My Turn: Need vs. desire in Tahoe | SierraSun.com

My Turn: Need vs. desire in Tahoe

Myron B "Mike" Hawkins

I believe most of us define a “need” as a “necessity” or something that is required as opposed to a “desire” that is something that we want or crave, but is not vital to our survival.

Although there is a “gray” area between need and desire in some cases, basically, we consider our necessities to be food, clothing and shelter, and in some circumstances, life and liberty. On the other hand, we consider avarice, i.e., the craving for wealth or gain, excessive profits and personal gratification/enjoyment to be desires.

Most of us, I believe, do distinguish between these two in our daily lives and aspirations.

From statements I have heard and my observations of decisions made by governmental bodies over the years, our local governing agencies and their staffs have lost sight of the distinction between need and desire, particularly as related to their responsibilities “to preserve, restore and enhance the unique natural and human environment of the Lake Tahoe region, now and forever.”

I believe that preserving and improving the natural and human environment of the Basin are “necessities” and that any priority that agencies give to a project or action on the basis of the applicant’s desires rather than the overall needs of the people (and nature) is abhorrent. In addition, any assumptions that agencies make that federal and state funding will be able to repair the environmental damage caused by inappropriate projects is inexcusable, as are the policies that permit and encourage so called “mitigation” measures that pour money into government agencies and/or merely allow environmental damage to occur while pretending that the environment is being “saved” at some other location.

Although some bureaucrats admit that some environmental problems are often the result of loopholes in existing laws, ordinances and codes, the same bureaucrats are reluctant to pursue any changes that could eliminate the loopholes. Perhaps most discouraging is the appearance that many members of our governing boards are quite satisfied with the philosophy that a desire expressed by an “important” applicant automatically becomes a need or a necessity for our community.

Admittedly, the environmental damage caused by a single project may seem insignificant, but considering the huge number of projects foreseen, each project drives another nail into Tahoe’s environmental coffin.

Until those members of our governmental bodies who cannot distinguish between need and desire become reeducated ” or purged, the long-range future of the Lake Tahoe region looks grim.