Sunday, January 3, 2010

Movement Economics?

"Viewed from a higher vantage point, the ongoing skirmishes over the stimulus package illuminate a deep challenge for our movement: the absence of a shared narrative that can articulate the connection between equity and prosperity, between cyclical and structural crises, between investment in poor communities and economic growth."

Deepak Bhargava and Seth Borgos, Making the Stimulus Work for You, Shelterforce, Fall 2009.

On the one hand, these are old questions about distribution,consumption, economic efficiency, etc. The fact that the "movement" is paying attention to them today is a statement about the movement itself -- a good thing, I think. Even in what we now euphemistically think of as "good times," the accepted narrative was that we at least tolerate a certain amount (a large amount) of unemployment and inequality.On the other hand, Bhargava and Borgos rightly point out that many supporters of the Obama Administration settled for a stimulus without targeting to low income and communities of color outside of safety net -- being reasonable people who settled for progressive trickle down.

Coming up with a common narrative is about definitions and degrees of hope and optimism -- for the green economy,manufacturing, skills gaps, and innovation. Some would even argue for a more robust safety net to make the inevitable bad jobs into better jobs. Others call for a survivalist return to the land and self help.

"Nonetheless, we view the legislation[ARRA] as a qualified success--not just for its beneficial effects on the economy, but also for its stimulative impact on community organizing."

I hope successful community organizing in the future doesn't require a second stimulus.

No comments: