The Common Good in Common Conversation A program of Kim Klein, CompassPoint Nonprofit Services and the Building Movement Project We believe: The values implied in the phrase the common good are fundamental to a healthy democracy. For democracy to thrive, people must be able to engage in wide-ranging conversations that encourage us to think
for ourselves and join with others to act on our beliefs. The nonprofit sector is part of the common good, and thus must be a leader in promoting meaningful conversation and action. Goals: Learn simple tools for leading and participating in conversations about the common good Understand the potential of nonprofits to be a force
for change Look at fair and just tax policy as a key example of a commons conversation A Definition The Common Good: means ensuring that the social systems, institutions, and environments on which we all depend work in a
manner that benefits all living beings and the earth itself. Common Good Principle A commons-based society is structured so that everyone can have a good life. This means that most people can say YES to these questions For the most part, for most of your life, 1) Are you happy? 2) Are you physically safe and financially secure?
3) Are you able to make real choices about the course of your life? An easy explanation of the common good: We all do better when we all do better. Senator Paul Wellstone, MN
(1944-2002) Your turn: What does your nonprofit do for the common good? Examples of Common Good Structures How is the common good paid for? By a combination of taxes, private donations, volunteer time, and human behavior that recognizes our
individual role in a larger community. The percentage that each contributes varies greatly. Example: Trash in a Public Park The city owns and maintains the park using tax dollars. People put trash in the can. But not all trash gets in the can, so sometimes individuals pick it up or nonprofits schedule clean up
days to clean the park thoroughly once a year And the city hauls the trash away. A BALANCED SYSTEM photo credit Wayan Vota, OnTask via Flickr What happens when the system is out of balance? The city owns the park, but because of tax cuts trash is not
picked up. Clean-up days are cancelled because of rat sightings. Because of cuts in services to homeless people, some sleep at the edge of the park. People no longer use the park and soon it isCLOSED Photo credit: pwever Power concedes nothing
without a demand. Frederick Douglass What Can Nonprofits Do? 1. Understand Our Influence The Nonprofit Sector nationally: 1.6 million nonprofit organizations generate: $1.4 trillion per year in income from: Government : 30% Earned Income: 50%
Private Sector: 20% The private sector includes gifts from living individuals, gifts from bequests, and gifts and grants from foundations and corporations. Figures as of 2012. Source: National Center for Charitable Statistics and Foundation Center California has 2nd largest nonprofit workforce in the USA 112,000 nonprofits generate: $160 billion per year Employ 8.5% of workforceabout 750,000 people
Source: Employment in Americas Charities, Salamon and Sokolowski, 2006. http://www.adm-cf.com/jhu/pdfs/Featured_Links/EIAC.pdf Your State Here YOU can also break this down by county and even city. 2. Make the Common Good a Common Conversation Every single one of us has something to say to the
others Eduardo Galeano, noted Uruguyan author Listening Styles Photo credit: garageolimpo via flickr Competitive Listening with judgment Lack of attention Waiting to make a point or intervene
Collaborative Open Full attention to words and whats behind them Not necessary to intervene What could happen if we asked Is a tax on soda a good idea?
Would you pay slightly more in taxes if it kept food banks & health clinics open? Does voting really make a difference? Should dog
parks be paid for with tax dollars? Practice engaged listening to fully understand anothers point of view Understanding More Fully
What I heard you say was. I think you are saying is that correct? Understanding Correctly Please tell me more What was important to you about that? Can you give me an
example? What did you want in that situation? Ask open-ended questions What was one of your first memories about taxes? When have you
thought, That was a good use of tax money? and when, That was a waste of public money? Do you see any solutions to our state budget crisis?
