Posts for Tag: government

Participatory Budgeting

About 100 people bumped and jostled their way to the snack table lined with bowls of popcorn and pretzels. Eager presenters button-holed passers-by. It looked like a middle-school science fair. But the buzz in the room wasn’t over homemade solar system models or photosynthesis; it was the sound of revolutionary civics in action.

Facing that article about poetry is a fascinating story of participatory budgeting in New York City. The scope is small for a place like New York City—$1 Million in each of four city council districts—and participation wasn't huge—"over the past six months, 250 regular New Yorkers jumped into the trenches and dirtied their hands with democracy"—but this seems like a great start. The model for this trial was developed in Brazil.

And now the downside...

But the rest of America will most likely be left out of all this. Millions are still offline completely, while others can afford only connections over their phone lines or via wireless smartphones. They can thus expect even lower-quality health services, career opportunities, education and entertainment options than they already receive.

The Times had a heartbreaking article on the digital divide in Sunday's edition and had some eye-opening facts on how the move to technology-based services would affect those without access to technology. I was really taken by assertions about regulatory policy in he United States:

The answer to this puzzle is regulatory policy. Over the last 10 years, we have deregulated high-speed Internet access in the hope that competition among providers would protect consumers. The result? We now have neither a functioning competitive market for high-speed wired Internet access nor government oversight.

By contrast, governments that have intervened in high-speed Internet markets have seen higher numbers of people adopting the technology, doing so earlier and at lower subscription charges.

I'd really like to see a response from the business and anti-regulation (and anti health care reform) proponents. Maybe there will be a selection of responses next Sunday.