Centers for Economic Planning
720 448 2846
1: Center for Economic Planning Summary
2: CEP Basic Structure
3: Public Committees
4: Personnel and Responsibilities
5: Example City
7: Election Coordinator
9: Research Assistance
10: Feasiblity in Respect to Scale
Center for Economic Planning Summary
The aim of this outline is to illustrate the details of a Center for Economic Planning including general personnel responsibilities, functions, and examples of how the public would use their CEP.
A Center for Economic Planning is created at the municipal level, either by a city, a network of cities, or by a county. Funded by a small sales tax, a Center for Economic Planning operates through elected management and direct input from the public. The CEP is tasked with creating and acquiring businesses according to the interest and will of the public and achieving profit through these businesses.
The purpose of the CEP is to allow all people to participate in decisions of production, where investment will be made not only for profit, but to address the needs of the community. Need based investment is inclusive of sustainability and accelerating the transition to renewable energy on par with the need to ensure the habitability of the planet for future generations.
A CEP will increase the amount of opportunities available, and increase the quality of those opportunities, which over time may positively impact the quality of opportunities across the market. Finally, although created through legislation, the CEP is not managed or directed by the municipality responsible for its creation. The profits from CEP owned businesses can be applied in accordance with public will to influence and direct politics the same as private wealth represented through industry has and continues to decide the interests represented in government. Although created through legislation, owned and directed by people who live within the area it was created, the Center for Economic Planning exists as a private company, the same as a corporation is owned by share holders, with the excpetion that the CEP is without shares and is not publically traded., and ownership is based on residency not money invested.
A Center for Economic Planning creates a synergized system, where an element of democratic process is introduced into the present state sponsored market economy. It is capitalism with middle and lower-class inclusion in decisions of production. It is the perennial injection of money into the economy by a localized democratically directed institution.
While growth itself is not an indication of lower and middle-class prosperity, when the lower and middle classes own and direct the entity enhancing the growth, prosperity is ensured for these classes. Ensured because the CEP is responsible for guaranteeing the satisfaction of its owners, and its owners satisfaction is determined by their individual prosperity.
In capitalism, production is decided by individuals, but a citizens’ ability to decide to produce something depends on their access to money, and much to do with access to money depends on how much money one already possesses. The problem is most Americans own “little or nothing at all”(1), they are reliant on the few who do own for opportunities to make money and are effectively disenfranchised from decisions of production.
(1): Thomas Picketty, Capitalism in the 21st Century, pg 248 quote “bottom 50% of wealth distribution owns little or nothing at all.” “Less than 1% of wealth.” Wolf bottom 80% possess 5% of financial wealth.
A CEP seeks to allow people to democratically wield economic power at the local level.
A CEP allows people to decide what they will produce, meaning all people will have input into the opportunities that exist for them to be productive and earn a living. This has the consequence of perpetually growing the amount of opportunities that exist in an area. Beyond simply creating more opportunities, the opportunities that exist will be more worthwhile, because the aim of a center for economic planning is not to maximize profit, but to maximize the satisfaction of the population while maintaining some profit.
Beyond creating better opportunities through CEP owned enterprises, the opportunities that exist through privately owned businesses will increase as private employers will be competing for labor in a market made more competitive by CEP business offering better wages.
Private investment is not need based but profit based. The CEP invests according to the will of the people, so in addition to the benefits mentioned in the previous paragraph of having annual investment taking place to create an ever-increasing amount of high quality jobs, and economic growth, investment is taking place to meet the needs of the community.
The most significant example of need based investment is the transition to renewable energy from fossil fuels. As long as it is more profitable to use fossil fuels than it is to develop renewable energy, private companies will continue to do so regardless of the harm it causes. Even as people recognize the need to make the transition, because people are without the means to decide what they are going to produce, this transition cannot take place. Centers for economic planning allow people to plan production centered around needs, like renewable energy, housing, resource preservation and development (like water), and other community priorities that vary by location.
The other aspect of sustainability and transitioning to renewable energy is the reality that greener behavioral choices come at a cost. It isn’t that people prefer to have greater carbon footprints, but people are without the means to reduce their carbon footprints. People are only as green as they can afford to be. By increasing individual prosperity, you empower people to make choices that are more ecologically friendly.
All people are part owners of the businesses owned by their CEP, and all people have input in how those profits are invested and distributed; so all people have a stake in the success of these businesses. In this, there is an inherent incentive to purchase from CEP owned businesses since the CEP is owned by all people of the city or the jurisdiction of the CEP. Additionally, for employees of CEP owned businesses, these employees are the owners of the parent company (the CEP) that owns the business they work for, meaning as a business becomes more profitable, the employees have influence over how those profits will be applied.
CEP owned businesses benefit from the market advantage of the public preference. Employees and consumers alike have a stake in the success of these businesses because they directly benefit from the success of these businesses. An employee is incentivized to provide the highest quality of service and efficiency, while the consumer is incentivized to purchase from him or herself (CEP owned businesses) instead of from someone else (privately owned businesses) where comparable products, services and prices are available.
In casual explanations of a CEP people have confused the CEP with a co-op, likely stemming from the assertion that employees will own the parent company that owns their company. A co-op is a worker owned business, whereas a CEP is a company designed similar to a corporation. Someone who works for a CEP owned business who lives within the city or jurisdiction of the CEP is more like an employee of a company owned by Berkshire Hathaway, than he or she is to a co-op worker.
The difference is, it is like being an employee of a company owned by Berkshire Hathaway, and the employee, and every other citizen having as much stock as Warren Buffet (of course everyone cannot have 30% share, the comparison is to say all people have as much say as anyone else in a large asset managing corporate setting). Not one share one vote, but one person one vote. The individual can organize with employees and non-employees alike to direct the profit not only of his employer, but all CEP owned businesses, and can also organize to choose and replace the board equivalent and management. The details of which will be provided in remaining portions of the paper.
In order for all people to have power, all people must have money, access to opportunities to make money, and the ability to direct sums that are capable of competing against the interests of the few who possess substantially, the interest of the haves, that are generally distinct from the general population who has not.
To reiterate, ownership is indicative of wealth, and wealth is indicative of power. Centers for Economic Planning will provide all people with ownership and wealth in the profits of popular owned businesses through the CEP. This sum will be significant enough to compete with private wealth and industry for influence in politics. The opportunities created through these businesses will also allow for the accumulation of surplus income (wealth) by individuals, raising the standard of living as well as positioning individuals to finance their own ventures.
In a nation where 50% possess 1.2% of wealth , and the bottom 70% possess less than 7% of wealth (2), centers for economic planning will allow these economically disenfranchised masses to create their own opportunities and wield economic power democratically through these institutions, to assert their will over all other categories of power. (3)
(2) Statista “Wealth Distribution in the United States 2016”. https://www.statista.com/statistics/203961/wealth-distribution-for-the-us/
(3) Economic Despotism, Chapter 1 Defining Economic Despotism. Four categories of power classified as economic power, legislative power, informational power, and coercive power. Economic power controls all categories of power. CEP allow for the masses to wield economic power democratically from the profits of CEP owned business. Democracy is created through the preexisting economically dominated hierarchy without changing the power structure. In short economic power controls all other categories of power, but through CEPs, economic power instead of being controlled solely by economic power (as in money makes money), is controlled democratically. Change without change. Economic Despotism has been removed from distribution for reasons that elude the scope of this note, although it may still be accessible through google books. The crude but pointed version of the cited portion of the book can be found on the website orioncs.net. A refined and updated version of the portion will be available soon on its own.
Again, Centers for Economic Planning cannot be wings of local governments. This would create a conflict of interest in consideration of part of the reason they will be created: these institutions are concerned with allowing people to democratically participate in politics the same way wealth and industry does presently, i.e, campaign contributions, lobbying, and funding non-profit PACs concerned with candidate selection. In this, a CEP could not be a government agency and exercise the rights of a collective person to influence politics.
Government is not an entity that has its own interest (outside of agencies justifying funding). Government is an entity that represents an interest to power.
About half of the population, the voting population is infected with the mistaken belief that their party represents their interest and the other party prevents their party from executing policy that is beneficial to the general population. The reality is, government is actually very efficient in dispersing funds to the interests they do represent (4) which is not the interest of the general population, but those who decide which candidates Americans can vote for.
