Russell England

Gainesville

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