3. Understand the Basics One thing we know. There are enough resources in the United States. We can be the country we want to be. http://www.lao.ca.gov/reports/2011/calfacts/
calfacts_010511.aspx#zzee_link_2_1294170707 What values would you want a tax structure to reflect? Examples: - Equality? - Ability to pay? - Age? - Rewarding behavior? Principles of Fair and Just Tax Policy
1. Raises adequate revenues to pay for the public needs of society 2. Is progressive 3. Offers incentives for behavior that benefits the common good 4. Remedies inequality as much as possible 5. Is efficient and simple to administer (From Making Sense of the Tax Debate by Amata Miller) Early Thoughts On Taxes The legitimate object of
government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves -- in their separate, and individual capacities. - Abraham Lincoln, 1854
Some Definitions Progressive and regressive, when applied to taxes, are economic terms, not value judgments. Progressive means that the tax rate increases as a persons ability to pay increases. Regressive means that one tax rate applies to all (flat tax); this puts a greater burden on people
who have less ability to pay. Photo credit: Anne Ryan Types of Taxes Progressive or Regressive? Sales tax: Cigarettes Clothes Gas Alcohol
What are the common good issues in deciding whether a sales tax on a commodity is a good idea or not? Types of Taxes Progressive or Regressive? Property tax: Taxes are higher on a more expensive property, and they increase as the value of the property appreciates.
Fair? Not fair? How would you design this tax? Types of Taxes Progressive or Regressive Income tax: Regressive: Pay the same percentage on every dollar earned. With a flat tax of 10%, tax on $25,000 income would be $2,500. Progressive: Pay more as earnings increase. For example, on income of $100,000: (Numbers used are just to illustrate the concept)
Income First $25,000 Second $25,000 Third $25,000 Fourth $25,000 Tax Percentage 0% 10% 20% 30%
Total income: $100,000 Dollar Amount $0 $2,500 $5,000 $7,500 Total tax: $15,000 (before deductions)
Whats behind Californias budget issues? A 2/3rds vote of the Legislature is needed to create any new revenue streams. It is nearly impossible to get a 2/3rds vote. This 2/3rds threshold was created by two propositions: Prop 13, passed in 1978, which applied to taxes Prop 26, passed in 2010, which applied to fees Commercial Property Not Paying Its Share
Prop 13 kept property taxes for both residential and commercial property at their 1977 levels until sold. Corporations rarely sell their property; even when they do, the property transfer does not trigger a reassessment. Corporations have benefitted far more from
Prop 13 than any one else. Proposition 13 Pros Helped elderly people and families on fixed incomes maintain ownership of their homes Cons
Corporations dont pay their fair share of property tax Hurts younger generations of Californians
Tax cuts can pass easily, but tax increases are almost impossible to pass Tax cuts can be made with a simple majority of legislators: 50% + 1 Tax increases can only be made with two-thirds of the legislature: 66% + 1 A tax increase can be defeated by just a few legislators. Consequences When Taxes
Are Cut State funding for nonprofit services is decreasing Need is rising Costs are rising Bringing It Back to Conversation People are complex: we often have layers of opinions. In a true conversation,
we shift from needing to get our own way or to win and we focus on hearing each other. Reminder: Listening Styles Photo credit: garageolimpo via flickr
Competitive Listening with judgment Lack of attention Waiting to make a point or intervene Collaborative Open Full attention to words and whats behind them Not necessary to intervene
4. Know What Can Be Done Feeling discouraged? Dont. Can nonprofits make a difference?
Yes! How? 1. Learn some of the options 2. Remember what weve already accomplished
1. Split into two teams 2. Elect one representative to be your first buzzer 3. Practice sound effects:
Ding, ding, ding! Awwww! 1. The ____ movement helped to pass the____ amendment so that women gained the right to vote.
- The Womens Suffrage Movement - the 19th Amendment Womens Suffrage in the United States was won in 1920, with much help from the National American Woman Suffrage Association, a nonprofit organization. 2. Using ___________, the Innocence Project has helped over 300 people get out of prison.
Answer: DNA Testing The Innocence Projects use of DNA technology to free innocent people has provided irrefutable proof that wrongful convictions are not isolated events but arise from systemic defects in our justice system. 3. True or False: It is impossible to ensure that our Social Security system will remain healthy indefinitely.