(4): Fixed Fortunes: Biggest Corporate Political Interests, Spend Billions, Get Trillions. Sunlight Foundation , by Bill Allison and Sarah Harkins, 11/17/14 http://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/2014/11/17/fixed-fortunes-biggest-corporate-political-interestsspend-billions-get-trillions/ “Between 2007 and 2012, 200 of America’s most politically active corporations spent a combined $5.8 billion on federal lobbying and campaign contributions. A year-long analysis by the Sunlight Foundation suggests, however, that what they gave pales compared to what those same corporations got: $4.4 trillion in federal business and support.”
There is no reform that can correct this dysfunction. The only way for a true republic to be achieved is for the populous to direct money capable of competing against the interest of industry. Again, the only way for the population to acquire such sums, is if they own a significant share of the market. In a system inclusive of CEP a candidate can represent the public because the public is capable not only of funding the candidates campaign, but able to do so in a way where the sums carry an interest.
While small contributions are not wholly insignificant they are irrelevant in terms of carrying an interest. Small contributions of less than $250 are capable of swinging the overall funds raised by a candidate, but they are non-influential as they do not grant the individuals face time with politicians, and do not shape policy; whereas contributions of $10,000 or more are attached to policy shaping interests and offer donors or lobbyists access to politicians.
To perpetuate the illusion that money in politics is less significant, money raised by the winning candidate is often compared to money raised by the losing candidate. Regardless of the outcome, the fact remains the winning candidate and the losing candidate both raised sums that position them to be competitive. The real measure of money in politics would be a comparison between the money raised by those who are competitive, represented by the two business parties, and the success of all other candidates. The US House of Representatives at the time this was written (Oct. 2018) consisted of 235 republicans, 193 democrats, and 7 vacancies formerly occupied by 2 democrats and 5 republicans. The Senate 51 to 47 republicans and democrats with 2 independents who caucus with democrats. In this, we find money wins 100% of the time.
In a nation where CEP exist, the interest of the public is represented through the CEP who is capable of contributing influential sums that shape policy, the same way corporations and the representatives of corporations do presently.
Another benefit of a CEP is akin to what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. As previously stated, when your tax dollars are being divided by industry, directly and indirectly, outside of government contracts, the legislation that results is beneficial to entire sectors of the economy. A CEP, which will own large scale enterprises in many different sectors will benefit from the efforts of corporations in the same sector, which will contribute to the prosperity of these enterprises, and consequently the prosperity of the people who own the CEP, i.e. the people of every jurisdiction where a CEP exists.
Thomas Ferguson, the foremost authority on investment politics,wrote the following “…political action is far more costly in terms of both time and money than classical democratic theories imagined. As a consequence, popular control of the state depends on the extent to which ordinary citizens can bear those costs. Nothing metaphysical is implied here: to control the state citizens need to be able to share costs and pool resources easily. In practical terms, this requires functioning organizations – unions, neighborhood organizations, cooperatives, etc. – in civil society that represent them without enormous expenditures of time and money. There is one and only one guarantee of this: those organizations have to be controlled by and financially dependent on them.” (5)
5: Golden Rule: The Investment Theory Of Party Competition And The Logic Of Money-Driven Political Systems, Chicago, University of Chicago Press
A Center for Economic Planning creates ownership on a progressively major scale from among those who own little or nothing. This provides a majority of the population the resources to compete in politics and have their interests represented in government even if those interests are opposed to the interest of industry and wealth. A Center for Economic Planning is an “organization…that represents them (populous) without enormous expenditures of time and money. (which is)…controlled by and financially dependent on them”.
The simplest way to understand a center for economic planning is to understand a corporation. A corporation is a company owned by a group of private citizens whose share of ownership is based on how much money they invest. The only differences between a CEP and a corporation is that the shareholders consist of the people of the city where the CEP exists, shares cannot be bought nor sold, and the initial investment is funded through a sales tax since most citizens own “little or nothing at all”.
CEP Basic Structure
Corporations are chartered with mechanisms where shareholders vote to elect board members who oversee the general function of the corporation. Centers for economic planning are created with similar mechanisms, but with more input and oversight from the shareholders, who consist of the entire population of a city where the CEP exists, but the board equivalent has different functions and responsibilities.
The city will elect one Executive Planner, and each district will elect a Public Interest Manager. Because cities are already divided into districts usually with respect to population for the municipal government, these districts may be used to determine the number of PIMs required to represent the interest of a population. This is not a requirement as it may make sense for certain cities, counties, or municipal networks to consider different districting to cater to the needs of the city or jurisdiction, for reasons of efficiency, levels of development, or another purpose not considered by the author at this time.
The general process of creating an investment strategy is simple once an EP and PIMs are elected. The executive planner will draft an investment proposal inclusive of vetted public proposals. The PIMs will present the EPs proposal to the people in their district. At this time the public will have an opportunity to critique the EP’s. Prior to the PIMs presentation to their district, the EP’s plan will be made available to interested members of the public to afford CEP owners an opportunity to consider criticism and input. Much of the EP’s strategy will likely already consist of a significant amount of public input.
- The Executive Planner drafts an investment proposal.
- The details of the proposal are made available to the residents of the city.
- The Public Interest Managers present the investment proposal to the members of their district. At this time the public introduces their criticism and input to their PIM.
- The PIMs meet to discuss the contributions from their constituents and prepare a report for the EP.
- The EP incorporates additional public input into the investment proposal as well as writes rebuttals for input that’s not included.
- The cycle is repeated until an investment plan is created that the PIMs feel is acceptable to the public. At which time the PIMs will vote on the investment plan. If 3/4ths of the PIMs vote for the IP the plan will be “readied” for implementation.
- The investment plan will remain in the “readied state” for a period to be determined in the customized city charter. This will allow an opportunity for the public to veto the plan through petition if they are unsatisfied with the final results. Population size should be considered in determining the length of time a plan will remain in the “readied state”, as larger cities may require a greater length of time to gather signatures in the event of a dispute. Public vetoes are likely to be rare since PIMs will know when the public is satisfied with an investment plan, and thus would be foolish to pass a plan that is inconsistent with the public will.
- If there is no veto petition filed, implementation of the investment strategy will begin once the readied period of stasis expires.
The executive planner working with the public interest managers with the incorporation of public proposals will build an investment strategy on a trimester basis. Trimester intervals should be preferable to quarters as to not impede the execution of investment or management of investment.
In the previous portion we covered the basic structure of a center for economic planning. In a sense, it is as if the residents of the city are the shareholders, who elect a board which consists of the executive planner and the public interest managers. In a conventional corporate setting, individuals who own significant amounts of stock have greater influence over major decisions concerning the general direction of a corporation, and often it is the CEO who is among those who own significantly. In a center for economic planning there is no majority shareholder since it is a company owned by the population in the city; but there is a majority shareholder equivalent in a center for economic planning: the public committee.
A company chartered with both a republican and democratic mechanism of operation, where instead of 1 dollar 1 vote (or 1 share if the distinction must be expressed), 1 person, 1 vote, there will naturally form blocs of interest around goals, ideas, and the general direction, which will coalesce into public committees. Since these blocs of interest will be represented in meetings as well as vote in unison for the executive planner and public interest managers, the ruling power within the center for economic planning rests with the public through these blocs or committees.
Public committees are not likely to form entrenched or perpetual interests which I hope to illustrate through the following scenarios because committees will dissolve after the stated objective of the committee has been accomplished. Typically, there are five categories of investment that will be facilitated through a center for economic planning: environmental (renewable or clean energy production), collective wealth accumulation (CEP profits), individual opportunity (jobs), social (production centered around improving the lives of the disadvantaged), and political (electing politicians, raising up a new political party, lobbying for popular legislation).
Example One: Environmental Investment
Committees can form in a variety of different ways for many different purposes. The first scenario will deal with a public committee formed in the interest of environmental investment. The purpose of this scenario is not the promotion of the idea. The idea is used to demonstrate how a large scale project will incorporate different elements from the community, including government, private companies, and community members.
