Incorruptible Massachusetts

Solidarity Economy: Envisioning an economy that works for all of us

April 23, 2020 Anna Callahan Season 2 Episode 5
Incorruptible Massachusetts
Solidarity Economy: Envisioning an economy that works for all of us
Chapters
Incorruptible Massachusetts
Solidarity Economy: Envisioning an economy that works for all of us
Apr 23, 2020 Season 2 Episode 5
Anna Callahan

Hi, this is Anna Callahan and you’re listening to Incorruptible Massachusetts.  Our goal is to help people understand state politics: we’re investigating why it’s so broken, imagining what we could have here in MA if we fixed it, and reporting on how you can get involved. 

Today I’m interviewing Elena Latona from Neighbor to Neighbor, and Aaron Tanaka from the Center for Economic Democracy.

As I talked with Elena and Aaron, I felt so at home with the whole approach of their work.  In the opening of every episode I say we are imaging what we could have here in MA — and that is what  their organizations are all about.  They talk about how much of what we do in this political and economic climate is reactionary — we fight against what we don’t want.  Neighbor to Neighbor and the Center for Economic Democracy are about helping people go beyond that and envision what is possible.  

I’m going to quote Guy Alperovitz, who often opens his talks this way.  If you don’t want capitalism, and you don’t want state socialism, what do you want? And why should we listen to you if you don’t know?  

Aaron and Elena’s organizations exist to create the space for us to dream bigger.  To create a compelling vision of a world where our economy works for all of us, and is based on the idea that we are well only when you are also are well.

This feels so comfortable to me in part because that was one of the driving tenets of The Incorruptibles. In the wake of the 2016 election, when other groups were focusing on fighting back against Trump.  The Incorruptibles was created to study times when progressives have won big, when we've taken over entire political bodies and passed great people-centered laws, and how did we do it?  And, of course, to train people across the country to create their own strategies to take back their own cities.

If all we do is resist the constant erosion of our rights, we will never live in a just world.  Thank you Elena and Aaron for this vital work of giving people space to imagine a better future, one that we can create together.

Elena is the Executive Director of Neighbor to Neighbor. Before that, she served as Executive Director of Centro Presente, a Boston-based immigrant rights organization. Elena holds a Master’s degree and a Ph.D. in Public Policy from the University of Massachusetts.

Aaron Tanaka is the Director and co-founder of the Center of Economic Democracy.  Before that he co-founded the Boston Ujima Project, which organizes neighbors, workers, business owners and investors to create a People's Economy in Boston.

Without further ado, here is my interview with Elena and Aaron.

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/incorruptible_massachusetts)

Show Notes Transcript

Hi, this is Anna Callahan and you’re listening to Incorruptible Massachusetts.  Our goal is to help people understand state politics: we’re investigating why it’s so broken, imagining what we could have here in MA if we fixed it, and reporting on how you can get involved. 

Today I’m interviewing Elena Latona from Neighbor to Neighbor, and Aaron Tanaka from the Center for Economic Democracy.

As I talked with Elena and Aaron, I felt so at home with the whole approach of their work.  In the opening of every episode I say we are imaging what we could have here in MA — and that is what  their organizations are all about.  They talk about how much of what we do in this political and economic climate is reactionary — we fight against what we don’t want.  Neighbor to Neighbor and the Center for Economic Democracy are about helping people go beyond that and envision what is possible.  

I’m going to quote Guy Alperovitz, who often opens his talks this way.  If you don’t want capitalism, and you don’t want state socialism, what do you want? And why should we listen to you if you don’t know?  

Aaron and Elena’s organizations exist to create the space for us to dream bigger.  To create a compelling vision of a world where our economy works for all of us, and is based on the idea that we are well only when you are also are well.

This feels so comfortable to me in part because that was one of the driving tenets of The Incorruptibles. In the wake of the 2016 election, when other groups were focusing on fighting back against Trump.  The Incorruptibles was created to study times when progressives have won big, when we've taken over entire political bodies and passed great people-centered laws, and how did we do it?  And, of course, to train people across the country to create their own strategies to take back their own cities.

If all we do is resist the constant erosion of our rights, we will never live in a just world.  Thank you Elena and Aaron for this vital work of giving people space to imagine a better future, one that we can create together.

Elena is the Executive Director of Neighbor to Neighbor. Before that, she served as Executive Director of Centro Presente, a Boston-based immigrant rights organization. Elena holds a Master’s degree and a Ph.D. in Public Policy from the University of Massachusetts.

Aaron Tanaka is the Director and co-founder of the Center of Economic Democracy.  Before that he co-founded the Boston Ujima Project, which organizes neighbors, workers, business owners and investors to create a People's Economy in Boston.

Without further ado, here is my interview with Elena and Aaron.

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/incorruptible_massachusetts)

Anna Callahan:   0:01
[This transcript was made by a computer program and has errors. The audio is the definitive version of the podcast.] Hi, this is Anna Callahan, and you're listening to incorruptible Massachusetts. Our goal is to help people understand state politics. We're investigating why it's so broken, imagining what we could have here in Massachusetts if we fixed it and reporting on how you can get involved.  

Anna Callahan:   0:21
Today I'm interviewing Elena Latona from Neighbor to Neighbor and Aaron Tanaka from the Center for Economic Democracy. As I talked with Elena and Aaron, I felt so at home with the whole approach of their work in the opening of every episode, High say that we're imagining what we could have here in Massachusetts, and that is what their organizations are all about. They talk about how much of what we do in this political and economic climate is reactionary. We fight against what we don't want a neighbor to neighbor and the Center for Economic Democracy are about helping people go beyond that and envision what is possible. I'm gonna quote Guy Alperovitz, who often opens his talks this way "If you don't want capitalism and you don't want state socialism, what do you want? And why should we listen to you if you don't know?" Aaron and Elaine, these organizations exist to create the space for us to dream bigger, to create a compelling vision of world where our economy works for all of us and is based on the idea that we are, well, only when you are also well. This feels so comfortable to me, in part because that was one of the driving tenets behind the founding of the incorruptible. In the wake of the 2016 election, when other groups were focusing on fighting back against Trump, the incorruptible was created to study times when progressives have won big when we have taken over entire political bodies and passed a great people centred laws. And how did we do that? And, of course, to use that knowledge to train people across the country to create their own strategies and to take back their own cities? If all we do is resist the constant erosion of our rights, we will never live in a just world. Thank you, Elena and Aaron, for this vital work of giving people the space to imagine a better future, one that we can create together. Elena is the executive director of neighbor to neighbor. Before that, she served as executive director of Central presenting a Boston based immigrant rights organization, Elena Hold a master's degree and a PhD in public policy from the University of Massachusetts. Erin Tanaka is the director and co founder of the Center of Economic Democracy. Before that, he co founded the Boston Ojima Project, which organizes neighbors, workers, business owners and investors to create a people's economy in Boston without further ado. Here is my interview with Alina and Aaron. Hi there. I have the great pleasure of being here with Elena. Latona was the director of neighbor to neighbor Massachusetts and Aaron Tanaka, who is the director of the Center for Economic Democracy. Now, a friend of mine had told me to reach out to both of you to talk about the solidarity economy. And, um, I don't know exactly what that means, but I would love to hear from each of you a little bit about, uh, maybe a little bit about your organization, its mission, and then what the solidarity economy is. Do you want to go first? 

Elena Latona, Neighbor to Neighbor:   3:32
Okay, sure. And I direct neighbor to neighbor Massachusetts. We are a membership organization of the quote unquote new majority, which is Ah, a A short term to define, historically excluded communities. So we work with people call or immigrants, low income working class folks in the Gateway cities such asl in Worcester, Holyoke and Springfield. And we are a multi issue. We think of ourselves power organization, in that we understand that I am. You know, the socioeconomic indicators in our neighborhoods are usually worse off that in most communities, not because there's anything wrong with us, but primarily because we are not at the decision making tables where things that affect our lives are being discuss. So we are Theory of change is about engaging in our power building so that we can be the ones that lead, you know, the changes, our greatest need. And so in that regard remote issue generally in the field of economic environment of justice. But we don't work in criminal justice. We don't work in health care. And, uh, at this moment we are primarily focusing climate, justice, environment of justice, housing just this in public transit.

Aaron Tanaka, Co-Founder of the Center for Economic Democracy:   5:00
Wow, Great. Yeah, well, it's great to be here, especially with Elena. I see neighborhood neighbors, one of the most vital organizations that's really led by community members, have power and reach across the state. And I think for all my whole process city of change it is really dependent on people. You've seen the individual experiences they're having as more than individual deficiency or mistake that they made, but rather understanding. It is a structural policy, often culturally driven issue that can't be solved individually but needs to be solved collectively. Building power into really honor the knowledge and solutions that people have already, whether they've been practicing ways of supporting each other's communities, ancestral e or the idea is that people have when they're face to face with immediate problems. And how do we actually take the best solutions and gather enough power to overcome the barriers to these solutions that I think it was already know on these barriers, obviously are. That's all the corporate power, white supremacy, patriarchy, the systems that have really held together our society since the beginnings of America. And so from that perspective, you know, my organization, the Center for Economic Democracy, was really founded as a social movement support organization and really at the core of what we see, the social movement in the US is organizations like neighbor, neighbor that are working every day with folks, um Teoh address the challenges and come up with solutions, I think for us in particular, we saw that while people were working on so many important issues that often times because the situation is so dire. So you're trying to keep someone from getting evicted out of their house or keeps falling out of prison or keeping you pipeline getting built in your community that while it's essential that we have people standing up to fight up against these that were often defensive and reactive, and we're in a place of visiting what would be possible? And so we believe that the solutions are in our communities, but we need to resource them to nurture them, create space for them. And so the Center for Economic Democracy was founded as organization within the broader social movement ecosystem. To really help resource and create space for everyday folks to dream bigger, to move from a defensive to a positive future, movie on over against. But what, before all these things that I think we all need to know. But when it comes to actually envisioning a clearer on compelling and coherent vision for alternative to capitalism that's been rooted in racism and sexism. Historically, that's a lot of work to do on. So his organization. We try to let in whatever capacity we can so that we could build a vision

Anna Callahan:   7:44
and so as to a solidarity economy. And maybe that's not even the best turn. So how do you talk about the economy from a perspective that you're coming from of really? You know, starting off with the most marginalized people who do not have currently have power and helping them envision what economic power might

Elena Latona, Neighbor to Neighbor:   8:09
be. I like solidarity, economy. I love a that a more than additive me to imagine what an economy could look like that works for all of us. And one of the reasons there are a lot of reasons why, like solidarity. But it is a core value, a neighbor neighbor. And we define solidarity. Very simply, We defined that us. We are Well, if you're well is so it's that sense off. Yeah. So we there we're in this together. So when you were talking air own about the urgency off collectivity in the way that we think of solutions, I think that speaks of solidarity when, Ah, when I think about what is one of the core since off capitalism is the fact that we're like Teoh and told the were individualistic and that you know we're here and if we have money is because of our own effort, you know, so that that that entire ideology around the rugged individual, which is fundamentally ally, is from the mentally Amir that has been used right? It still learned to enslave people you know, just to so many terrible things against primarily people call or or even the poor working class folks. And for me, the rial counter value counter narrative is something like solidarity. So when you start with a solidarity account, when you start with a frame, you're starting in a very, very different A a split place, and you start imagining how it is that we are going toe a produce things and services for each other that are in the solidarity. You know our framework. How are we going to consume, right? Like all the aspects of an economy, you start thinking of them in a very different way because you start thinking of them in a way that we are about sharing that we're about a the planet sustainability, that we are not about exploding each other's labor, you know, for just profit. And we're here to build an economy which is fundamentally about the production consumption of goods and services it in a way that I am. Well, if you're well and that against the last thing I'm gonna say, I think you're going to speak to that even more and better air on that. It's not just about the economy, but it's also about the rules of the economy that is to say, the politics or the economy, and that we live in ah system right now in a political economy that is capitalistic in nature in the A a very, very a few small number of people make decisions for you and me, like right now in this room right now that we're sitting having this conversation, there are very, very ah handful of people in corpora bill rooms in media rooms in, you know, the whole superpower making huge decisions for you or me without checking with you or me about how they're going to use things that our tax dollars right toe fund worse to fund in the walls. Do they make huge decisions about our money? It without checking in with us, and then they shape, you know, constantly our needs and desires. So the rules off that economy, who makes the decisions about that economy is also something else that the sort of their economy looks at its trying in a very intentional way to change in shift. So I like it. It's beautiful. And we're we're building that road, you know? We're learning with each other. We're building a world because we certainly going up. Straighten, right? Yeah.

Aaron Tanaka, Co-Founder of the Center for Economic Democracy:   12:01
Oh, yeah. No, that's beautiful. Thank you. Um, yeah. I mean, I would I would kind of pick up. You know, Elena, with your your point that this is really, like, certainly includes political and economic dimensions, but it is actually trying to really re define who we are as people and how he understands, understand ourselves, and we're working against, you know, several 100 years of ideology. But I think what's also exciting about the solidarity economy is that so many of the solutions are not new ideas. So we often part of a group that's two economy coalition, which is ah, leading solidarity economy or organization across the country. But we're called in the economy but often try to remind people that these practices that Elena described in many ways are the ways in which humanity survive for millennia wasn't until we started having different and involving systems of domination that we would sort of lose thes ways of sharing and being. And being in collective survival with one another, as opposed to sing herself, is animistic individual competitors. You know, I would say it really clicked the lock. That logic is what allowed things like for the US to be a settler Colonial stay for us to do these horrific things to so many people. Um and you know, at the same time, um, more recently, those values have been re rarefied within the economic logic of capitalism. Neoliberalism. So much of our economics, curriculum and ideology is premised on what our friend Emily Kawana, who's the leading solve their economy practitioner in this state, really globally talks about home of economists. It's the sort of logic of what economic theory is built on the belief that people are self interested actors and that we have narrow, sort of rational decision making and and really there is a dimension of us that certainly do act that way. But that is not the totality of us. And we understand that the incentives and the structures air drawing those and requiring us to act so often in competition because that's really the root of capitalism is a system where people compete to survive. So

Anna Callahan:   14:13
I've always been amazed that people can believe that people can believe that somehow we're gonna get our best society by being selfish, like everyone at their gut knows that that's not

Aaron Tanaka, Co-Founder of the Center for Economic Democracy:   14:24
so much that's that we have Teoh Gaslight. The reality is that we hold in our bones toe, assimilate into the system, even if those report into it. So what? I think what's exciting about the Solidarity economy is, first of all, that it is a direct counterpoint. Both to capitalism is economic system, but also to top down state socialism. So it's important to acknowledge that there are alternatives to capitalism historically, and there are certain great accomplishments that state socialism was able to demonstrate. And I think as modern progressives and leftists, there's a critique of the top down nature of social state socialist planning so solidarity economy really offers 1/3 pathway. Um, that in some ways reject some of the core premises of both capitalism and socialism. State socialism, but also starts incorporate some of the stronger dimensions and valleys of them. And so it's all their economy, you know, as a framework, really has its roots in South and Central America. There's lots of countries that actually have Solidarity County much more integrated into the progressive movement. So people know what it is in the US It's not a term that I think most self identified progressives necessarily know what it means, But I think that's partially because we're just behind is a country in terms of our ability to be explicitly critical of capitalism, which is opening up after occupy a few other moments with, you know, movement for black lives. But clearly, with the Bernie Sanders moment, that's been really exciting to see. But still, people aren't entirely clear on what the alternatives are, what the sort of vision for Solidarity economy offers and so just briefly mentioned on pick up on some of the examples you gave Elena there. There's a few core dimensions of capitals, and one is around the wage labour relationship. The idea that you can have a boss in the owner of a corporation, that you work for them for a wage than everything that's left can be kept by the owner, which is what we call profits capitalism so well. There are concrete examples and saw there the economy. It's called the worker owned cooperative, where there isn't a single bosses extracting profits. But everyone who contributes labor and work collectively share the profits. So there's one directive it to a major tenant that upholds the deep weight racial wealth disparities that we're seeing happening in the country because those with capital ownership and continue toe accumulate their control. Another quick example is around the use of land. Land right now is treated as a speculative commodity where people could make a bunch of money by investing in them. But we have examples of community land trust and that the street neighborhood initiative, but growing across the state, where instead of land being bought and sold for the best price, communities collectively decide what the best use for the land is who should be allowed to live on it, changing the rules rather than succumbing to basically the pressures of market capitalism that say whoever is willing to pay the most prices who you should give the land to, even if it means displacement of communities or destruction of the environment. And so we're already have models for how to think about alternatives to capitalism in a micro level. And part of what's all the economy is doing is bringing these together and then not only helping uplift them in the private sector in the ways that I describe, but also to Elaina's point integrating into the governance more broadly. So we talk about the disproportionate amount of power that people have in deciding where tax dollars go, what we actually have examples of participatory budgeting, though they're still fairly superficial. But those examples where people get to directly decide and govern not just something in their own small business but actually the collective public good, who can collectively engage around what our needs are and to counter act the special interests that will continue to exist and try to drive public spending and money and resource is towards their own self interest. But if we can democratize to make things more transparent, part of the theory is that at least people have a say instead of begging or fighting or demanding all the time and said we removed from protests towards governance.