Answer: False Currently you pay Social Security Tax on the first $113,000 of your income. Raising the cap to the first $190,000 would insure that Social Security remained healthy indefinitely. 4. Who are 56% of the adult population but only 36% of likely voters in California?
People of Color The nonprofit California Calls is changing that. In the 2012 election, they turned out 124,000 low income voters, primarily people of color, which had a significant influence on the outcome of several state initiatives, including Prop 30, which stopped significant funding cuts to schools and social services. 5. The ____ helped to end school segregation by winning the____ Supreme Court case.
- The NAACP - Brown v. Board of Education The Brown decision inspired the marches and demonstrations of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and '60s; and the NAACP and other organizations contributed to the organizing and legal victories of that period. 6: Cities and states often subsidize a business with tax dollars because the
business promises to _________ Create new jobs Cities and states could recover millions of dollars when stronger clawback provisions and enforcement allow them to make delinquent companies return taxpayer subsidies if they relocated or didnt actually add new jobs. Photo credit: Andreas Klinke Johannsen via Flickr 7: Which nonprofit was the first to launch
the Montgomery bus boycott that ultimately brought Dr. King to prominence? Answer: Womens Political Council 8. True or False: Income from the sale of stock taxed at the same rate as income
earned from work at the FEDERAL level. False Income from the sale of assets, called capital gains, is taxed at 0-20% depending on several factors. This is why Warren Buffett noted that his secretary paid more taxes on her last dollar of income than he did. Photo: 401k 2013 via Flickr
9. In 25 years, the number of alcoholrelated traffic deaths each year has gone from 30,000 to 17,000. This decrease is due largely to the efforts of what nonprofit? Answer: MADD Mothers Against Drunk Driving The Winners!
In conversation, we are called upon to see things from anothers point of view. Sherry Turkle, MIT Professor, in NYT Op-Ed Photo credit: Ame Otoko via Flickr Some of these things are proposed solutions and some have already happened. But all of them require or required discussion.
What are the pros and cons of each one? Are their better solutions? Are their consequences we need to address? We wont know without more conversation. VOTING Expresses Values What Can I do? 1. Talk with others about what should be paid for by taxes and what should be paid for privately.
2. Talk with co-workers about ways the tax structure could be changed to reflect common good values. 3. Resolve not to be intimidated by people who say this is too complicated or those who cannot see anything positive in government. 4. If you can, vote and encourage others to vote. What Can Our Nonprofit Do? Level 1: Have a staff-wide conversation or brown bag lunch meeting about both how your nonprofit affects the
common good and how it depends on it. Level 2: Invite colleagues from other nonprofits to learn more and see if there is joint action you all can take. Level 3: Reach out to an organization in another nonprofit field (for example, if you work in the arts reach out to an environmental group or a health organization), and discuss how you can support each others advocacy efforts.
Keep in Mind: You dont have to know all the answers or have all the facts. (Thats what search engines are for.) Your health and well-being is part of the common good and you need to be involved in maintaining it, or when needed, restoring it or expanding it. You have the right to have opinions and to change your opinions. Your thoughts matter.
More Resources www.nonprofitstalkingtaxes.org Nonprofit Vote: www.nonprofitvote.org Alliance for Justice: www.afj.org California Calls: www.cacalls.org California Budget Project: www.cbp.org Too Much: www.toomuchonline.org California Participation Project: www.caparticipates.org CURB: Californians United for a Responsible Budget: www.curbprisonspending.org Follow us!
Facebook: www.facebook.com/npstalkingtaxesCA Twitter: www.twitter.com/npstalkingtaxesCA Special thanks to these people for their help with the information and quality of this presentation: Anne Ryan, Kim Klein, Steve Lew, Mary Vradalis, Claudia Pena, Rebecca Bauen, Adriana Rocha, Cary Sanders, Ellen Wu, Marty Martinez, Sue Bennett, Ruben Cantu, the Building Movement Project team, and Myn Adess Thanks to our Funders: Gerbode Foundation and Haas Jr. Foundation
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