A citizen of a city that has a center for economic planning has an idea to incorporate a system into the streets where force generates electricity. The system is a series of wheels, rods, and springs that convert “the pulse” of passing cars into electricity. (1)
(1): Generation of Electricity Using Gravitational Energy US 4980572 A (US Patent) https://www.google.com/patents/US4980572
A center for economic planning invests for the purpose of profit, so naturally the idea contains a for profit element. To avoid the construction of new transmission lines (which may or may not be required if this sort of idea was more than hypothetical), the electricity generated will be put into the existing grid quantified in a manner similar to how a house meter works. This is comparable to a house with solar panels where the meter runs backwards because the electricity generated at the property exceeds the amount of electricity used, and consequently, the power company pays the homeowner. Carbon free energy is created and the potential for profit exists in the sale of power to the utility company.
The citizen creates a rough outline of what it would take to accomplish the project and the company the CEP would create to maintain it. Soon the citizen enlists a scientist and an engineer to create a strategy to develop the infrastructure. He recruits a lawyer with activist leanings to study the state budget looking for climate change and infrastructure allocations to subsidize the cost of the project.
To grow the committee the citizen creates an outline that is learned by others and presented to local citizen groups and organizations interested in climate change. Next the citizen notifies local union leaders and construction companies that contract with the state and inform them about the project. Presumably these companies will become interested in the project since it will mean money for the company with the winning bid, and work for the company’s employees. Additionally, these companies and union heads are usually tied to state politicians and may be able to influence favorable outcomes in state budget allocations to subsidize the cost of the project. (2)
(2): Because subsidies for infrastructure projects exist, it would be foolish for a CEP not to take advantage of these opportunities. Are public funds better applied to development owned by a few, or development that is owned by the public?
The committee for the citizens gravitational energy company of insert city is formed. Once the general details are nailed down, the citizen and other interested parties can create the proposal. The proposal will include a complete business plan, with information like cost, a range of projected profit, and of course qualifications of the individuals who will run the company.
The purpose of this scenario is not to promote the creation of electricity through force, but to demonstrate how a center for economic planning will facilitate the interest of people to power, based not on the wealth possessed by the group, but the merit of the idea and the benefit to the general population.
This project would be turn key and likely have little overhead in terms of maintenance. A team of 1 to 3 employees would be adequate to run the entire company. Duties would include monitoring equipment to ensure it is functioning properly, much of which could be accomplished through sensors incorporated into the design. Another task would be auditing the payments from the utility company to ensure the right amount of money was being paid for electricity generated. Aside from general accounting, most maintenance could be contracted, and the only other task would be considering expansion. Feats that would require 1 to 2 permanent employees.
Just to reiterate, the previous paragraphs are not the subject of a gravitational energy production company owned by a center for economic planning, but how a public committee is formed and may achieve an intended purpose. The reason to speculate on an idea which may not be economically viable, or feasible from an engineering standpoint, is to demonstrate the relationship between a center for economic planning, the public it serves, and the businesses it owns. In the same vein, in explaining the general concepts of the CEP, on a few occasions I was asked who would run the businesses, and I would get blank stares when I would answer the businesses will run the businesses. It is like asking an executive working at Wal-Mart’s corporate office who is going to run the new store and then failing to understand when he answers the staff and management.
Once the project is complete and the company is formed the committee itself will have no reason to exist since it has accomplished its objective, although in the interest of contracting (it is possible entities would be interested in retaining the company to oversee a project beyond the borders of the city) and expansion, the committee could be reconstituted. The latter is unlikely because the CEP will have a relationship and history its company. The point is committees for the most part will come and go, which is important to guarantee an interest or a set of interests does not assert undue influence at the exclusion of others.
This hypothetical company, although it would accomplish little in terms of job creation, would be an investment in producing clean energy, as well as a profitable enterprise to increase the wealth of the people where the CEP resides. Again, this is not an idea but an illustration of possibilities, intended to elucidate the process and the potential of people with a center for economic planning.
In 2011, NRG invested 400 million dollars to build the 1.6 billion dollar California Valley Solar Ranch, the remaining cost of the project was financed through low interest federal loans, grants, and subsidies. Upon completion of construction NRG was eligible to receive a 430 million dollar rebate in lieu of future tax rebates; meaning after construction they recover their initial 400 million dollar investment plus and additional 30 million dollars.
The project came complete with a contract from Pacific Gas and Electric to purchase the power generated for the next 25 years.(3) If the city of Los Angeles had a CEP, funded by a 1% sales tax, the CEP would have nearly 1 billion dollars per year to invest. (4) Instead of NRG basically having a free solar farm,(5) the people of LA would own the California Valley Solar Ranch.
The size of the project could be scaled down, but the point is, that a people with a CEP, have at their disposal, the means to mass produce renewable energy. Across the country there are people who understand the importance of climate change but typically focus their attention on the regulation of fossil fuels and limiting continued extraction. Their efforts produce no results. I mention these groups because a nation with cities that have CEP, these groups would form public committees, research subsides, technology, and develop business plans that would become items on the CEP budget, then companies.
(4): I was unable to locate sales tax information from the city, only the county rate and annual revenue was available. The billion dollar figure is based on the Example City reference which equates a 1% sales tax with 123 million dollars per 500,000 people. Los Angeles has a population of 4 million which gives us an estimate of 984 million dollars annually. Example City is based on annual sales tax revenue of Denver, and presumably the consumer market of Los Angeles is more active than Denver, thus the Los Angeles would likely generate more revenue than a billion dollars per year per percentage point of sales tax. Whatever the discrepancy is, the point being is a CEP in LA would have ample funds to invest the 400 million dollars NRG invested for the California Valley Solar Ranch.
(5): NRG invests 400 million dollars and receives a 430 million dollar rebate once the project is complete. The remainder of the project is paid for by a government loan. The loan itself can be paid back from the revenue from the infrastructure, the power generated which is already sold under contract with the utility company. It’s basically free to the company, or better than free because the rebate is greater than the investment. Publically funded, privately owned.
Example Two: Social Investment Acquisition
Fast food franchise owners cry poverty when there is discussion about minimum wage increases, but the fact remains that these establishments would still be profitable if they were paying their employees 1.5x plus what they are paying in some locations.
The evidence exists already. In San Francisco the minimum wage is 13$ an hour, meaning people who work in San Francisco at Mc Donald’s earn at least that. In Milwaukee, WI, Mc Donald’s employees start at $8.25 to $9 per hour at some locations. Additionally, the prices at the San Francisco Mc Donald’s are not greater on most menu items than they are in Milwaukee. The only other variable is volume of sales, but at a casual glance (comparing the amount of people I have seen in Milwaukee locations relative to San Francisco Locations) it does not appear to be noticeably greater. Not to mention the cost of space (building and lot) is substantially greater in SF than it is in Milwaukee. Meaning the business model is capable of sustaining wages of 13$ an hour or more, while still maintaining a profit. The only difference is the labor market, where people will work for less money because there is A: fewer jobs, and B: the entry level jobs that exist are paying near that rate, or better opportunities do not exist for unskilled workers.
A resident of a city that has a center for economic planning who is a manager at one of these fast food establishments recognizes what was explained above. He or she contacts the public interest manager and explains that the workers at this location are poorly compensated for their labor and believes the location generates ample profit to increase wages. The resident has the support of his or her co-workers, and a committee interest may form based off the employees of this location and their friends and family.
Immediately there is pressure on the PIM if any need be applied for the CEP to make an offer on the location. Yet since the CEP is a large entity, and these issues are prevalent throughout the fast food industry, the PIM may encourage the committee to network with workers at other locations around the city. In this, instead of the CEP buying one franchise the CEP purchases 10 to 50, perhaps different stores in the same sector (As in instead of purchasing the 5 Mc Donald’s in the city, the CEP purchases 5 Mc Donalds, 5 Carl’s Juniors, 5 Burger Kings Etc.).
In this scenario, there is a near immediate benefit to workers across nearly an entire sub sector of the economy. And what has changed? The same service the public enjoys is available to the public. The workers are still employed at the same establishments, but with greater purchasing power, which has the added benefit of stimulating the local economy as the workers have more money to spend. The difference is, instead of a franchise owner reaping the profit, the center for economic planning which is owned by the people of the city will accrue profits which can be used for investment and anything the people decide to apply those profits to.
