Canadian Economy: When Is Enough, Enough?

June 16, 2008 at 5:05 pm 8 comments

What is the best route for the future of our society; the intensification of urban centres by increasing  population density, or further development on land currently zoned for other uses, such as agricultural land?

A recent article in the Toronto Star discussed this situation as it is happening in Caledon Township near Bolton, Ontario. Caledon is a community north-west of Toronto with a population of around 60, 000 people. The debate is over whether or not a large chunk of land, 740 hectares, should be used for development or if it should remain as agricultural land.

On one side of the debate is the real estate speculator, Benny Marotta, who has purchased the land and wants to develop it into a community that will add, according to Marotta, 21,000 people and 11,000 jobs to the area. Marotta is supported by the local Chamber of Commerce and local businesses. On the other side are the town’s Mayor, Marolyn Morrison, as well as other citizens of the community who oppose the development. They support intensification of existing infrastructure without the further rezoning of non-urban land.

In the article the reporter writes the following:

The Bolton freeze outraged business owners like Greg Pannia, chair of the recently formed Coalition of Concerned Residents & Businesses of Bolton. His group has joined the chamber of commerce to launch a concerted campaign that has flooded council chambers with the message that stifling Bolton’s expansion will mean fewer new residents and businesses and lead to the town’s slow death.

First, let me state that I have only a basic understanding of economics. I would really like to know some things about the economy, especially with regards to human nature and purpose.

Such as, mentioned in the quote above, how does a status quo lead to a slow death? I’ve heard this argument before, that there needs to be continued influx of population in order for the economy to grow. I understand this: increased population means increased consumer-base, which means a potentially stronger economy. But, just because a population doesn’t grow, does this necessarily mean that the economy will face a ‘slow death’? Can’t economies remain healthy with a stable population?

I also have questions about what economic progress means. Where are we progressing to, exactly? Bigger and more profitable markets? For what purpose? Is there a maximum amount of progress we are shooting for, or does it just keep going indefinitely? When we reach a certain point of economic success do we win a prize, another moon for the Earth, perhaps? What is the goal?

Population growth is finite. The world will only be able to accommodate a certain maximum population: I don’t think anyone can argue this point. We can accentuate the maximum sustainable population with technology but there will always be a maximum possible population that the planet can support. Does this mean that there is a finite amount of growth that we can experience with regards to the economy. When we get there do we celebrate or commiserate?

Basically, what is the purpose of the economy? Economics seems to me to be like the Ouroborus, the snake that is eating its own tail. Economics exists to generate new and improved levels of economy.

Why are we so afraid of economic status quo? I understand that economics, as it is, drives research and discoveries, but can’t these things be accomplished without having to rely on corporations and economic concerns? Believing that economics is the only impetus behind intellectual advancement is naive.

If anyone can help me understand these issues, I’d appreciate it very much. The way society is structured today seems…well…useless and purposeless. I’m not talking about a god or religious purpose as a substitute either, at least not in the way that most organized religions approach things. Organized religions are so entwined with the economy that they have lost site of their true purpose. But there has to be a reason beyond economic manipulation that we exist. The world has to have more importance than to be a tool for corporate exploitation. What is it?

When will developers have enough land? Don’t you think that the traditional development philosophy of expansion and sprawl is a little archaic in today’s world, with today’s engineering technology?


Entry filed under: culture, discussion, opinion, Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Canadian Nationalism: United North America, Part 2 I Love The World

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. I Love The World « Canadian Fermentation  |  June 16, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    […] I think this sums up what I was trying to say in Canadian Economy: When Is Enough, Enough. […]

  • 2. Sun Warrior  |  June 17, 2008 at 10:49 am

    That is the horrible thing about capitalism. If it isn’t growing, it shrinks. There is no stasis. It is a ‘life’ of its own.

    Maybe someone should invent ‘Zen’ capitalism…

    If we do what’s right for the environment, stop consuming, we lose jobs and don’t have money to buy food.

    Business is a life of its own, it must grow, our survival depends upon it, but it’s going to kill us.

    Catch 22 if I’ve ever seen one.

    Your neighbor starves if you don’t consume… get to work!

  • 3. C. Fraser  |  June 17, 2008 at 11:08 am

    There has to be a different means to stability. There has to be a different philosophy upon which we can base our basic existence.

  • 4. Sun Warrior  |  June 17, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    It’s about to emerge. A combination between Native understanding, combined with our knowledge. But we have to cycle through the errors of the profit, greed and fear system we’re in.

    Global warming is going to be glad to help.

    Nature’s coming back to the city…

  • 5. C. Fraser  |  June 18, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    I think you’re right, SW. It’s just a painful process.

  • 6. alistair  |  June 27, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    the need for unreasonable profit due to inflationary costs. the government takes vast gobs of cash from the working classes and pisses it away, as any bored adolescent will do. the effect is that while choking entrepreneurial spirit off at the root, the governement continues to invest in dinosaurs such as the auto industry so that we can preserve”jobs”.

    small communities can only survive by expanding through industrial developement or wither due to inflation.

  • 7. C. Fraser  |  June 30, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    “small communities can only survive by expanding through industrial developement or wither due to inflation.”

    I disagree. I can’t believe that there is only one path to follow. There must be a different path that minds much more acute than mind can implement.

  • 8. Why Can’t I Be You « Canadian Fermentation  |  December 9, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    […] I’m not.  I’m just a guy with a blog and nothing better to do than wonder what it would be like to be David Suzuki; David Suzuki kicking […]


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