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Peace Education Center in Lansing, Michigan, holds community dialogues on Poverty and Wealth in April

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An exciting message from Terry Link in Lansing, Michigan, describes upcoming community events at Michigan State University (on April 4) and Lansing Community College (on April 9) that are organized by the Peace Education Center and co-sponsored by big name community supporters.

Hello John,
Just wanted to let you know that we finally have all the pieces aligned to run the NDN program on Poverty and Wealth here in Lansing, MI. We have two sessions organized – the first at MSU for the larger campus community , nearly 60,000 potential participants, although we’ll be happy with any more than 50. The second to be held at the local community college on downtown Lansing. The local Peace Education Center is the organizing force for both (I am a board member) but as you will see from the flyers we’ve solicited co-sponsorship from different entities for each event.

We hope to have the surveys completed and will find volunteers to submit them online back to NDN. We will also be doing an interview in advance of the events on our public radio station’s public affairs show at a date yet to be determined. I will keep you both posted as we move ahead. I will be travelling March 13-27, so you likely won’t hear anything further back from me until I return. Below is the note I sent out to campus sponsors this morning. For more info see the website www.peaceedcenter.org

All good things,
Terry Link
***

The problem of an ever expanding disparity between the “have’s” and the “have-not’s” has become the issue of the day.

Please join us in a respectful conversation about a problem that affects us all. We will use a process and materials designed by the National Dialogue Network, funded by a grant from the National Coalition on Dialogue and Deliberation. Seated in small groups, we will listen to each other’s perspectives to further our own understanding of the concerns and possibilities surrounding this important issue.
There will be two sessions, one for the Michigan State University (MSU) community and a second one for the larger Lansing community.

MSU Session, APRIL 4, 3–5 PM, MSU Main Library, North Conference Room, 4th Floor West. This event co-sponsored College of Communication Arts and Sciences, College of Social Science, Residential College of Arts and Humanities, Peace and Justice Studies program, Philosophy, and the Peace Education Center of Greater Lansing.

Seating is limited so reserve a seat please send your name and email to: hesslin2@msu.edu. The event flyer can be downloaded here.

Greater Lansing Community Session, APRIL 9, 7-9 PM, Lansing Community College, Administration Building Board Room. This event is hosted by Lansing Community College and sponsored by the Peace Education Center, Michigan League for Public Policy, Capital Area District Library, Power of We Consortium, Justice & Peace Task Force at Edgewood United Church, League of Women Voters – Lansing Area, Red Cedar Friends Meeting, and Common Cause of Michigan. Seating is limited, so to reserve a seat please send your name and email to: pec.comments@gmail.com. The event flyer can be downloaded here.

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Zilino demonstration dialogue on Poverty and Wealth in America

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Zilino begins demonstration dialogue on Poverty and Wealth in America.

Zilino Invite

Zilino is a new web-based solution for hosting deliberative online forums that enables practitioners to design and manage well structured, well facilitated group conversations.

Please join us for our next Zilino demo dialogue on “Poverty and Wealth in America”, March 3-7, 2014. We’ll be following the materials created by the National Dialogue Network. The expected time commitment for the average participant is roughly three hours total (approx. 15-30 minutes per day), less if you’d prefer to join as a passive observer.

Email hello@zilino.com, and we’ll send you an invite.

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The 2013 NDN public analysis phase begins

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Submitted by John Spady: The 2013 National Dialogue Network (NDN) process has now entered “Cycle 4” of a five cycle process where our volunteer working group releases a preliminary graphic report of all responses received as of November 23, 2013 along with the underlying Excel spreadsheet used to create it.

Focusing on Cycle 4

(click to enlarge)

During this phase, the general public is strongly urged to help intrepret the results and submit any and all insights to the working group for review and inclusion in the final summary report that is due before the end of 2013.

I am asking readers of this post to make a small contribution of time to this public analysis phase. Click on both of the following links and just focus on what interests you. Try to understand “what the data is saying.” Then post a comment below with any insights that you are able to glean from the preliminary report.

If you want to see another type of cross tab or have any other questions either ask them below or leave a private comment at 800-369-2342.

Total number of participants who completed the national survey: 105

Preliminary report:
http://is.gd/2013NDNPrelimReport

Final Excel data (XLS) download:
http://is.gd/2013NDN105XLS

View 2013 NDN Participant Responses (105) in a full screen map

Thank you!
John Spady
Volunteer Coordinator for the National Dialogue Network

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Demographics of 2013 NDN Opinionnaire® Survey

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This is an experimental report showing just the current demographic tallies of the 2013 Opinionnaire® Survey’s completed so far. Values are expected to be automatically updated each day. Your comments are invited at the bottom of this post or can be left on the NDN message line at +1-800-369-2342. Thank you!