Another example along these lines has been spurred by a memory from a meeting I attended a year or more ago. The group worked and encouraged a union to hold out for a better contract, and this may also have been represented on a documentary, with the latter preceding the former if it is the same event. (6) The company closed the plant and the workers lost their jobs.
While probably not as cut and dry as I would like to make it, if there was a CEP the union and the worker could be empowered to achieve a more desirable outcome. In these events or this event, the company packed up and left town, with the workers being left out of a job. With a CEP it is possible that the CEP would have purchased the plant, fired the branch executives, and then contracted with the parent corporation to sell the goods to the corporation. There would have been incentives for nearly all parties involved A: the workers would receive a better contract since the CEP has no incentive to maximize profit by squeezing labor, who is both its owners and constituents. B: The CEP will add to its assets and profit for all the people of the city that it exists in. C: The corporation who sells the plant would save short term cost in relocation, while maintaining the cost of manufacturing. I would need to look more in depth into this event, but the point is to articulate the possibilities and express the vision, which is why I mentioned it.
(6): I seen a documentary where this situation occurred prior to attending this group and the details seemed similar. In the documentary someone involved in the union commented how the socialists were going to cause them to lose their jobs by encouraging a hardline approach, and at the meeting the woman said they tried to help a union negotiate a better contract and the plant packed up and moved. The details were similar and the result was identical which causes me to believe it may have been the same event.
The rising cost of housing is an issue important to millions of Americans in metropolitan areas. The cost of housing is not as simple as supply and demand, as the cost of rent is not driven down simply by building more homes or apartments. San Francisco has over 30,000 vacant housing units, recent high rise condo development, and despite the abundance of housing available, San Francisco has the highest average rent cost of any city in the world, and has the 4th highest rate of homelessness per capita among major US cities.
New construction tends to have the opposite effect on rental costs. It raises the ceiling on the market. For example, if the former latest 1 bedroom apartment in a prime location rents for 4000 per month and this is the top of the market, a new construction in the same area may cost 5000 per month. Now every 1 bedroom in the area has a value relative to this new ceiling. If I own units in the middle of the market, and the newest units are now going for 5,000 per month, I know my units will rent for more. I’m sure economists who study housing markets probably have more thorough data supported explanations for value in housing markets, but the point is, the market determines the cost of housing. A person or a company with rental properties are not going to accept less for rent because their tenants are spending too large a portion of their income on rent and they can still make a profit by charging less.
Whether an ambitious real estate investor interested in social justice, or an executive planner responding to public suggestion, rental property acquisition is an area of investment that would be both lucrative and satisfy a need of the people.
An additional incentive in rental property investment is the maximization of the initial investment. The CEP creates a property investment/ property management company. The company has the option to purchase properties outright or to finance properties. If a large portion of the principal is used to purchase properties outright, the equity can be used to purchase more properties or serve as collateral for loans to purchase additional properties. In real estate lending, the anticipated rent from a prospective property is counted as income when considering the viability of a loan. A CEP owned property investment and management company could own and profit from 10s of times more properties than its investment. Maybe a 20 million dollar investment could shortly blossom into 500 million dollars worth of properties and continue to grow.
To address the cost of housing, there are two ways a CEP company could provide affordable housing. Instead of renting units at market value, the company could determine a rate that will yield an acceptable amount of profit and still offer housing below market value. This may be preferable to the second method in the long term. As the CEP company holdings encompass a significant share of the local market, it will cause private owners to reduce the price of rent.
The second method which would preferable to the first in the short term, would be to rent a portion of units at full market value, and offer other units at below market value based on a percentage of qualifying tenants income. In this profit can be achieved while affordable housing is provided to those who are most in need of relief.
Example Three: Political Investment
In the original outline from the Economic Despotism book, I wrote that a Center for Economic Planning could become the small business man’s big lobby. While this is a scenario based on multiple CEP, the scenario demonstrates how a public committee could form to achieve a political goal, as well as how networking could take place through multiple cities and even states that have a CEP.
On December 1st 2016, new rules for the classification of employees went into effect through the Fair Labor and Standards Act. (7) One change that was particularly harmful to small businesses was the broad distinction between an employee for a company and an independent contractor. The rule basically states if an individual performs work for a company and receives more than half of his income from performing that work he should be considered an employee.
(7): FSLA Rule Changes: What it Means for Contract Workers and Employees, 2/17/2017 by Tiffany Aller, https://www.adp.com/spark/articles/flsa-rule-changes-what-it-means-for-contract-workers-and-employees-9-439
There is a general contractor in a city with a CEP. For years he has made a living contracting with homeowners to execute remodeling projects. In order to maintain a competitive price and worthwhile profit margin, there are various phases that he sub contracts to skilled craftsmen. Naturally, he will become comfortable with the work of the subs, and since they have demonstrated proficiency he will retain their services as often as they are required and available.
The subs are satisfied with the compensation for their services, and schedule with the GC more frequently than they perform work for other contractors. As a result, the subs receive most of their income from the GC, meaning they are dependent on him and should be classified as employees according to the FLSA.
Of course, the subs are not employees of the GC, the same way the GC is not an employee of the home owner. The GC has a job to be completed, for this example we will use framing. The GC needs a frame built to hang sheet rock, and explains the specifications of the finished product. The GC does not supervise the subs, dictate a work schedule, or direct the methods for accomplishing the job. The subs are providing a service, that although integral to the companies finished product on some projects, is not a service performed by the company, but for the company.
The GC is worried about being audited and how he will maintain the future of his business. His issue runs deeper than simply cutting into his profits since the subs may not be interested in working as employees for the company for less than there current agreement, which would become necessary because of all the costs incurred by the company due to payroll obligations. He recognizes there are contractors and subs alike who have the same problem. If they don’t report they are paying for services, that money will appear on their books as income and they will be taxed on money that should be deducted as an expense and not income.
The GC begins with his subs, since his subs are the one’s who the rule change was designed to assist. He explains that he intends to organize the contractors and subs in his area and beyond, to change the rule for independent contractor classification. The subs will likely be interested and will enlist the support of other contractors they perform work for, as well as other sub contractors.
The GC reaches out to other contractors in the area and in other cities that have a CEP. In those cities the contractors and other small business who use independent contractors form their own committees within their cities. They work on a proposal to present to their CEP. The idea is for each CEP to allocate a certain amount of money to lobby to change the law, possibly with a predetermined recipient in mind that has been successful in achieving popular results. Perhaps the Organization for Popular Legislative Endeavors.
The public committees submit their proposal to their CEP through their PIMs, explaining the relationship with the other PCs, which will open the door for collaboration. In this the CEPs can take the lead on developing a strategy for achieving the result, including a lobbying strategy, and how, as well as how much each CEP will contribute. The CEP can contact organizations who express ideals that are congruent to the objective of the CEP for support. These organizations will be able to help contribute to the PR campaign to achieve the change in the classification of an independent contractor.
The rule itself is not created to protect workers, but an attempt for more independent contractors to be classified as employees for the purpose of collecting more taxes from the businesses they contract with. Large firms have no stake in the classification since most are supported by enough volume of business, and profit to hire workers for most tasks, and typically contract outside work with licensed contractors. It is basically an effort to increase the amount of taxes collected on the backs of small businesses.
Some would contest that this can be done without a center for economic planning, simply through the affected parties forming a non-profit to accomplish this goal, but the difference is that regardless of the interest and the ability for parties to organize individually, the empowerment, the ability to wield legislative power will come from the resources that a CEP will possess; the profits from the businesses it owns across nearly every sector of the economy. Furthermore, once the proposal is created, the CEP will work to achieve the result, meaning the GC and all the community members who have a stake in realizing the result, do not have to spend time away from family, friends, and business working to achieve that result.
The CEPs synchronize their efforts by incorporating the funding in their budgets to be released at about the same time. As was alluded to previously, the CEP may contribute to another organization or hire a lobbying firm to achieve the result, and while the details of achieving that result may be multifaceted and require an intricate strategy, the point is to demonstrate that CEP offer citizens of means too modest to carry an interest in DC, an opportunity to have that interest both represented, and attended to.
