David Morris

David Morris is vice president of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

Recent Articles

The Once and Future Carbohydrate Economy

Less than 200 years ago, industrializing societies were carbohydrate economies. In 1820, Americans used two tons of vegetables for every one ton of minerals. Plants were the primary raw material in the production of dyes, chemicals, paints, inks, solvents, construction materials, even energy. For the next 125 years, hydrocarbon and carbohydrate battled for industrial supremacy. Coal gases fueled the world's first urban lighting systems. Coal tars ushered in the synthetic dyes industries. Cotton and wood pulp provided the world's first plastics and synthetic textiles. In 1860, corn-derived ethanol was a best-selling industrial chemical, and as late as 1870, wood provided 70 percent of the nation's energy. The first plastic was a bioplastic. In the mid-19th century, a British billiard ball company determined that at the rate African elephants were being killed, the supply of ivory could soon be exhausted. The firm offered a handsome prize for a product with properties similar to ivory,...

Rooting the Home Team

All over America, owners are demanding extravagant subsidies and tax breaks for new stadiums. If communities want to keep their teams, there's often a cheaper solution than giving way to these demands. Follow the example of Green Bay.

In the last Sunday in January, an elated John Elway stood on the gridiron where his Denver Broncos had just beaten the Green Bay Packers 31-24, and announced to millions of worldwide television viewers that the best part about finally winning the Super Bowl was how much it meant to his longtime fans, the people of Denver. Mere months later, the owners of the newly crowned Super Bowl champions announced they might move the team to another city if Denver fails to come up with $250 million for a new stadium -- even though the team itself is valued at only $182 million. Denver's predicament is not uncommon. More than 50 million Americans in almost 30 urban areas stand to lose a professional sports team in the near future unless their local governments agree to subsidize new, amenity-laden stadiums. But why should a community pay millions more than a team is worth simply to keep it local for another 10 or 20 years -- especially since tax revenue generated by a stadium is usually less than...