“We are all in this together” — contribute your opinions and insights to the Opinionnaire® Survey on Poverty & Wealth in America. Visit: http://is.gd/kogasa to begin the survey.

START OF REPORT:

END OF REPORT

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Wealth, Capital Flight, and the Rise of the Information Society: Beyond Borders

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“[B]y the year 2012, projected outlays for entitlements and interest on the national debt will consume all tax revenues collected by the federal government… There will not be one cent left over for education, children’s programs, highways, national defense, or any other discretionary program.”
— Bipartisan U.S. Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform (1994)


The Sequester – What Is It” – U.S. White House (2013)

While governments struggle to develop budgets that they imagine will serve the interests of most of their constituents, the rest of the world races ahead, with unrelenting and quickening progress, developing new tools to transform society.

The U.S. government, like other governments, seeks out and punishes those who publish information it does not like, and engages in attempts to regulate the internet. Yet despite such efforts, technological progress ultimately surpasses the capacity of government to regulate it. We live in a world in which kindergartners are learning to develop computer applications before they can read and where children are capable of printing objects using their minds.

Considering the technological developments in society, issues related to capital flight are important, but traditional methods of movement of capital will become less relevant as technology enhancements and the development of the information society result in information itself being adopted as new currency.  This was alluded to in July of 2001 by D K Matai of mi2g at a Lloyd’s of London keynote speech and more recently has been discussed in numerous articles (examples: CNN, 2009; Estreitinho, 2013) discussing the concept of information as currency and the notion of the relationship as the ultimate technology (Gallagher, 2009).

(( Additional information: (1:)  How Millennial Are You?  | (2:) 2013 Millenial Impact Report ))

The following paragraphs are excerpts from “The Sovereign Individual: Mastering the transition to the Information Age” by James Dale Davidson & Lord William Rees-Mogg (published by Touchstone, 1999).

“As ever more economic activity is drawn into cyberspace, the value of the state’s monopoly power within borders will shrink, giving states a growing incentive to franchise and fragment their sovereignty.” (p. 179)

“If a 747 jetliner filled with one investor from each jurisdiction on earth touched down in a newly independent country, and each investor risked $1,000 in a start-up venture in the new economy, the American would face a far higher tax than anyone else on any gains. Special, penal taxation of foreign investment, exemplified by the so-called PFIC taxation, plus the US nationality tax, can result in tax liabilities of 200 percent or more on long-term assets held outside the United States. A successful American could reduce his total lifetime tax burden as a citizen of any of more than 280 jurisdictions on the globe.” (p. 306)

Questions: 

  • What do discussions of a transaction tax mean to you? 
  • If a transaction tax were to exist, what kind of transactions should be subject to tax?
  • If a transaction tax were to exist and most transactions were to be subject to such a tax, what changes should be made to our current tax system to modify or reduce taxes collected in other areas, or other ways?

 “The competitive conditions of the Information Age will render it possible to earn high incomes almost anywhere. In effect, the locational monopolies that nation-states exploited to impose extremely high taxes will be broken by technology. They are already breaking down.” (p. 307)

“Contrary to the popular impression in rich economies today, income inequality rose rapidly during the industrial period. An estimate cited by the World Bank suggests that per-capita income in the richest countries ballooned from eleven times that in the poorest countries in 1870 to fifty-two times in 1985. While inequality increased dramatically on a global basis, it often appeared otherwise to the fraction of the world inhabiting wealthy industrial countries. Income inequality rose among countries rather than within them.” (…)
Equal Opportunity in the Information Age:  In the Information Age, familiar locational advantages will rapidly be transformed by technology. (…)
Earning capacity for persons of similar skills will become much more equal, no matter in what jurisdiction they live.” (pp. 234-237)

Questions:  

  • Has technology provided you with enhanced earning capacity?  How so or how not?
  •  Have certain effects of technology impaired or reduced your earning capacity?
  • In your opinion, or your dialogue group’s collective opinion, has society made the best use of technology available to us today?  Why or why not?

Today’s movements of capital around the globe in efforts to avoid taxation, combined with jurisdictions that traditionally shield the identity of individuals and corporations that hold accounts, have bumped into the advancement of the information society. This has resulted in leaks of information about the practice of offshoring, with various governmental reactions, including a US Treasury effort to address the issue.

