This blog is part of an online learning platform which includes the Pathways to New Community Paradigms Wiki and a number of other Internet based resources to explore what is termed here 'new community paradigms' which are a transformational change brought about by members of a community.

It is intended to offer resources and explore ideas with the potential of purposefully directing the momentum needed for communities to create their own new community paradigms.

It seeks to help those interested in becoming active participants in the governance of their local communities rather than merely passive consumers of government service output. This blog seeks to assist individuals wanting to redefine their role in producing a more direct democratic form of governance by participating both in defining the political body and establishing the policies that will have an impact their community so that new paradigms for their community can be chosen rather than imposed.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Economic Growth and Equity within a Community - Benefiting the 100%

In the last post, we talked about Budgeting For Community Prosperity (wiki page), putting forward the idea that budgeting for community prosperity requires transparency as one means of addressing the upcoming period of austerity in which most communities will find themselves. Important though as budgetary transparency is, just as important is understanding where the dollars come from, where they are going and how they are used.

Within the creation of a community, beyond the individual accumulation of wealth by individuals, families, organizations or businesses there is also an emergent community wealth.

This is not a socialistic notion that is being put forward as it is not owned or directed by or derived from or generated by government. It is the community working together through the efforts of individuals, families, organizations and businesses that creates a community's wealth.  Local government can take steps to encourage its development and taps into it for municipal revenue.

More will be said of this concept in a future post but the benefits of a community's wealth should be made to benefit to the greatest extent possible all members of that community.

We are now speaking of the impacts of Economic Growth and Equity (wiki page) by a community and within a community. This is not a 1% versus 99% issue. The 1% does not live in the same communities as the 99%. People can choose their own brand of politics and economics for their families which in aggregate will define the community but within any community that one calls home it should be the 100% that is considered when making decisions for the community as a whole.

Under the post Governance through Community we spoke of factions within a community potentially being marginalized. The budget process is one way by which this can happen. A new community paradigm approach to public policy at the local level would hopefully be able to overcome this practice put forward by an incumbent political processes.

There are two levels were this could happen. First, at the level of broad policy based issues of employment, fiscal policy or environment among others that impact communities not only at a regional and state level but also at the national and global level. This adds to the complexity of issues with which a community must deal.

One relevant resource for these types of discussions is The Hamilton Project of the Brookings Institution.
The Hamilton Project seeks to advance America’s promise of opportunity, prosperity, and growth. The Project’s economic strategy reflects a judgment that long-term prosperity is best achieved by fostering economic growth and broad participation in that growth, by enhancing individual economic security, and by embracing a role for effective government in making needed public investments. We believe that today’s increasingly competitive global economy requires public policy ideas commensurate with the challenges of the 21st Century.
Another institution concerned with Economic Growth and Equality is the Center for American Progress.
The Center for American Progress held a forum on economic growth and equality. After opening remarks from Vanessa Cárdenas and Angela Glover Blackwell, members of the first panel talked about the link between economic growth and equality. Economist Emmanuel Saez in his presentation used graphs to show the relationship between equitable distribution of wealth and economic growth.
There are, to be fair, other organizations out there with the same focus but a different political perspective. These organizations though take a more community based approach in line with the thinking of this blog.

An organization with a focused on-the-ground concern regarding the question of community benefit for all members through Equity In Public Funds is the Advancement Project California. This approach works more directly with the concept of community paradigms.
Our goal is to provide public finance data, tools and training to local community-based organizations to strengthen their public interest and organizing campaigns. Equity in Public Funds partners with and increases the ability of community-based organizations to produce analyses of City and County fiscal inequities and advocate for reform.
This is the same organization behind Healthy City (wiki page). The Advancement Project offers Following the Money EPF.pdf as a tool to address concerns of budgetary transparency raised here and the last post by providing information on:
  • How to read a city budget, 
  • Where to find other key information that is not included in the budget, and 
  • When and how to influence the city budget. 
While the document deals specifically with the City of Los Angeles budget there are still lessons that can be learned.

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