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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 2/7/09

Want True Economic Stimulus, Obama? Replace Trickle Down With Bottom Up Community Driven Economic Models

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Want True Economic Stimulus, Obama? Replace Trickle Down With Bottom Up Community Driven Economic Models

On the eve of the largest economic stimulus package in US history, valued at upwards of $900 Billion, the republicans and democrats duke it out over both philosophical and tactical problems with the bill.  It’s the bill so much as the method that is flawed to the core, boding badly for Americans.  Obama is sadly been unable to understand and apply the very root and philosophical economic success of his “bottom up” grassroots campaign to this very important stimulus recovery package.  The package is woefully centralized in Obama’s ‘inner circle’ of legislators and woefully centralized in how the money will get distributed to mainstreet, which spells certain doom for it’s execution creating neither stimulus nor recovery of our rapidly deflating balloon of a US economy.

The question remains, how did Obama raise more money than Clinton and then go on to turn down Corporate PAC funding and continue to fundraise many tens of millions more than McCain, a total of close to $686M.  The answer is the “bottoms up” community based progressive grassroots movement.  In fact, I personally can pinpoint Obama’s funding success as early as back in 2003, in a small café where 4 of my close progressive friends, Clay, Tim, Kimberly and myself met with a little over 30 overwhelming excited progressive democrats, excited by a darkhorse candidate for President named Howard Dean.  We went from in February 2003, being folks that could fit inside a café, to building a 20,000 member organization, raising over $2M for Dean and many millions more for Obama, and building the grassroots electronic tools to start a whole new form of political fundraising called the $25-$75 donor.  

We encouraged folks who never before considered politics important to do something small from hosting a house party, to making buttons to attending a rally.  This same ‘expansion of interested parties’ is what we need with this economic stimulus. Somehow we need ordinary folks to care about and participate in reshaping their own communities economically.  Somehow, the rest of the country was busy doing exactly what we in Georgia had conceived, taking back our country and our economy by encouraging smart progressives to donate time and talent.  Howard Dean merely took the already ‘strong and growing’ progressive grassroots funding movement and capitalized on it in his 50 state strategy until all of a sudden that same movement was able to pick, fund and escalate with a clear mandate, their candidate, Obama into office.  While Obama is not a proclaimed progressive, let it be a clear fact of history, his rise to power was entirely resulting from the progressive grassroots network and it’s brilliant bottoms up, small donor strategies.  Let’s also not forget this chapter of history, when Bush had lied thru election fraud his way into office both in 2004 and 2000, seized control of every major unit of government including the Dept. of Justice, the Pentagon, and city/state/federal judges, owing to a small bottoms up group of cowboy progressives, we managed to build a grassroots movement that became the norm for political success stories.  Bottom up economies are the antithesis to Reagan’s trickledown theories of economic stimulus, and bottoms up is the only thing that can save us now!  It could be argued that most of the great laws in this country are from bottoms up citizens pushing relentlessly on legislators who begrudgingly passed such momentous acts as the Civil rights act of 1965 and more recently, the exciting “Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act”.

Today, as a minority Republican group of tired Senate lackeys wields their only weapon left, the filibuster, and even more sycophantish democrat Senators with all the power to call a vote and win, will subsequently hand over the crown jewels of the economic stimulus replacing substantive community economic growth with defense industry ‘violence’ based funding.  Once again, bombs win out over babies, butter and education.  Reductions totaling $80 billion will Eliminate the following important community based “Bottom Up” Economic Stimulus:

Head Start, Education for the Disadvantaged, School improvement, Child Nutrition, Firefighters, Transportation Security Administration, Coast Guard, Prisons, COPS Hiring, Violence Against Women, NASA, NSF, Western Area Power Administration, CDC, Food Stamps, Public Transit $3.4 billion, School Construction $60 billion


Increases For Republican Pork Projects Include:

Defense operations and procurement, STAG Grants, Brownfields, Additional transportation funding

Why am I not surprised to see this shift of good for bad economic programs?  Even Obama, with his powerful staff of former Citibank crooks as economic advisors, cannot extricate himself from a very poisoned system long enough to fix it.  His only solution left, as President, is to wield the powerful executive branch left by Bush, to take radical actions to put communities and ‘bottom up’ entities in charge of solving the economic crisis.  Obama had better craft a Plan B, incase his plan A of a badly formed $900B stimulus package not only fails, but accelerates the deleveraging of assets and drives inflation to the kind of highs that truly will push us into a devastating depression, countrywide.

