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Sender: Rickrad
Subject: Re: An Ideological Turing Test featuring arguments against Raddatz's "Cap and Priori
Date: Sun, May 18, 2014
Msg: 100995

Michael B asks two very important questions: 1) How would the caps be decided in cap-and-prioritize 2) Is cap-and-prioritize compatible with participatory budgeting.

Question #2 is easier... the answer is *absolutely!*. Participatory budgeting could help with both the capping and the prioritizing. e.g. a popular vote to raise taxes is a form of PB. Also, a PB committee could be instrumental in the prioritizing of programs, especially with regard to social-spending, as it is less technical and less secret than, say, military spending. However, has shown that PB can help even with military spending. So cap-and-prioritize is absolutely compatible with PB.

Regarding question #1, the setting of the cap(s), the key is to first divide the budget by purpose and the prioritize within each purpose. This quickly allows the problem to be "divided and conquered" as each sub-budget can have its own cap and its own way of prioritizing.

Military spending, for example, might need to have a balanced budget in peace time and no pre-set cap in war time. And the pentagon will likely do the heavy lifting when it comes to prioritizing, as it does now.

Discretionary spending could continue to be divided among sub-committees and prioritized in committee.

The most important spending to cap-and-prioritize is social spending, (meaning all the government programs designed to help people, especially those who need help most) because social spending is the largest chunk of federal spending, the fastest growing, the most in need of reform (because it could be used so much better) and the hardest to reform (because it is politically deadly to even mention reform)

One proposal is to allow social spending to grow every year (good years and bad) by population plus inflation. This ensures the per-person purchasing power of social spending remains the same over time.

Conservatives and libertarians like this kind of cap because the economy grows faster (on average) and so this cap would constantly shrink the size of government as a percentage of the economy, forcing government to trend towards what libertarian consider ideal freedom.

Progressives, of course, do not normally support such a cap because they want the government's ability to help those in need to constantly improve over time. That's where the prioritizing comes in. Let's imaging the capped budget is divided among the 50 states with one string attached: the state has to prioritize the spending using a percentile-grading system or better.

This would create 50 different experiments for how to best use that constant purchasing power. Over time -- as ideas compete for dollars in a transparent "priority marketplace" -- this would force the effectiveness of social spending to constantly improve, towards what progressives consider to be ideal social justice.

What's happening here is that cap-and-prioritize is economizing our collective resources the same way that capitalism economizes individual resources.

In this way, cap-and-prioritize is the philosophical peer to capitalism.

- Rick Raddatz,

p.s. An earlier post my me incorrectly said I was responding to Michael B when really I mis-read the email as was responding to Michael S's turing test! The New York Times regrets the error.?

On May 18, 2014, at 01:27 PM, Michael Briand wrote:

> Thanks to Lawry for making this important point about human subjectivity, with its implications for individual empowerment and participation. > > I have just asked Rick R. and Michael S. about how the cap on federal spending they propose would be determined: by whom, through what type of process, according to what criteria? I asked whether participatory budgeting could be bent to that purpose. It seems to me that PB honors the values of empowerment and participation. > > Michael Briand > > > > From: Lawrence Chickering > > Sent: Sunday, May 18, 2014 9:52 AM > To: TRANSPARTISAN@LISTS.THATAWAY.ORG > > Subject: Re: [TRANSPARTISAN] An Ideological Turing Test featuring arguments against Raddatz's "Cap and Prioritize" proposal > > Michael (S), > > I regard myself as a 'bleeding heart libertarian', and I have thoughts about > supporting Raddatz's proposal. Here goes: > > The vision of helping the disadvantaged that is currently dominant in our debate > sees the problem as entirely an objective problem, which is 'solved' by resource > transfers. This vision (unfortunately) sees the disadvantaged only as objects, > which is a pitifully limited view of human beings. Worrying only about resource > transfers to objects reduces human relationships to the level of the care > and feeding of farm animals. > > Objective inequality exists in many dimensions, most of them unsolvable > by resource transfers (it exists in all dimensions in terms of which people > differentiate themselves -- besides wealth, intelligence, beauty, appreciation > of art, etc, etc). > > Fifteen seconds' reflection will make it clear that 'progressives' preoccupation > with objective equality is impossible as a policy objective. The real challenge > is the impulse to differentiate because the more equal one term of differentiation > becomes, the more important others become (assuming constant need to > differentiate). > > The really unfortunate thing about our current philosophical idiom is that > objective equality is the gold standard principle of moral discourse. I believe > this is utterly bankrupt as a defining principle of our moral life. The idea, > ultimately, that everyone can be above average in everything is not only > laughably (because logically) impossible; it is also brutally cruel because it > steers masses of people to believe their lives are failures. > > I am here, of course, critiquing the order-left. But many on the right are > also guilty of a brutal (though different) focus on equality. Many on the > right argue that equal opportunity is the touchstone of justice: equal > opportunity to 'get ahead' and achieve 'The American Dream'. Why is this > also brutal? Because if you can only achieve The American Dream by > being a 'winner', it follows that masses of people are cut out of The > Dream; they are 'losers'. > > I believe both visions are unacceptable -- much worse than that, both > visions are vile. > > People as Subjects > > Let me try starting in a different place (in terms of what is important). > Assume for the moment that people are more than farm animals. Assume > that we need to worry about more than people as objects; we also have to > worry about them as subjects. > > A very wise man once told me that the key to joy is creation. I would argue > that the key to opportunities for creation is empowerment, and this -- I > would argue -- should be the great principle underlying our political morality. > Empowerment, I believe, is what connects your references to Mohammed > Yunus, Hernando de Soto, etc., as well as my own program, Educate Girls > Globally. I believe that empowerment is the central value underlying > everything that is working. > > Empowerment is a complicated concept, which includes both individualistic > and collective elements (empowerment needs to liberate people to 'be > themselves', but it also needs to do it understanding that connection -- > to self, others, nature and cosmos -- are also important). > > The central deficiency in our current idiom is its mechanistic, objectified > core. Empowerment depends on understanding that we live in a Connected > World of subjects. Unfortunately, we have no language that bridges the gap > between the formal practices of traditional religion and informal spiritual > practices. The absence of such a language makes it impossible to have a > coherent conversation about this subject. [I would suggest that the search > for such a language might begin by examining carefully the concepts of God > that range from preconscious subjective (in The Garden) to increasingly > conscious and objective (especially in institutionalized Christianity) to > increasingly conscious and secular (Enlightenment and beyond) to > increasingly conscious and (now) increasingly subjective and 'spiritual'.] > > Please forgive this diversion from the subject at hand, which I could not > avoid because I think engaging these issues is essential to get us away from > the desiccated notion of people as objects that now strangles our debate. > I believe that a major priority for the transpartisan movement should be > to bridge this gap between 'religious' and 'spiritual', opening up a much > wider subjective vision of human possibility that animates people and > programs everywhere. > > People from other cultures often critique American culture with thoughts > like: 'Is there anything Americans think they can't buy?' The critique has > important elements of truth in it, and one of them is in the vision of social > justice that is preoccupied with resource transfers. As long as our debate is > dominated by this as a moral principle, we will never address the real > challenge of justice, which has to do with people as subjects. An important > way to redirect our discourse is to cap the money we can spend. For this > reason I support Raddatz's proposal. > > Lawry Chickering > Educate Girls Globally > > > > To unsubscribe from the TRANSPARTISAN list, click the following link: > > ############################

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