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Growth Ponzi Scheme

Best of 2018: The More We Grow, the Poorer We Become

Best of 2018: The More We Grow, the Poorer We Become

Local governments can’t take on more and more promises without generating enough wealth to meet those obligations—not without a reckoning. We need a radical revolution in how we plan, manage, and inhabit our cities, counties, and neighborhoods. We need a Strong Towns approach.

Dispatches from Spokane: Living a Soft Default

Dispatches from Spokane: Living a Soft Default

Spokane is an excellent illustration of a “soft default”. Like virtually every other city in the US, it is functionally insolvent, but functional insolvency rarely results in legal bankruptcy—just diminished services and deferred maintenance.

A Texas-Sized Pavement Problem

A Texas-Sized Pavement Problem

Collin County, Texas officials claim they need $12.6 billion for new roads in the next 30 years, and none of it for maintenance of what they’ve already built. That way lies madness.

Dallas's Ticking Time Bomb of Infrastructure Costs

Dallas's Ticking Time Bomb of Infrastructure Costs

A recent D Magazine story nailed the problem with Dallas’s development pattern: the city has way more infrastructure than it can afford to maintain. But its solution—assessing local taxes differently—didn’t go far enough.

Impact Fees Don't Mean Development Is Paying for Itself

Impact Fees Don't Mean Development Is Paying for Itself

Development impact fees are supposed to “make development pay its own way.” But if your development pattern is fundamentally unproductive, they don’t. They’re a one-time cash hit in exchange for taking on a permanent liability.

The More We Grow, the Poorer We Become

The More We Grow, the Poorer We Become

Local governments can’t take on more and more promises without generating enough wealth to meet those obligations—not without a reckoning. We need a radical revolution in how we plan, manage, and inhabit our cities, counties, and neighborhoods. We need a Strong Towns approach.

The Road Ahead for Cobb County

The Road Ahead for Cobb County

Cobb County, Georgia, has long been all-in on debt-fueled, unsustainable growth, and faces a tough road ahead as poverty grows and its ability to provide services declines. What are some rational responses to this predicament?

Shut Out of Housing Gains

Shut Out of Housing Gains

Homeownership is supposed to be the path to wealth and a comfortable retirement, but for millions of Americans, it never was. One central reason is that we’ve embraced a development pattern in which new places cannibalize the wealth of old places.

Cobb County’s Triple-A Bond Rating is a Joke

Cobb County’s Triple-A Bond Rating is a Joke

County leadership continually brags about its low tax rate and high amount of services. But if you doubt the fundamental math behind that equation, there’s no need to look behind the curtain because the ratings agencies have given Cobb top marks.

The Dollars and Sense of Annexation

The Dollars and Sense of Annexation

When a city annexes surrounding land, it’s usually touted as a benefit for residents and municipal budgets. This could not be further from the truth. Here’s the data to prove it.

Cobb County: Addicted to Growth

Cobb County: Addicted to Growth

Why do places like Cobb County, Georgia keep spending more and more, while their municipal budgets go further and further into the red? This week at Strong Towns, we’re going to dig into the tale of Cobb County: a poster child for the Ponzi-scheme approach to growth.

A Strong Towns Crash Course

A Strong Towns Crash Course

If you're new to this space, welcome. Here are 5 steps to help get yourself acquainted with our message and our movement.

Debt is Not a Funding Source

Debt is Not a Funding Source

If public officials are going to use debt to pay for things, they must be vigilant about their lack of real skin the game.