Along similar lines, a secondary example pertains to the emergence of the marijuana industry. During my time transporting trimmers from the bay area to Humboldt County, (usually as far north as Arcata but also many points in between, like Ukiah, Willits, Garberville, Fortuna, Eureka etc) in conversation, the trimmers would sometimes express concerns of the growers. Among those concerns were federal raids, but another concern I considered is the potential for big business to eventually push the small growers out of business should federal legalization occur.
Regarding federal raids the growers could use their CEP, as well as enlist the support of dispensaries which share a common interest in preventing federal raids since their establishments are also subject to this imposition, to modify the Controlled Substances Act to exempt enforcement on states that have decriminalized marijuana or allow it’s use for medicinal or recreational purposes. If this was accomplished the strategy to protect the small grower would be to prevent federal legalization, to prevent big business from creating a heavily regulated environment which big business could handle but the small grower cannot, as well as the small grower being forced out due to the inflation of supply and investment from large businesses driving up the cost of growing. In this the grower and the dispenser are protected from federal law as well as from big business. Yet if the grower were to fail in the first endeavor to be exempted from federal law, then the goal would be federal legalization and using the CEP as a medium to ward off excessive regulation.
The broader political ambition of the CEP is to finance the promotion and campaign of candidates not affiliated with either of the two parties who are beholden to the interests of wealth and industry. Truly popular, principled, and service oriented candidates would have a serious chance of being elected to serve on all levels of government. This is not possible on the federal level, and is rare or non-existent on the state and municipal level as well. Again, evident by a survey of elected officials party affiliation past and present. The tea party may be looked to as the exception, but the tea party was merely industry capitalizing on a wave of public discontent and the popularity of Ron Paul, and inserting its interests into something that appeared to be grass roots.
Personnel and Responsibilities
The following are classified as general functions
Fielding Public Input
Executing Creation and Acquisition
The General Functions are categories of responsibility, which will be executed by the Executive Planner and Public Interest Managers, which may retain assistance as needed.
Some Public Interest Managers are elected according to function, but may participate in functions outside of their elected function. The following are elected functions that are assigned according to the electoral process:
Public Interest Manager Chief of Public Input (CPI)
Public Interest Manager Chief of Execution (CE)
Public Interest Manager Chief of Management (CM)
Executive Planner (EP)
Public Interest Manager Executive 2nd
Public Interest Manager Chief of Accounting (CA)
Public Interest Manager General Capacity (MGC)
The CPI will be responsible for creating and managing processes of satisfying public inquiry, vetting public input, forwarding public input for incorporation into the budget, and maintaining the outflow of information to the public, including marketing the CEP brand.
Fielding Public Inquiry
The primary means of satisfying public inquiry will take place through phone calls, the website, and email. The website will include news concerning the Center for Economic Planning, which could consist of purchasing proposal ideas and their progress, acquisitions, lobbying considerations, and instructions explaining how the public can become active in directing their CEP, inclusive of how to properly submit a proposal, learning about popular public concerns, as well as submitting a general concern or suggestion.
1: The amount of traffic will determine how the task of answering the phone and greeting visitors should take place. In the beginning there may be a low volume of traffic in terms of incoming calls as well as visitors to the headquarters. Instead of assigning personnel to actively completing these tasks, an automated system could be used to direct calls and receive messages. In this, the task of answering the phone would consist of checking messages and returning calls periodically. Visitors will be admitted by appointment only, meaning the person or people who they are scheduled to meet can receive the visitor/visitors.
The person who is tasked with checking messages and returning calls will be responsible for satisfying all phoned in inquiries. All messages and calls will be logged on a Phone Message Receipt Form, and the form will be turned over to the public data analyst.
2: Website maintenance duties will consist of two main elements, serving as a source of information for the public on processes and procedures, as well as a source of information concerning controversies and development within the CEP. The first element requires an understanding of what the public wants to know, and fine-tuning content to ensure it is easily digestible. Frequently asked questions and other public data should be analyzed to determine what the public wants to know. The second element requires a journalistic approach, where the fundamental essence of the content is what does the public need to know that they don’t know they want to know, and what benefit will be derived? Details of investment items, business creation and acquisition progress, accomplishments of CEP owned businesses, strategy, and even disagreements concerning ideas between PIMs. Website maintenance will not be limited to the content and functions described above, but this content and these details are relevant to public inquiry.
Many people may not be able to express an idea or even have a solution to their problem or concern, but what they do have is general needs resulting from general deficiencies. General concerns and suggestions affords the public the opportunity to direct the attention of their CEP without having to contribute the details. A large portion of general concerns may consist of people who report having too large of a percentage of their income being spent on housing, or the rent is too high. Trending concerns will be incorporated into business creation and acquisition planning.
3: Concerns and suggestions usually should not require a response. Concerns and suggestions will require general classification, as concerns and suggestions are a good indicator of public desire. In this, if 50% of general concerns are about the need for more jobs, investment centered on job creation would become priority.
Review of Public Proposals
Public proposals will be submitted via email to an address exclusive to proposal submission. PIMs will enter the proposal submission email, select an email, and forward it to their email. After forwarding, they will move the email containing the proposal to a folder within the email that designates the proposal as having been reviewed or in the review process.
The process of a public proposal becoming a budget item begins with one PIM. The PIM, upon initial review should read the executive summary, and skim the remainder of the proposal as dictated by interest in the executive summary. If the PIM finds through the executive summary that the idea does not possess sufficient merit to become a budget item, the PIM will write a response to the submitter explaining the reason for its rejection and provide details concerning the deficiencies. In some cases, I imagine there will be situations where a PIM will work with a person who submits a proposal where the idea is good but the person is without the ability to properly express it.
If the PIM finds sufficient merit in the executive summary, the PIM will read the proposal in its entirety to confirm or expel their initial enthusiasm. Obviously, the PIM may stop reading anytime they feel the idea loses potential, and reject the proposal. By now, the explanation should include advice on how the proposal could be improved for future consideration.
If the proposal maintains merit after being read in its entirety, the PIM will shop the executive summary to other PIMs for approval. The sponsoring PIM will attach notes to the proposal explaining why they feel the idea could be successful, and what public interests the investment serves. Notes should also include how much work the proposal requires to become turnkey, and whether there is work to be completed by the submitting party.
Shop ES status refers to the process whereby the sponsoring PIM asks other PIMs to review his or her notes and read the executive summary of the proposal. The sponsoring PIM must gain the support of three additional PIMs through the executive summary. If the PIMs do not approve the proposal, they will provide an explanation for the rejection. If a PIM approves the proposal based on the executive summary, the PIM will attach notes expressing their opinion of the executive summary. These notes may be helpful in highlighting merits and deficiencies for other potentially supporting PIMs.
The reason for the stage three review consisting of only the executive summary, is to avoid wasting time before there is adequate support for the proposal. There is no reason for a 1st supporting PIM to read the entire proposal before there is a second and third who have expressed interest, as there is no guarantee a second or third supporting PIM will exist.
Once a proposal has the approval of the sponsoring PIM and three supporting PIMs, the supporting PIMs will review the proposal in its entirety, and approve or reject the proposal with explanation. If the proposal fails to garner a consensus of approval, the sponsoring PIM may solicit other PIMs to review and reach the requisite number of 3 supporting PIMs at the full review level for the proposal to proceed. If the proposal fails to establish three supporting PIMs the proposal can go no further.
With three supporting PIMs, the proposal is elevated to a project. The sponsoring PIM will schedule a project meeting with the supporting PIMs. The PIMs will identify and assume responsibilities to ready the project for budgetary consideration. What needs to be done and who is going to do it? Subsequent meetings will consist of measuring progress until the project meets the guidelines of budgetary proposal.
The project becomes a budgetary proposal and is given to the EP who will incorporate the project into the upcoming investment strategy. The budgetary proposal will be voted on by the public interest manager and approved by the executive planner.
Once approved, the budgetary proposal will receive funding and be executed by the Chief of Execution.
This portion is intended to itemize specific tasks to fulfill responsibilities necessary for the efficient operation of the CEP. Unfortunately, marketing is not among those responsibilities where tasks can be itemized, both due to my insufficient understanding of the art and science, as well as the nature of marketing being reactive to circumstances concerning the subject of the effort.
