SF neighborhood organizes local version of Davos world economic forum

Tonight I was one of a dozen Bernal residents who attended the 2-hour first edition of the Bernal Economic Forum (“BeEF”) at our neighborhood center in the San Francisco neighborhood of Bernal Heights. The theme was: How to strengthen Bernal’s economic livelihood from within?

What we were looking for: economically-sensible solutions to neighborhood funding/financing challenges, both for for-profit and not-for-profit or charitable endeavors.

Each participant brought up different money-related needs and possible solutions. In the end, we identified 5 promising themes, in decreasing order of interest:

  • Local/peer investing
  • Shop local: payment and reward systems
  • Education and awareness
  • Doing more with less (money)
  • Voluntary taxes

As a result, the next Bernal Economic Forum in April will focus on local/peer investing.

Saving our schools in SF: call for solution ideas

Tonight, I attended a community meeting focused on finding solutions to the school financing crisis in San Francisco.  There is a $133 million shortfall this year in the SF education budget, which is about 22% of the total budget for San Francisco. This gap will require inevitable cuts: 25/30 students per class instead of 22, 10% pay cut for teachers, no summer school, no field trips, 1 hour less of education per day (7 instead of 8), furlough days (no work/no pay) for teachers.

During the meeting, “money” came back many times. “How much money we spend on education” “The city does not have any money” “Find the money” “not enough money” “we need more money”, etc.

The designated culprits: corporations should not benefit from prop 13, which freezes property taxes based on the original purchase price. Also, the 2/3 majority requirement in Sacremento makes decisions about tax reform difficult.

As I explained during the meeting, money supply has been contracting and is scarcer than ever across the board. Individuals, small businesses, non-profits, cities, etc. everyone is hurting as a result. Given that states are not allowed to print their own money, without any help from the federal government, the only solution are either for special interest groups to show their political muscles in behind-the-doors discussions, or to learn to do more with less federal reserve money. I also don’t think raising taxes is going to be welcomed by the taxpayer, given that the problem is not that the taxpayer is not paying enough taxes, but that the taxes are basically massively misallocated to warmongering instead of education.

Unless the federal government steps in (by increasing interest-bearing federal debt to private banks, or reducing warmongering budgets), the only solution I see is for the community to work together to do more with less federal reserve money, while ensuring the right level of reciprocity.

I have some ideas about how a community currency could help address part of this challenge in our specific neighborhood, but I’m interested to hear ideas from the currency community.

On March 11th at 6pm, at the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center, we will host the Bernal Economic Forum to discuss practical solutions to these budget problems based on cooperation between local businesses, residents and local non-profits.

If we cannot find a creative solution here in Bernal Heights to such a problem, I don’t know where we can.