Elena Latona, Neighbor to Neighbor:   18:25
Yeah, and also a, you know, democratizing finance capital like the gym, A project which is another example off, you know, democratizing. It is sure making process where the community itself, You know, the sites where the dollars are going to be invested dollars that are raised right now through private means A mostly, but then is the people that are part, you know, off the community that is that OK, so x amount of dollars should go toe to you. You know, we like your business. We think that what you're doing, you know, in the square is terrific. You know, you are a complying with our standards off labour standards of environment. So we do think that you deserve, you know, to be given, you know, x amount of dollars at a very, very low to no interest loan. Eso itt's pretty cool, and I could said, I feel like it's experimentation mode, but it so far some of the projects that you guys are starting in supporting a are keeping very faithful, you know, to the tenants, into the into the values and and we're learning together. Is that thing off making the road? Yeah. Make the world were walking, right? Yeah.

Anna Callahan:   19:40
Yeah. And I have to just pick your brains. Like, as you talk to people who maybe never heard of this. People who aren't You haven't thought a lot about capitalism versus socialism versus 1/3 way. Like, what are some concrete examples? I love the example of a workplace worker owned cooperatives. I think that's something that everybody understands. They go to a job there. Boss tells them what to do, and then they get paid is your paycheck. And maybe the CEO of their company is getting paid $50 million a year. They and they don't know. And where is that money coming from? Yeah, we all get it. That that money is really coming from your work. Um, so I love that example. Gets very sort of every day, kitchen table example. I have sat down with the folks at the Somerville Community Land Trust for a long time, and I still find it a little bit difficult, really. Parts out exactly how a community land trust effects my life. And so as you talk to people, if do you have some other, like, concrete, basic examples of things that you might have a solid e solidarity economy that would just really changed the way.

Elena Latona, Neighbor to Neighbor:   20:52
Yeah, I have one. It would be justice. You're so right there on that. This practice of being with us forever. Okay. But I am an immigrant from a civil war. Okay? This happens in my community all the time. A, uh, somebody that community ties. Yeah, because of immigration issues, we need to re picture it that body, we need to send the body back home. Very no program to help you. And so there pull funds. They're actually pull funds in the community that it take care, right? A of each other and the phones have names like or 40 million upon me today For you tomorrow. For me, that's a really, really that's that's the name of fun. You know, two more today for you tomorrow for me, right? And so we all know and we between into this funds that they care or community needs that no health insurance with the care off no, you know, March wire insurance with the care off. Nobody cares. Right in. The system lowers, but so that's a very good example with solidarity in practice that has been with us. And you will see in a lot of communities that there are this full funds were people put in to the care and those over time. If you are a little bit more, I don't know, maybe visionary, you know, they can begin or shape. They can give you begin more goals that could be given more and they can grow. You know, it's created. Funds can go over time, take care of many of the things eso That's an example that I know that is very personal in nature. Yeah, yeah,

Anna Callahan:   22:40
And it's funny cause it sounds like insurance. But without the profit in the middle men in the administration, right writes the pooling of resource is right.