It is possible there will be no need for marketing for the center itself. The needs for CEP marketing is the pursuit of public awareness and participation, as well as promotion of CEP owned businesses. CEP owned businesses benefit from the public preference, which states the public will prefer to buy from themselves when comparable products and services at comparable prices are available. There is a benefit to the entire city derived from the profits of CEP owned businesses and the public needs to understand this to ensure the prosperity of CEP owned businesses.
CEP marketing will be conducted according to need. The need is determined by awareness of and public participation in the CEP. Marketing for owned businesses is separate from the marketing of the CEP itself, and falls outside the responsibility of the Chief of Public Input, under the responsibility of the Chief of Management. Both forms of marketing can be contracted, identifying the goals of the campaign and relying on a professional firm to achieve those goals.
Public Interest Manager Chief of Execution (CE)
The Chief of Execution will be responsible for executing an approved business creation or acquisition.
The approval of a plan will be succeeded by the creation of a bank account.
This account will begin as the creation account and will become the account of the business once the acquisition or creation of the business is complete.
The following consists of general duties as specific details will vary according to the business plan. There are two types of executions: acquisition and creation.
The two types of acquisition are specific and general. A specific acquisition is a plan that calls for the acquisition of a specific business, typically with a willing seller in mind. A general acquisition is a plan to purchase a type of business, where the CE will have to find a seller or sellers. The CE will complete the purchase and provide all the information and paperwork to the Chief of Management.
In the creation process, after establishing the company paper, the first order of business will be location, possibly construction. However, the CE may choose to hire the business manager prior to securing a location as the manager can assist in the execution of the plan. In some situations, the creator of the proposal, being a member of the public, may be chosen, and in fact it may be included in the business plan itself, that the creator will be the manager. This scenario presents an additional advantage for the CE as the manager will have a deeper understanding of the business plan as the originator of the vision for the company.
If there is no manager designation in the plan, the CE should hire the manager either prior to securing a location or immediately thereafter. This will provide the manager with a deeper knowledge of equipment and the location which may be an asset in managing day to day operations.
The location will be brought to the desired specifications in terms of the interior floor plan and exterior appearance if required. Equipment purchases will be made as specified in the plan. Vendors for raw materials, services, and products will be established and materials procured for the execution of operations. During this period, staff may be hired as the projected opening date draws near. Hiring as well as other aspects of preparing the location may be delegated to the manager depending on the CE’s confidence in his or her abilities to complete the tasks on time and within the budget.
Created businesses may require the initiation of a marketing campaign prior to the opening of the business depending on the nature of the business. Depending on the scale of the marketing required, this campaign may be directed by the CE or outsourced to a marketing firm. Marketing for acquisitions can be deferred to the Chief of Management since the business already has an existing presence.
Public Interest Manager Chief of Management
The Chief of Management will oversee the businesses owned by the CEP. His duties will consist of establishing procedures with the manager of each business, assuring accuracy in the inflow and outflow of funds from the business’s account, marketing for each business as needed, worker bonuses, and assuring profitability as well as determining when a business ceases to be viable, or requires adjustments to its model to maintain, establish, or reestablish profitability.
A manager at the business will oversee day to day operations, including making reoccurring purchases necessary for operations as well as depositing sales revenue into the business’s account. The CM will regularly audit the business to ensure material usage is consistent with sales, and deposits accurately reflect sales, as well as the outflow of funds for material purchases, payroll, and other expenses.
Bonuses and the absorption of profit by the CEP will occur quarterly. At the end of the quarter the CM will determine how much money must remain in the business’s account for day to day operations and contingencies. The remainder will be divided between the CEP, the general management account, and the employees of the business. The employees will receive bonus compensation from these profits which should be dispersed based on seniority, with a higher portion going to the head manager, and a portion that the manager can allocate to an employee or employees whose work merits additional compensation.
The general management account will be maintained by a portion of the profits from all the businesses. The purpose of the account is to service accounts of businesses that are new and haven’t achieved profitability, or businesses that need to meet expenses while awaiting anticipated funds, as well as business marketing.
The CM will examine businesses that fail to achieve profitability and determine if there are alterations that can be made to the model for the business to become successful. Generally, finding ways to cut costs, increase efficiency, increase the volume of sales through promotions and marketing, etc. If the business is unlikely to achieve profitability whether or not changes have been attempted, the CM can decide to close the business and liquidate the assets, with the proceeds being transferred into the CEP general account. Or the CM may sell the business to a private party.
The Executive Planner is responsible for creating and modifying proposed investment budgets, coordinating the execution of finalized investment budgets, and managing the day to day operations of the CEP.
The EP will work with the PIM Chief of Accounting to determine the funds available for the investment budget. Available funds for investment will be determined based on an estimate of the cost of operations for the CEP itself, plus contingencies, in the neighborhood of 10 to 15% of the operations budget.
The EP will study the market and needs of the area within the CEP’s jurisdiction and plan for the acquisition and creation of businesses that is lucrative and serves the needs and desires of the public. The EP will consider input from the public through the PIMs when drafting and modifying investment budget proposals.
The EP will determine the priority of budget items for finalized budgets, deciding the order of execution for business creation and acquisition. The EP will create a bank account for each business that is readied for execution and transfer the allocated funds from the general account to the business’s account. Account information and the business plan will be provided to the PIM CE who will create or acquire the business.
The EP will host meetings with all the PIMs, daily, weekly, or as needed to address the needs and progress of the CEP. Each PIM will brief the group on the progress and needs in their area of responsibility. The EP may assign PIMs General Capacity to Chiefs, as well as approve the hiring of additional staff as necessary.
The EP will assign tasks to the PIM Executive 2nd and grant him or her authorities as is necessary to maintain or increase efficiency within the CEP.
Public Interest Manager Executive 2nd
The Executive 2nd will receive responsibilities and be assigned tasks by the EP.
Public Interest Manager Chief of Accounting
The Chief of Accounting will monitor the inflow and outflow of all monies paid and received by the CEP, both internally and between owned businesses.
The CA will forecast quarterly expenditures to determine the limits of the quarterly investment budget.
The CA will decide the method of recording financial data, including the method of transfer or collection (how and at what intervals data will be collected or provided to the CA). The CA will work with the CM to create a system of accounting for and with owned businesses that facilitates ease of incorporation into the CA’s general system of accounting.
Advice and alerts will be supplied by the CA concerning financial matters.
Filing of taxes for the CEP and it’s owned business is the responsibility of the CA, but may be outsourced based on need and with the approval of the EP.
Public Interest Manager General Capacity
The MGC will assist the chiefs as needed. Some MGCs may be assigned to departments at length as need dictates. The MGC’s may become the most valuable managers within in CEP as they gain exposure and experience in every department and an understanding of every facet of the CEP. MGCs may also become the head of roles not anticipated in this overview.
Determining CEP Viability
The viability of a CEP is determined by the ability of the jurisdiction to adequately fund the CEP. An increase in the sales tax is the proposed mechanism for funding.
In 2016 Denver collected 613 million dollars on 3.65% sales tax. 613 million divided by 3.65 equals about 168 million. Meaning each percentage point of sales tax in Denver equals 168 million dollars in revenue. In this, a percentage point for a CEP could fund a Denver Center for Economic Planning to the tune of 168 million dollars per year. The tax will be scheduled for 5 years with the option to renew, meaning the total funding for a Denver CEP is about 850 million dollars.
Denver was where I was during the revision of this outline which is why I used Denver as an example. Denver is a base that can be used to consider viability of other cities. Denver collects 168 million dollars per 1% of sales tax. Denver’s GDP was 197 billion dollars in 2016 which is the year the tax revenue data comes from. Meaning a percentage point of sales tax should reflect an amount that is .085% of GDP.
The city of Los Angeles’ GDP in 2015 is 860 billion dollars. The city collected 370 million dollars on .25% sales tax. A full percentage point would equal roughly 1.5 billion dollars. In Los Angeles a percentage point of sales tax represents .17% of GDP which is almost double that of Denver.
