I find the attitude of the Tuscan Italians opposing the expansion of the Siena airport to be a refreshing change of pace from the typical “expand at all costs” American business attitude. Yes, I’m a capitalist, but I’m also a Catholic and the needs of communities and persons must come before that of business. Economic expansion is not an isolated good, but must also be weighed against other factors.
Progress cannot be measured only in terms of raising gross domestic product, said Luciano Fiordoni, an economist who spoke at a recent anti-airport rally in Siena. “You have to factor in quality of life,” he said. “We don’t object to growth, but our main intent is to remain human.”
That is a very Catholic point of view, similar to what Pope John Paul II often said. Contrast this with the usual American impulse to “preserve” a place that attracts tourists for its authentic historical charm by expanding access and “Disney”-fying it so that it becomes only a caricature of what made it lovable in the first place.
A prime example would be any of the popular Maine coastal towns, beloved for their old New England seafaring charm, whose shops have all become boutique outlets that no proper fisherman could afford, much less want to patronize and whose tiny streets have become clogged with vehicle traffic nearly every day in the summer. Perhaps they would have been better off without all the inns and hotels and the interstate off-ramp even if it meant not so many of us could visit as we’d like.