Aaron Tanaka, Co-Founder of the Center for Economic Democracy:   22:51
I mean, in those situations, I would I would guess, or those that I've witnessed, you know, they're not saying, Oh, you're more likely to get sick. And so we need to balance your You know, the risk rating against ordered this. You know so much of the micro decisions so that get made within a capital system that aren't governed right through a collective process. To do what's best for everyone, then leaves those people who are the weakest behind or they're gonna charge them. Or so even in the example of the pulled savings sort of fun. You could do it in a very capitalist way, or you could do it with this value, solidarity. And, um, you know, I think that's for us. Is the show, like all all capitalism and markets is is a system for allocating labour, the bounty of the natural Earth, um, land right in capital money and steered the stewarding them in different ways so that they get to the right people at the right time to do the work that they need to do to produce things that we need to survive. But like so right now, the logic is that, well, if you just sell it to the person who's gonna pay the most, ultimately it's going to pan out Well, there's lots of ways of making decisions, and this is an exercise that I'd like to do with people like there's a market so you know, that's one allocation mechanism is you sell as high as you can, and if you're a buyer, you buy as low as you can. But there's lots of other ways, Let's say of distributing housing. What we already know. There's things like waiting lists. You know there's lotteries. There is those in most need. You could have sort of apply these, but that's it. That's one that we could see. Some what housing. But you could do that with Labour. You could do that with other parts of the economy. And so it's actually what we're saying is that people should decide what the best tool to make allocation decisions are right now. We're right now. Everything defaults to the market economy where you compete and the logic is said to be. You know, whoever again could make the most money of it. That's what's gonna pretty successful. Good. Well, in other places, you could say what we're not gonna invest in unnecessary good to services until everyone has their needs. Met first, right? So it's a little bit theoretical, but I do think if we can start to see the economy, a system for making decisions, how much do we move from people giving the decision, making power over the economy and fooling ourselves to think that their Democratic because we tell ourselves, Will you vote with your money? But actually recognizing that there's a deep disparity and who has money? So right now, if we use that system, those with the most money get to make most decisions. So how do we move to a system where everyone actually has an equal say in making decisions about where our resource is Time? One of you, Peter, That's a we could also turn That's a little pedantic. So E could also, in terms of your question around just other examples of concrete sort of bread and butter issues like I mean, I would love the land trust to be more accessible. And so maybe I could give give a brief explanation for how so you know, at a very simple level, not a community. Land Trust is just a nonprofit organization that owns a swath of land. So in Boston were known we have done the Street Neighborhood Initiative, which has one of the largest urban land trust that has over 250 homes on it, has a greenhouse school and this nonprofit entity owns, uh, the entire body of land, and they basically just get the set, the terms for the cost of how much it costs to sort of live on the land. So, practically speaking, you know, if you're normally buying a house in the market, you have to pay for the land and the house. In this case, the nonprofit basically owns a house, and I'm sorry, the nonprofit basically owns the land, and then and so you know, if you're normally gonna pay $500,000 for a house, and some of that includes the land cost in this case, the land causes trump down. So if you're a person who now wants to buy a home on the land trust, you only have to pay for the person. So, first of all, by taking the land price that makes it cheaper for people. But what's more important is that once you get into the house, you could resell your house. You could be even sell it. You can't sell it for however much you console on the market. And that's the key thing, because part of what's happening is someone hooked you up. I give you access to be able to be in a house, an affordable rate. And so we want to make sure that when you sell it that you don't make a killing, you could still make some increases right. You could sort of build some level of activity. But just because there's a housing boom doesn't mean that you get the sell to the highest bidder. Because the land ultimately is governed by the community, community is setting how much appreciation. So that's an example of taking land, making it affordable for people, allowing them to build some equity without sort of just saying whoever is willing to pay the most for this house is who gets it on. So that's been a really important mechanism to preserve and create affordable housing On also in the 2008 crisis, what was really exciting is that land trust around the country performed much better in terms of a much lower rate of foreclosure. For people to be able to stay in their houses partially because they weren't overburdened by exceedingly high homeownership costs and start with their mortgage was more affordable because of the premise of the landless in the first place. So still a little mocking me. That wasn't but

Anna Callahan:   28:07
that makes sense.

Aaron Tanaka, Co-Founder of the Center for Economic Democracy:   28:10
So you know. So I think, given especially so much, you know, I think the the current bubbling fight for Brent controls a really important, essential one. That's about mitigating and putting limits on the market economy, which we need to do because you know, there's there's 250 homes on the land trust, but that's a drop in the bucket in terms of all the land that we have. But long term, how could we envision actually all land being stewarded not by whoever is willing to pay the most to the highest bidder, but actually communities air saying and designating the use of land of affordability rates and actually that we have some control over what's happening in our community, which is not how it feels now. Right now, it feels like, you know, the economy happens to us as opposed to us having some sales.