Initially I modeled off of Denver using population as the gauge of anticipated revenue from a 1 percent sales tax. Meaning if Denver has 600,000 people, other cities should generate comparable revenue on a 1% sales tax. I immediately recognize the deficiency of the correlation as sales tax is a reflection of the total value of sales which obviously depends on more factors than population density. I presumed there would be a GDP correlation to sales tax collected. As we can tell by the two examples there is no correlation between sales tax and GDP. Hoping to find the correlation was for ease of determining viability, to be able to look at a city, county, or group of cities or counties by GDP and knowing how much funding could be generated based on those numbers.
Different areas will require different funding mechanism. A CEP will require a minimum of 100 million dollars per year for investment. This is the bare minimum for the CEP to grow into a major industrial player. It is possible a CEP with less funding could be impactful in a smaller economy but may not be able to accomplish all the goals a CEP sets out to accomlplish.
Funding is not limited to a sales tax percentage. Clearly in a city like Denver or Los Angeles a sales tax percentage would work, but other places will likely require other mechanisms. The first mechanism I considered was also a sales tax but not a percentage of the sale. It was a flat rate per item of a penny to a nickel. To estimate the amount of funding the tax would generate a survey is required where people record how many items they purchase per day. This is could be an alternative funding mechanism.
Other taxes to be considered would be property tax and I haven’t begun to gauge the feasability of a property tax to fund a CEP.
The methods to fund the CEP are limited by the means of cities and counties to raise revenue. The municipal level is chosen two reasons: 1st because it empowers the population by giving them direct control, whereas the further removed the institution is from people or the greater the coverage the more centralized power is and the less control people exercise over it. If a CEP is created at the state level it will be much more difficult for people to exercise power over the decision making. 2nd, a CEP seems doable at the city or county level. It becomes increasingly unlikely at the state level, and accomplishing CEP legislation at the federal level is likely impossible.
Once legislation is passed, the tax will need to be in effect for a year before the center can be established. Funds must be available for elections, operations, as well as investment. The city council will hire an election coordinator to oversee the election process.
The election coordinator may hire a small staff of 1 to 2 people to assist with the process. The election coordinator will process all forms for candidate registration and make the details of candidate registration available to the public. He will contract with individuals or a company to develop election software, the likes of which will become the property of the CEP once established. In this the CEP can license the software to entities responsible for the initial elections for other centers for economic planning in other cities, as well as use the software for future elections.
To avoid any potential advantage of an incumbent choosing future election coordinators, election coordinators for future elections will be chosen through referendum paid for by the CEP.
In recognizing how money directs politics, I anticipate a great criticism of Centers for Economic Planning would be the election process. How do we not find ourselves in a situation where the only Executive Planners and Public Interest Managers to vote for are funded and controlled by big money? We implement rules that promote transparency in the election process.
• A candidate for the office of Executive Planner or Public Interest Manager must disclose all commercial relationships and all relationships with entities who represent a commercial interest.
• All commercial campaign contributions must be accompanied by a specific explanation concerning why the contribution was made. Specific meaning the idea or benefit the entity hopes to accomplish through the election of a candidate. It is not prohibited to accept money from a commercial interest that may benefit in the form of business from the execution of an idea, but the details of any arrangements must be made public during the campaign. For example, if a candidate who is running for the office of executive planner, has an idea to build something in his platform, he may collect bids in an effort to provide the public with a more comprehensive plan. It is quite possible that these entities would want to support the candidate since if he or she is elected they would benefit from the business associated with his idea. In this, as was mentioned in the previous bullet, the EP would have to publicly disclose the nature of those interactions, and should the businesses or employees of the businesses contribute to the campaign of the EP, they would have explain it is in the interest of realizing the EPs idea which would provide them business.
• No single contribution may exceed $250.
• If a candidate contributes to his or her own campaign, the candidate will be required to release his or her transaction history for 6 months prior to the campaign and 6 months after if elected. (The purpose is to prevent a candidate from receiving money from a third party and funneling it into his campaign by financing his or her own campaign)
• No candidate may accept contributions from any 501 c4 non-profit since the origins of the money are unknown and the public cannot determine whether or not interests who have contributed to the non-profit stand to benefit from the implementation of strategies by the candidate through the Center for Economic Planning.
• No candidate may support policy that provides a benefit to a company the candidate has provided services to within 2 years of the election.
• No candidate may provide services to a company that has contracted with the Center for Economic Planning during the candidate’s service to the CEP. This provision is intended to prevent companies from offering incentives to candidates once their service to the CEP expires in exchange for positions in the company at a future date.
The bullets above represent only preliminary rules, intended to create transparency and to prevent commercial interests from exercising undue influence over the Center for Economic Planning, but there will likely be additions as necessary to protect democratic process and popular interest.
To minimize the cost of elections a secure online voting software will be developed to allow people to vote online. The software will include safeguards to prevent fraud or multiple votes such as requiring a proof of residency document and ID or driver’s license number. The software will verify the number is valid and prevent multiple votes being cast by the same person.
To avoid alienating the homeless, proof of shelter residency or a document from human services proving an individual receives benefits from the county will suffice as proof of residency. Review of all proof of residency documents could prove to be labor intensive and consequently costly, therefore review of documents will be conducted when a conflict arises. The software will be programmed to flag and separate conflicts such as duplicate ID numbers without counting the ballot. An election staff member will review these conflicts, resolve them, and manually submit the ballot.
The voting period will last for two weeks, which is ample time for those interested in participating to cast a ballot. Once the voting period concludes, the election coordinator and staff if applicable will resolve all conflicts within the system and tally the votes. The election coordinator may take up to two weeks to release the results if time is required to resolve conflicts and ensure the results are accurate. If a candidate’s margin of victory is greater than what could be overcome through conflict resolution, the election coordinator may choose to forgo the process of conflict resolution if he or she feels the process will be unnecessarily lengthy and thus costly. A press release will be created to announce the results, and the results will also be made available on the website. The election coordinator will notify the winning and losing candidates directly, through a phone call and any other means of communication he or she deems fit.
The amount of funds to be released to the election coordinator in salary and election expenses will vary depending on the city, the size, and the overall expectations of funding. To avoid inflated cost, or to avoid an election coordinator spending an excessive amount of money on the election process, there will be an incentive in the election coordinators contract to minimize the cost. First the election will be contracted for a flat rate, meaning there is no incentive for the election coordinator to draw out the length of the election process since he or she is paid the same to finish it in two months as he is to finish it in six months. Second the election coordinator should be motivated by a bonus if the overall cost is below certain amounts.
The mayor will transfer $450,000 to an account accessible by the election coordinator to fund the election of an executive planner and 12 public interest managers.
The election coordinator will be contracted to complete the election at a rate of $25,000. The EC will be incentivized to maintain a low budget by a 10% bonus for all unused funds. For example, if the EC can complete the election for $250,000, the EC would receive a $20,000 bonus for saving the people’s CEP $200,000.
The election coordinator will lease a small headquarters to conduct election operations from. The location should be accessible by bus to ensure public access, and should not exceed 1500 square feet as operations, including equipment, materials, personnel, and patrons, should be able to occupy a space that size quite comfortably. If possible, the election coordinator should lease a property for six months which should be adequate time to execute the election.
The home page of the website will contain a general summary of the Center for Economic Planning as well as information concerning the election.
There will a be a page with election information, including when and how the public can vote.
There will be a page with candidate profiles, where candidates can create a page something akin to a social media profile, including external links, biographical information, career history and related experience, as well as disclosures and why they want the job, including ideas plans and strategies.
The website will include a page containing information related to candidate registration, and downloadable forms. In addition to downloadable content for live registration, the page will have a feature to accept registration material online; interactive forms that can be submitted online and required additional documentation which can be scanned and attached.
When voting opens, residents of the city will be able to vote through the website. Verification of eligibility can be attached in the ballot submission. Depending on the security risk which is a determination to be made by an expert, the ballot processing software will either be incorporated into the website, or the website will serve as a medium to transfer the information to a server where it will be processed by software on a secure local network.
The website will likely feature additional pages, contact, possibly a forum which can be used by candidates and non-candidates alike, and maybe an event page where candidates can advertise campaign related events.
Candidate Nomination and Registration
To be eligible for candidacy, an individual must be nominated by no fewer than 500 residents. The candidate will provide proof of nomination by collecting the name, address, telephone number, and the signature of the nominator.
