We should all realize by now that the leaders at the State and Federal levels are stagnated. They are not going to help the majority of citizens to whom they are sworn to represent. Part of the problem is due to party politics. The Democrat and Republican parties cancel each other’s decisions out and most of us end up with a big fat zero. Instead of voting for ideas and solutions, instead of actually evaluating the candidates on the basis of their proposed plans, many Americans vote straight party line.
Most City and County governments offer a more level playing field, although not all of them as some municipal governments are as embroiled in party politics they are at the state and national levels. However, at the local level, particularly the level of city government, individual citizens–regardless their stature in the community– have a much better opportunity to exercise their influence on local officials and offer ideas for positive change for the community.
I encourage everyone to work with their local governments to establish the following committees:
1. FORM A COMMITTEE FOR STUDYING THE IMPACT OF THE HOUSING CRISIS ON THE LOCAL COMMUNITY - and offering solutions. The County of San Bernardino California has already created such a citizen’s committee.
2. FORM A COMMITTEE FOR STUDYING METHODS FOR CREATING JOBS IN THE LOCAL COMMUNITY
I strongly suggest that this committee exclude the local Chamber of Commerce. They have have more than 30 years to represent the majority of the people in their community and most of them have failed miserably.
Note: for at least the past 20 years the local Chambers of Commerce and Rotary Clubs have met with representatives from Wall Street corporations to discuss how many concessions the local community can make to these corporations in order to attract these corporations to locate in their community. In the process, many communities have sold out their people, eroded their tax base, actually increased taxes for citizens, and polluted the local environment to accommodate the demands of these Wall Street corporations for their investors’ bottom line.
As I have written elsewhere in many posts, communities should diversity the business models in their community in order to stabilize their local economies. There are currently two primary business models in most communities: the Wall Street Business Model with its primary benefactor being the investor–not the consumer and not the worker; and then the Mom/Pop small business shop. Neither business model contributes to a stabilized local economy. If the bean counters of a corporation find that the bottom line is better served by shutting down the plant, they will shut down the plant and issue pink slips. Small businesses often have only one or two owners. If something happens to one of these owners, then the business often folds. While keeping both of these business models, we still need to create a third business model–employee owned, locally held (by at least 15 people) businesses. MORE
3. FORM A COMMITTEE FOR EVALUATING THE BENEFIT OF THE CURRENT TAX INCENTIVES THAT WALL STREET CORPORATIONS IN THE COMMUNITY ARE RECEIVING.
This should be done and then action taken to re-negotiate these deals. An April 2012 PEW study titled Evidence Counts, revealed that many states don’t even have programs in place to evaluate the effectiveness of tax incentives and other “job creation” giveaways.
This is important. Every dollar spent on tax incentives, infrastructure or other giveaways to attract business and jobs is a dollar local and state governments can’t spend on education, health care, transportation for the rest of us and critical government services. Most communities today don’t have any dollars to spare. Incentive programs ought to be monitored to make sure taxpayers are getting a good deal, not just giving good deals to big corporations.
These tax incentives often hit citizens from all sides. For example, if members of the local Chamber of Commerce talk a local utility into offering a reduction in rates to a corporation that promises to locate in their community, who do think pays for the cost of that reduction? It’s the people in the community who will experience a rise in their utility rates.
A few years ago, I remember reading an article that calculated the cost of the minimum wage jobs that Toyota promised the taxpayers in a community in Alabama by bringing in a plant. Each one of those minimum wage jobs cost the taxpayers $100,000. The writer of the article proposed a sensible solution: Instead of offering Toyota the opportunity to provide jobs for this community that the leaders of the government instead pay these workers $50,000 each (far more than the minimum wage they would be paid by Toyota) and then pass the other $50,000 per job in savings to the taxpayers .
4. FORM A COMMITTEE TO EXAMINE THE AMOUNT OF TAX DOLLARS THAT ARE BEING SPENT TO “SERVICE THE DEBT” OF THE LOCAL COMMUNITY AND THEN OFFER SOLUTIONS TO RENEGOTIATE THESE FEES
Most local government today are paying a crushing amount of their budgets in fees, interest and other charges to Wall Street banks. This information is found in the annual budget of your local government in the section titled “Expenditure” under the label of “debt” or “debt service”.
Local governments have a lot of bully power to renegotiate these unbalanced and unfair (to the public) contracts.
In closing, remember that the report issued by the committee is not the solution. Taking action is the solution. Here is a cartoon I created to remind you.