Evaluating Growth Proposals

Swain H (1975). Evaluating Growth Proposals. IIASA Working Paper. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: WP-75-033

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Abstract

Professor Foster's invitation to this symposium hinted pretty strongly that he would like me to say something trenchant about continued federal fiscal responsibility, after the initial pump-priming, in a growth center strategy. At the time I quite happily agreed. Later reflection, however, convinced me that this was not one of the key questions for the Halifax region nor in fact a very important one at all. What I propose to discuss instead is a structured way for a community to study and debate its future. The twin assumptions, that the future is malleable in important ways -- "ours to design" -- and that its designers ought to be the present residents, are now part of the conventional planning wisdom. Just how far they are (or ought to be) true, though, is still a good question. Part of this paper has to do with shortcomings in present ways in which communities now study their futures, especially in the more analytic methods propounded by fellow professionals, and with suggestions for alternative. approaches. Along the way, and in the blissful absence of real data, I shall mention aspects of some potential futures that may be disquieting and maybe mildly provocative, and allude from time to time to intergovernmental finance.

The heart of the argument is that every alternative proposal for this region's future ought to be examined for its feasibility, its implications, and community valuations of those implications; and that in addition to the interests of the groups party to the decision, a prudent community will sequentially evaluate a proposal in terms of resilience, equity and (only then) efficiency. The order is important. There is little sense in arguing about the desirability of infeasible policies or unattainable goals. Structuring the learning process in this fashion allows many more options to be addressed with the same resources of community time and energy.

Most of the rest of this paper is concerned with explaining the italicized words above. Let me begin by defining one of the many possible alternative futures of the Halifax-Dartmouth metropolitan region as an exemplary straw horse.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Working Paper)
Research Programs: Human Settlements and Services Area (HSS)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 01:42
Last Modified: 26 Jul 2016 23:10
URI: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/395

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