Personal/Political ~ Josette Brose-Eichar

Josette Brose-Eichar


When enough is never enough

Posted on February 2, 2024 by Josette Brose-Eichar

If your economy requires people to consume things they don’t need or even want, and to do more of it each year than the year before, just to keep the whole edifice from collapsing, then you need a different economy. So wrote Jason Hickel.

My parents were broke. I grew up angry as I saw other kids who had tons of stuff and new clothes whining about something they just had to have. After high school, working minimum-wage jobs, I was following in my parents’ footsteps. Again the anger would boil up inside me when someone started the same whining about how much more stuff they needed, when they appeared to be living pretty well.

Today some of my “conservative” friends do the same thing.

The anger is now gone. I live a comfortable life and have everything I need. But, I still get comments like, how can you live without Alexa, how can you drive an old car, or that you must experience fine dining at $300 a person. Yet, when I contrast how I am living today with how I grew up, I know I am living a life my parents could not have imagined. I have everything I need, a cozy small house, savings, no worries about paying the bills or buying food, nothing to worry about from a practical standpoint.

Then I watch the world around me in Sonoma Valley. I see a society that believes we must have more, more, more. Like the idea that people must just keep consuming to have a healthy economy, our leaders seem to believe we just need to keep building more and more expensive stuff or the whole place will implode. We can never have enough high-end hotels, mega-mansion second homes, outrageously expensive restaurants, $100 a person wine tastings, and shops selling clothes that cost more than I spend on food for a month.

At the State of Sonoma Valley, I heard that we must increase revenue if we are to survive, and to do so Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT), which is currently 29% and our main source of revenue, must also grow. 

What if, like it says in the Jason Hickel quote, we need a different economy? Maybe we need a new model. We have severe income inequality and all the high priced hotels in the world will not change that. Developments with token amounts of affordable housing will not change that. And bringing more wealthy tourists here will certainly not change that.

Maybe we need to concentrate on making a comfortable and worry-free life for the people who live and work here, instead of focusing on endless growth.  

Ideas such as special districts to create affordable housing for those that work here, not just everyone in the state who qualifies. Ideas like using modular and tiny homes instead of the status quo. In the development pipeline today, there is one project that could actually provide community benefit, the Paul’s Resort project on El Verano which will create a 72-unit affordable housing complex as well as a 120-room hotel. A 120-room hotel may be too much, too big, but at least this project provides real affordable housing.

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