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February 09, 2008


I hate to explicitly solicit buzz, but I think this idea is worth discussion in the wider blogosphere. This site has a wonderful, thoughtful, highly-informed, but rather small readership. If you think it's worthwhile, let me just ask you straight out to take a minute this weekend and discuss this idea on your own blog or in relevant comment threads on other blogs you read. Like most sparks of an idea, I doubt it will come to much, but if it is not passed around a bit it will most surely go out.

Sorry, did that sound like a pot reference?

I'll buy that proposal.

(In fact, I remember a short story, science fiction, in the mid-eighties, where that was done: you could direct your tax dollars, or part of them, to a specific program or goal. And one year, _everyone_ put down 'Peace' as a recipient, after they'd made all the others they wanted.)

You might have public television but I can never find one on my cable. I do have a station that claims to be "public" but is no where near it. If you like constant fund raising for hours on end, if you like Leave it to Beaver, if you see that PBS has a great show try and find it, that's public television.

Its radio station has obtained translater after translater which blocks other FM station that have great programing, like Amy Goodman.

The head of the station is a ex disc jockey at a salary of $200,000 per year and isn't worth a dollar of it.

That's public TV here in Pennsylvania. One last thing he just built a brand new auditorium. I still wondering what for.

Public TV in the USA has been and still is a giant joke, most carry more advs or what ever they call them between programs than the commerical stations.

Do you have any objection to me reprinting it in full, with full and proper accreditation and linkage of course?

bmaz, I'd love that - thanks!

(in fact I wouldn't even mind if folks plagiarized it in full and took credit for it themselves -- I'd just like to see the idea circulating!)

Sounds good in principle, and I have no objection to cutting across the board...but. I think I may remember another "cut across the board", maybe by Pres. Reagan. The result was public facilities such as libraries, in an angry fit of hubris, simply shut down on Saturdays. Yes, they could have cut a hour a day and remained open on Saturdays but they didn't. They did the most provocative and anger-producing thing, guaranteeing an angry public response among the library using public. The result was predictable. Your idea of a seperate fund, to be used as the public decides, seems to me also guaranteed to incite devisivness.

Even if we don't authorize the appropriation of funds, perhaps we might want to include the topic on all tax returns. Given the size of the study, we're almost guaranteed to get valid data in which direction the electorate would like additional expenditures to be made.

There's actually a lot of precedent for this - participatory budgeting is an internationally recognized best practice of governance. It's a budgeting process that was developed in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre and has since been adopted by over a thousand city governments (and some county and state governments and other public agencies).

See http://www.ParticipatoryBudgeting.org for info

Or you can read a recent post on participatory budgeting in the US, which I wrote for The Movement Vision Lab:

Love this idea. But I'd like to add, let's turn the participatory part into a live TV show a la American Idol or Dancing with the Stars. I'm totally serious. Spokespersons with various perspectives could advocate and people could call in or vote on line. "It's Your Money, America!" Ratings would be high and couch potatoes might take some interest in their government for a change.

Seems like a great idea to me. I'm just wondering how you'd keep from corrupting the process of deciding what the choices would be. You've got to figure there would be all sorts of string pulling, deception, ect. Perhaps putting it on the tube isn't such a bad idea.

My father used to say the federal income tax forms should have a blank circle on them so every taxpayer could make their own pie chart for how they would want the nation's wealth spent. What a plebiscite that would be!

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