As time goes on, changes in how people use technology in connection with currency will mean that individuals will need to spend less and less effort to reduce their liability. This is due in part to the growth of widely available encryption, and the eventual development of decentralized virtual currencies that do not rely upon governments or banks. (A discussion paper on various types of virtual currencies was published by the European Central Bank in 2012.)

As just one example, on March 28, 2013, the total value of bitcoins (a decentralized virtual cryptocurrency in use around the globe) in circulation passed 1 billion dollars.  Because technology (such as TorWallet and ZeroCoin) is now available to anonymize the transactions of these virtual currencies, and because many technologies that do so begin as decentralized code with no single location, it is generally infeasible for governments to trace, control, or tax transactions involving decentralized virtual currencies.  These are not based on gold or trust in a central authority, but rather, are based on how people value information, processing power, and relationships.

Questions: 

  • What does the term ‘reduction of liability’ mean to you? 
  • In a world where an increasing number of transactions are conducted in a virtual realm, and where transactions and systems are becoming more difficult to track or control, what values or relationships would enable a “giving” or “donor” culture?
  • What kind of organizations or services do you presently support voluntarily, by monetary donation, gift, or contribution of time and effort?]

Ultimately, it is likely that this liberating aspect of technology will eventually place even more control of development, production, and maintenance of currency systems in the hands of individuals, in essence resulting in governments being more subject to the interests of individuals, associations, and different types of corporations.

The question remains, what will networks of individuals do with this newfound ability?

  • As information becomes currency, how do you think people should develop consensus to both operate their business and manage public resources?
  • What will take the place of systems that traditionally were managed by the state, but will no longer be sustained due to diminishing governmental capacity to tax in a post-national climate?
  • Can existing systems that government fails to maintain be “picked up” and maintained for the public good by non-governmental entities without risking the quality or quantity public service or resource in question? What are some of the pitfalls of privatization as traditionally conducted?
  • In such a situation, who or what should handle parks, health, and / or educational systems?
  • In an environment characterized by decentralization of systems, what is the individual’s role in the maintenance of public resources, or alternatively, public order? In such conditions, what would you do to help prevent or remedy any problems or adverse conditions associated with economic inequality, including poverty?
  • Do you view the increases in the potential of individuals and networks to help others as Opportunity?

Wrapping Up

  • What does Economic Inequality mean to me (or to the people I am exploring the issue with in this dialogue session)?
  • What does Opportunity mean to me (or to the people I am with in this dialogue session)?
  • (If exploring these issues with a small group of dialogue participants:)
    Did your group arrive at consensus on these meanings? How did this occur?
  • How does Economic Inequality relate to Poverty and Wealth in the United States?

Extending the Dialogue

(The following steps assume that the participants have additional time to explore the issues further or in greater depth over different sessions.)

  • Describe your concerns, and to the extent that you developed shared concerns with others in a group while deliberating on these topics in this dialogue, describe any concerns that your group resolved or arrived at a consensus on.
  • If there is more than one concern or issue, describe visually how they are connected. Use post-its, computer drawing tool(s), or anything that seems appropriate to visually characterize how the concerns or issues you discussed relate to each other. As part of this, visually describe the human relationships or connections that are relevant to these concerns as well as the connections between the concerns or issues.
  • Tentatively determine some ways in which the relationships you are describing can be put to use, or alternatively, changed, to address the concerns in a meaningful way. Establish a “direction” that you’d like to go.
  • Together, consider some scenarios involving steps that could help you move in the preferred direction that you tentatively determined above.
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Elephants in the room

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What other issues intersect with those of Poverty & Wealth?

  • The use of prison labor in the U.S.?
  • High rates of part-time employment?
  • Increasing the use of unpaid internships?
  • Short-term and long-term impacts of delaying a generation from entry into the workforce?

The NDN Conversation Kit asks groups to consider similar ideas together. Let’s begin by looking at the many communities that comprise America and a few facts about what it’s like to live in them, move up, over, or out of them during one’s lifetime. In July 2013, the New York Times published a front-page article about economic opportunities and mobility in America. Citing researchers from Harvard University and the University of California Berkeley the article describes how “one’s starting place matters”…

“Where you grow up matters,” said Nathaniel Hendren, a Harvard economist and one of the study’s authors. “There is tremendous variation across the U.S. in the extent to which kids can rise out of poverty. … All else being equal, upward mobility tended to be higher in metropolitan areas where poor families were more dispersed among mixed-income neighborhoods.”

Look up statistics for your own city with the interactive version created by the New York Times. Use their map to explore how place impacts poverty & wealth in your life, community, or region. Lighter colors represent areas where children from low-income families are more likely to move up in income distribution.