The candidate will complete the basic information form as well as provide disclosure information as required by the election rules.
Candidates may submit registration online through the website or in person.
The EC or hired staff will review candidate registration information. When registration is complete the candidate will receive login information for the website allowing him or her to access candidate administration features like profile page creation, event posting, and forums.
The EC will need to devise a marketing strategy to create public awareness concerning the election. An obvious medium would be the press, but he or she may also retain services for brochure distribution and canvasing, radio and podcast shows, or any other means of attracting attention to the election.
The voting software or program will process the voter information and count the ballots.
Beyond processing votes for candidates, the software will first need to check information entered by a voter with information entered by all other voters. The software will ensure there are not duplicate names, duplicate phone numbers, addresses, and driver’s license or ID numbers. If the software finds a duplicate, the electronic ballot will be separated from the counted ballots, and an administrative user, either the election coordinator or staff, will manually access the ballot to resolve the issue. In addition to isolating the ballot that creates the conflict, the software must also link the conflicting ballot with the counted ballot to allow the administrator to compare information, to determine which ballot is legitimate or if both or neither ballots are legitimate. The purpose of the measure is to prevent a single person from voting multiple times and compromising the democratic integrity of the election.
Counting and Confirming the Ballots
The software will count the ballots, and a sample of 1000 ballots will be selected at random per 50,000 ballots and be checked for quality assurance. The staff member will verify the information including supporting documents are in order and the software counted the selections as indicated on the ballot.
Dissolving the Election Apparatus
Upon completing the election, the EC will itemize all property purchased or leased for the election and transfer the paperwork along with the property to the executive planner, who will transfer the property to the CEP.
The mechanisms for governance of the CEP causes the effective ownership to be collective. It is as if it is owned by everyone but not owned at all. It is a machine to create opportunity, individual wealth and prosperity, and consequently, power. Still, on paper, legally, it must be owned and I have considered this detail thoroughly and at length.
As explained earlier, the CEP cannot be a wing of a municipal government because it will prevent it from being used to exercise influence in politics. It can however, be owned by the city but still maintain autonomy. This seems like the simplest solution in regard to ownership. A company created that is owned by the city which represents ownership of the people within the city, but chartered with a clause that prevents the city itself from participating in decision making.
In addition to reconciling the issue of collective ownership of what is a private but publicly operated entity, it should also relieve any legal hindrance of implementing a tax to fund a private entity. Although federally, using tax dollars to fund a private entity is not without precedent. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are two examples of private companies created and funded by government.
I have been accused in conversation of trying to create a government within a government. The obvious difference is municipal governments are tasked with creating rules which should be intended to increase the liberty of the citizens. From my perspective, this is the purpose of government. We agree to rules because we are freer with the rules than we would be without them. Government is a system of delegation for the creation and enforcement of rules that allow individuals to be freer. In this country, in practice, it began as and remains a facilitator of maintaining and enhancing the advantage of one group over the rest.
A CEP is a public tool to facilitate a people with limited means to participate in decisions of production and opportunity in a system where they are currently disenfranchised from such decisions. A CEP will also allow people to participate in government, as a system of government exists where the representation of interest depends on the money for the interest verses the money against the interest.
As I previously stated, A Center for Economic Planning is not a co-op. A Center for Economic Planning is not the creation of a government within a government. A Center for Economic Planning is a new institution, that will bring the rhetoric of American ideals of liberty, republicanism, democracy, and justice to life.
The author is seeking assistance in creating a portion of content intended for a revised version of this publication. I would like to find either students, or someone with academic credentials to create a scenario for a CEP.
Basically, a situation where the processes of a CEP are used to create an investment strategy using a city and historical data from private equivalents of proposed CEP owned businesses.
For example, if the group decided they would create a general retail store as part of their investment strategy, the group would look at the cost of constructing a Walmart, and follow a store from year 1 to year 10 in terms of sales and profit.
While not completely apples to apples, primarily because of the cost of items almost certainly being higher for a CEP owned retailer than Walmart, the additional cost or the narrowing of the profit margin may be offset by volume. A CEP owned business has an inherent advantage over its privately-owned counterpart because of the incentive for a consumer to purchase from his or herself. Not to mention a higher level of customer service as the employees of CEP owned businesses have a personal stake through bonuses based on the businesses quarterly profit. Along the same line, employee based pride and promotion will be an asset to persuading preference for CEP owned businesses.
In addition to forecasting the anticipated income and worth of a CEP over a 10-year period, the group will consider employee compensation based on employee quarterly bonuses.
The project will consist of the following:
- Choosing a city and estimating the amount of funds available for a Center for Economic Planning based on a 1% sales tax.
- Estimating administrative costs and determining the amount available for investment.
- Creating an investment strategy scenario using privately owned businesses to determine the profit gained by each business in the CEP investment scenario.
- Using profit data from each business and the mechanism of quarterly employee profit sharing to measure the impact on employee wages.
- Creating annual investment strategies based on the profits accrued from CEP businesses coupled with the annual sales tax revenue injection and repeating the process to create a 10-year model.
- Using the 10-year model to determine: the annual profit of a CEP after 10 years, the net worth of the CEP after 10 years, employee wages of CEP owned businesses compared to wages of the privately-owned equivalent, and where the CEP would rank in terms of worth and profit compared to fortune 500 companies after 10 years.
The purpose is to determine if the Center for Economic Planning has the potential to achieve what the idea has been created to accomplish. I’m not looking for 1 study, but perhaps 10 from different schools or groups across the country using different cities as models. Armed with these studies should the conclusions prove to be favorable, I can begin the campaign for public education and promotion of the first CEP in a city.
The second reason for this rough release, is the author needs to produce something to provoke the questions required to elucidate processes, and to create a more thorough outline.
The idea itself could benefit from a fictional story created around it. A novel or a movie centered on the creation and evolution of a CEP told as a story could reach the population in a way that dry prose and lecture cannot.
Finally, in the interest of promotion and gaining sponsorship, this edition will suffice despite its short comings.
Feasibility in Respect to Scale
As I mentioned in example city, a CEP existing in a jurisdiction with a population of 500,000 people would generate roughly 170 million dollars using a 1% sales tax to fund it. The major anticipated criticism is 5 years of annual investment of 170 million dollars, supplemented of course by the profit achieved through investments is not a lot of money. To reiterate the tax does not have to be a 1% sales tax, it could just as easily be 2 to 3 points without a major impact on consumers.
The funding mechanism does not have to be exclusively a sales tax and in some cases there is already room within some city budgets to allocate funds from existing streams of revenue to create a Center for Economic Planning. Returning to the example of Denver, Denver is spending 233 million dollars to upgrade the roof of its convention center. Of course Colorado has benefited from over 6 billion dollars in additional revenue from marijuana sales, but the point is, funds can be found or generated to increase the scale of the Center for Economic Planning.
What’s more important than the expenditure is the nature of the expenditure. Tax dollars are generally spent to pay for something that is non-remunerating. The creation of a Center for Economic Planning is not money spent to pay for something, but money invested, and this investment directly increases the quality of life of people, and empowers the population in a way in which no people has ever been empowered before.
Ideally, Centers for Economic Planning would be implemented at that federal level, where 50 centers could be funded to the tune of 5 billion dollars each, assigned areas according to population, and the effects would be greater and more immediate. I’m no so ignorant or naïve as to believe it could be passed at the federal level, so a federal imitative is not my focus. It would also pose additional challenges in readying 50 competent teams to be elected to manage the Centers, the outcome could be very mixed.
The possibility increases at the state level, but still very improbable. The city or county level is place where grass roots voter mobilization can still be effective at electing candidates. It is a small governing body where the amount of funds required to influence public opinion and elect candidates is reachable through grass roots enthusiasm. The goal has to be to create one Center for Economic Planning, ensure its success, and other cities, counties, or networks of cities will follow the good example we create. In the demonstration of this good example, the Centers for Economic Planning that will follow, will be created on a greater scale.
Funding of a few hundred million per year for the first CEP if that is as much we are able to get will be sufficient to begin, and the succeeding CEPs will no doubt increase in scale as the profits from the businesses owned by the first CEP will lead grow it into the scale required to have an ever increasing impact on the power and prosperity of the people where it is created.