There are very worrisome signals that Obama is unable and unwilling to exercise such a philosophical push for ‘bottoms up’ economics.  At a time when he has historic approval ratings, he must strike while the iron is hot and make bold, almost dictatorial moves to put the bottom up economic model into place quickly while none of the neocons still left in Government are looking.  The most disturbing recent event for me, is that all current money earmarked for WA state, as described by the Governor’s top guy who manages such budgets, is administered from DC and all grantors requesting access to those budgets will be handled from DC.  This centralized style of budget dispensation, not only concentrates those who will actually get the money as those close to Obama’s favored friends and family circle of Chicago ex-cons & people like Valerie Jarrett who still sits on the board of Rezco’s slumlord real estate ventures, but adds a layer of timing and bureaucracy caused by centralization that not only slows down the funding, but due to lack of localized community awareness, almost guarantees the communities needing the money the most will receive bubkus, while wealthier “better represented communities” such as Seattle will get the lion’s share.  The problem with Seattle is that it’s in a population negative growth curve (fewer people moving there and less population growth), while my district (5th LD Washington) is going thru an estimated 500% growth.  Putting money in Seattle instead of here in Snoqualmie, means you will create ghost towns in rural or ex-urben less represented areas all over America and you will essentially create the dustbowl vision of dirty, unkempt, and economically dead towns all over parts of America that currently have the household growth needed to sustain the economy.  My community is stocked full of Sr. Managers from Boeing in Microsoft, but unemployment and a 10% foreclosure rate on the ridge will drive these qualified professionals elsewhere and we’ll lose the very asset we needed to grow our community, the checkbooks of successful employed folks.

People live in Snoqualmie because of the vision of a place that is work, play and live, near mountains and safe for your kids to bike to the local towns or over to the creeks that are still largely unpolluted.  Without bottom up economics, these towns will starve, people will move back to larger, more polluted urban areas, and the whole goal of ‘green’ will be defeated by this rural flight and burdening population on centers already too big to sustain their populace.  I’ll bet of the $900B, Snoqualmie is slated to get NOTHING.  Mostly because our republican senator and 2 republican house representatives are too busy placating their lobbyist friends to do anything for their own communities.

The way to solve a big problem is break it up into as many tiny pieces as possible, share those pieces with as many folks as possible and then watch as those little problems, get solved overnight and in aggregate, solved in tiny portions, move the entire US economy back onto the world’s #1 stage.  This decentralized approach is the opposite of the Obama approach which is to centralize the distribution and access to funds.  There are 30,000 total cities in the US from large to small.  Divided into the $900Bn, that equates to a little over $3M per city.  I personally know that such an infusion, given in equal proportion to community banks, and allowed to earn interest as it’s being parceled out, would start a self-sustaining “bottoms up” approach.  The next big thing is to NOT FAVOR existing city, state or federal elected officials for grants.  Assume that incumbent elected officials, by their nature are corrupt and great at ‘gaming’ the election system and no longer represent the people. These people have corporate interests ahead of citizen interests.  These are not the people you want in charge of dispensing that $3M in the city of Snoqualmie.  Who you want are the citizens gathering, deciding collectively how they spend that money.  One thing I learned on my campaign trail is to trust the citizens, they are often wiser than elected officials as it pertains to their children, their healthcare and their finances.  But don’t decide based on majority rule, that also gets you into trouble.. work thru locally trusted community leaders.  Get republican/democrat titles out of it and make it a true representation of the diversity of the community.

Convene a city citizen gathering, appoint leaders, and have these leaders work in concert with city officials, making the community leaders MORE POWERFUL to determining HOW the money is spent.  Make it clear, this is their only shot at economic survival is to spend this $3M wisely.  If some cities choose to go onto a gold standard, do not stand in their way.  If some chose to spend it attracting Korean cellphone jobs into their city, do not stand in their way with complicated and bureaucratic ‘buy american’ rhetoric which is hard to sort out when it’s a Korean company, building a factory, hiring Mexican floor workers and American middle management to run the factory.   At that point who decides if the products of that factory is worthy of “buy American?”.  If it creates jobs in the local community, that’s good enough for the city.  More importantly, the next step is to ask the community to come up with an energy descent plant that gives them the ability to decrease their oil consumption while gaining complete control of the means to feed all residents in their community with something as simple as 5-10 citizen administered ‘community food gardens’ that can be cultivated to grow masses of crops and used to sell raw fruits and vegetables and decrease dependence on chain stores for livelihood.  

More importantly, when the citizen plan is fully formulated, then work with city officials to move their existing funding and models into a similar model for how the $3M is being spent, including percentages being spent on what matters most to communities.  Highspeed transit may not be a high priority to Snoqualmie but to Seattle, it’s a high priority.  To us, simply creating more bike trails to get people out of cars and into a situation of being able to bike to eateries and stores would solve many problems of costing gas and expending carbon fuels and also give non-car residents amazing access to areas they can spend their money locally instead of where buses go currently.

Finally, it’s clear to me with all the wrangling on Capitol Hill today that none of the ‘centralized’ top of the foodchain elected officials consider the little guy important enough to consult.  There has been little to no citizen debate on this the biggest expenditure of US tax dollars in US history.

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Want True Economic Stimulus, Obama? Replace Trickle Down With Bottom Up Community Driven Economic Models

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