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The Three Myths of Growth

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Do we need more growth, or less?

Most people agree that growth has negative effects on public safety, sense of community, environmental quality, and on traffic congestion and mobility. A significant tradeoff, however, seems to be the improved employment opportunities that most feel are created by growth.

Growth proponents say growth produces jobs and economic prosperity. They say growth builds the tax base, providing needed public revenues. And, given these benefits, proponents advocate that we should actively pursue growth using economic-development programs, tax subsidies for business, and other means.

Each year, the State of Oregon spends hundreds of millions of dollars in economic development funds and hundreds of millions more for public infrastructure to support and encourage growth. As a rough estimate, these growth subsidies amount to an annual cost in excess of $400 per year for every taxpayer in the state.

With so much at stake, it is important to take a more critical look at the claims in support of growth ...

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