Taxes as Commons

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= argument to see Taxes a commons, combined with Participatory Budgeting

Description

Jay Walljasper:

"Taxes are actually an important element of the commons — ideally it’s a mutual of form of solving problems and pursuing opportunities that can’t be as efficiently or equitably accomplished through individualized action. So widespread resistance to paying taxes, no matter how illogical, poses a major hurdle for creating a commons-based society.

To boost the commons, it is important to help people see taxes in a new light.

One promising way to accomplish this is exploring new ways to bring a greater of spirit of democracy into how taxes are spent. Citizens themselves are the very best authorities on the effectiveness of how tax dollars are spent in their own communities. Taking advantage of their expertise in deciding which programs to support and tapping their ideas for what else needs to be done could be invaluable. This idea has already been proven to work in two cities worlds apart from each other." (http://onthecommons.org/content.php?id=2340)


Examples

... of participatory budgetting:

Porto Alegre

"Porto Alegre, Brazil (population 1.3 million) decided to do exactly that after the left wing Workers’ Party was elected to office in 1989. They threw open the budgeting process to anyone that wanted to take part. Citizens gather in neighborhood assemblies to talk over what’s most needed in their own parts of town, and then elect representatives to advise the city council on government initiatives and financial priorities. This “participatory budget” process has been credited in lowering unemployment, improving public transit, and revitalizing poor neighborhoods." (http://onthecommons.org/content.php?id=2340)


Minneapolis

"Minneapolis, Minnesota embarked on a unique program two decades ago to put neighborhood groups in charge of how to spend millions of dollars each year. Activists across the city used to protest about how much municipal funding went into lavish downtown projects, while neighborhoods struggled with economic, crime, and housing issues. This led to an inspired idea: let neighborhoods themselves spend $20 million a year of the property tax revenues coming out of these taxpayer-supported downtown projects. That’s how the innovative Neighborhood Revitalization Program - Minneapolis (NRP) was born.

The city is divided into eighty one neighborhoods, and each was allotted a certain sum of money based on its economic needs. Communities came together in a series of meetings to discuss what could be done to improve life in their part of town. Half of the money was earmarked for housing programs, based on neighbors’ assessment of needs and their ideas for solutions. The rest of the money was available for other projects that the neighborhood would decide. Plans were then carried out by a committee elected by residents, who worked with city staff.

The Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) unleashed a tide of remarkable creativity on the part of Minneapolis residents as they conceived projects and innovations that had never before been discussed inside city hall. One community launched its own neighborhood school—a controversial idea at the time that has now become the norm throughout Minneapolis. Others refurbished business districts, improved libraries and community centers. Addressing poverty and racial injustice was part of many neighborhood’s agenda. The Neighborhood Revitalization Program, which is still underway in a scaled-back and some say less participatory form, literally changed the face of Minneapolis." (http://onthecommons.org/content.php?id=2340)


More Information

Henry George

The approach from Henry George is called Land Tax or Single Tax or even sometimes Community Rent - and is based on the idea that all such revenue should come from taxing Land Value instead of punishing improvements as most current Property Tax does.