Fair-share Spending empowers everyone to help select projects.
HOT! The presentation about Fair-share Spending
from the 2012 Participatory Budgeting Conference!
English: Open Office slide show, Printout (PDF).
Español: Open Office diapositivas, impresora.
中国版 Chinese: Open Office 幻灯片, 打印.
Budget Failures and TragediesAll democracies now recognize the minority citizen's right to vote. And most recognize the minority voter's right to representation. But even with Full Representation, only the majority may allocate funds. The needs of the minority parties are often ignored or underfunded. For many interest groups, winning seats does not lead to power.
Free-rider and poison-pill amendments occur, as in policy decisions. Such scams waste the taxpayers' money, their potential benefits from a public good, and their respect for government in general. The first items on the agenda may use so much money that none is left for later items. So the sequence of decisions is often crucial to an item's chances. Better rules let all items have a fair chance.
These failures lead to thousands of personal tragedies when they weaken public health and safety or cut a child's chances for a good education.
A project's funding may rise or fall abruptly when the majority shifts from one group to another. Administrators cannot manage efficiently on such a budget roller-coaster.
Texas has a colossal example:
The Super-Conducting Super Collider was a hotly debated project in the 1980s. This effort to build the world's largest cyclotron was supported by a majority of Congress for a few years – then terminated. The only things left were some plans and a huge, “billion-dollar hole in the ground”.
Enthusiasts might be more careful about starting projects if they could not spend the opposition's share the budget. And they should have the power finish their projects with their own share the budget.
A Democratic SolutionBetter allocation methods are now available.
The tally is tedious but the work to mark a ballot is easy:
Simply rank or grade the proposed projects:
“These are A plus efficient, those are C plus efficient, and that one is a Z minus waste of money.” That gives the vote counters enough information to tally fair-share rules. (The easiest ballot lets a voter drag items up and down his list.)
Many empty hands Fair Shares
Fair-Share SpendingWe should recognize the right to equal spending power for all members. Fair-share Spending (FS) gives all reps or voters equal power to allocate discretionary funds. It recognizes their right to funds just as Proportional Representation (PR) recognizes the voters' right to representation. Both are forms of Proportional Voting.
There are several systems for FS. The best use Movable Money Votes (MMV) that work very much like Transferable Votes for PR. In 2009, Twin Oaks Community used MMV for their annual “One-Time Resource-Allocations”. Over 36 years they have tested several forms of “Participatory Budgeting”.
Later pages will explain how MMV works. But first, consider the benefits in any system for fair-share spending.
Merits of Fair-Share SpendingFair-share allocation rules let geographic or other groups within a jurisdiction fund their own projects without new layers of taxes and administration. For example, in a city-wide vote, each neighborhood or interest group may fund a few school, park or road improvements. The city's taxes then pay for the projects as the School and Road Departments administer the contracts. Every neighborhood and interest group has its share of spending power; no one is shut out. This makes (hidden) empires less profitable.
When the majority controls all discretionary spending, their last allocation adds little to their happiness. After they spend $900... on their favorite projects, the next $100... funds a low priority. But that same $100... could fund the top priority for a large minority — making the minority much happier.
In economic terms, distributing a small amount of spending power increases the utility value purchased, and it distributes opportunities and incentives as well. In political terms, a more equitable distribution promotes legitimacy, compliance, and co-operation. The organization serves and appeals to more people.
Fair, efficient funding rules can increase respect for co-operative and public funding. That may encourage people to shift some spending from small private items to larger shared goods.
On the other hand, a tax rebate may be one of the items on the ballot. It would let reps vote to reduce taxes and services as easily as voting to fund a project. Voters can clearly see each rep's contribution to this private good and to the public goods.
A majority that becomes a minority can still fund some priorities — so their budgets rise and fall smoothly. Most voters help at least one project to win despite less than majority support, showing the majority are members of political minorities.
A rep may discover interests shared with rivals who contribute to her favorite projects. That may lead to better understanding and further cooperation — made easier by the assurance that fair shares let no one dominate others.
A critic asked “Why would anyone want such a non-government?” One might respond "Is federalism a non-government?" It might seem so to dictators, but most people say federalism gives very effective governance. Like federalism, FS helps sub-groups fund their own projects. The sub-groups under federalism are pre-determined geographic areas; under FS they may be any big group, including ad hoc geographic areas.
Say a state legislature has 100 reps and a FS quota of 20 — meaning a project needs contributions from 20 reps to qualify as a public good. Twenty is a larger number of reps than unanimous support from 2 nine-person city councils. Twenty state reps may represent a larger population and geographic area than 20 city council reps. Thus, like federalism, FS is a tool for responsible and responsive government.
As now, some reps may spend public funds on political pork. But with Proportional Representation and Fair-share Spending, reps can waste only their supporters' share of money; a fact that may discourage pork projects.
A project that breaks policies is subject to majority veto. Vetoes ideally occur before the funding vote. But the first group to try FS puts all proposals on the ballot then debates a veto only if a controversial item wins. This avoids many debates. If opponents win, the ballots are tallied again without the item.
Fair-share spending is unlikely to give minorities too much power. All policies are enacted by majority rules. This means all agencies spend their money supporting majority policies. Finally, most FS funds will be spent by the majority.
Limited as it is, the right to spend some revenue is a major expansion in the concept of democracy, similar to earlier expansions in the right to vote and the right to representation.
In the private sector, fair-share spending helps buyers organize big purchases — so it may increase the market power of buyers relative to producers. But it does not replace market mechanisms for competitive pricing, efficiency, innovation and investment.
The next chapter shows other ways to give reps fair shares of power for setting agency budgets, making each rep responsible for her share of money and thus accountable to voters.
In the development of Fair-share Spending, I was the chain of a necklace. Its gems were discovered by visionary minds who have graced my life.
|Electoral Systems||Legislative Systems|
|Chair||Reps||Council||Policy||Uses for FS
USA Needs FS
PB Needs FS
Yes Yes Yes
Answer: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt saw, in the
Great Depression, the effects of heedless self-interest.
Searching for more? There are only a few fair-share spending rules.
|Allocations||Fair-share allocations||Participatory allocations||Proportional allocations|
|Appropriations||Fair-share appropriations||Participatory appropriations||Proportional appropriations|
|Budgeting||Fair-share budgeting||Participatory budgeting||Proportional budgeting|
|Spending||Fair-share spending||Participatory spending||Proportional spending|
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