Anna Callahan:   28:56
And, you know, when Elena when you were talking about this pooling of resource is it did make me kind of think a little bit of Medicare for all. Do you consider something like Medicare? for all to be sort of part of solidarity economy that gets removing the sort of sucking out of the prophet that goes to know the owners of the companies that something that you consider sort of related

Elena Latona, Neighbor to Neighbor:   29:22
to. Yeah, I think I think in this regard Aron and me may have a little bit of a slight different take on it. Because, of course, you describe this where there the economy, like the third way. So it is a alternative also to stick state socialism in many ways, something like Medicare for all is socializing, right, Socializing health care for us. I I'm still in avowed socialist, even though I don't believe in the state control and, you know, centralizes from making like what we saw in the union. You know, I am a very big lover or democracy as well, but But because, you know, some of these things are still in, um, experimentation face right, that's always see it, you know, the land draws, you know, some of the worker co ops and all of this, and because it's still ask myself, you know who is actually paying, right? Look who is actually paying, like in the example off or party manana for me is people are paying right we're paying. And on top of that, we're also paying taxes, right? And on top of that, we have to pay copayments. And on top of that, we have to pay something to get the tea and, well, that was right and goes on and on and on and on. And I'm a very big believer that if I am going to be paying taxes right, which is whatever it iss I have to have a say on that money. And I want that money to go for things like Medicare for all to go for things like free public transit go for things like free, you know, a public colleges, because I'm still thinking about the whole spaying and so in my mind. And I really loved the idea off living in a society where we are taking care of each other where we are pulling our funds together. Where we are pulling a resource is together and we're giving each other the best that we can give. And right now the way that we do that, except that it is terribly corrupt, is through taxes, right like I believe in paying taxes because I believe in that. I believe in the common good. I believe in the public in your own in the Commons, right? And so the only where we have right now and I admit that is terribly corrupt is through taxes, because otherwise you're going to have a private a intervention in paying for a lot of these things, whether be nonprofits, philanthropy, you know, people with lots of money to spend. And so these are feel good projects. If you know individuals, they're putting together their money in a community and we are not claiming what's ours, which is a tax money.

Anna Callahan:   32:16
That money is

Elena Latona, Neighbor to Neighbor:   32:16
ours. And the last thing I want to say about that money be in ours is the capital. No stop. And they've been going after the largest market, which is the U. S. Government is trillions of dollars. When you add up the federal, the state and all the locals, you're talking the biggest market available to capitalists and they've been going after it like crazy and wanting toe private. I said, so they can get that this is how sick they are. They get you coming and going right. You get the gate in the pocketbook. Whenever you buy, they get in the pocketbook because they say, you know nothing, nothing off your writers And then they get you because they're going after your tax money and making money but making a profit on it for riel. So I have a little bit of a take because I still feel like there is a people's demand that is fair and just that has not been realized just yet. It so, yeah, I'm a very big believer, A Medicare for all Except that I would agree with you, Erin, that the question off, how it is that ministered, You know how known Democratic that that stuff is being? I agree with you and nothing is perfect.

Aaron Tanaka, Co-Founder of the Center for Economic Democracy:   33:35
Yeah, I mean, for me the way that you know, it's hard for me to say whether this is in the solidarity economy, per se or not. But in terms of what I think, you

Anna Callahan:   33:46
don't need me to derail the conversation about you. No,

Aaron Tanaka, Co-Founder of the Center for Economic Democracy:   33:48
no, no, no, no. I think it's a It's important question, though, because oftentimes solidarity economy solutions tend to focus on a private sector solution. So cooperatives land trust things like Kojima, independent financing and if if anything, the attempt to organize the public sector is the help. Subsidize, protect, nurture those models within the sea of capitalism which I think is necessary. So just in the same way that we give subsidies toe g e. Why couldn't we be giving subsidies and tax breaks to, you know, our own enterprise representing an ending? You know, workplace exploitation or land is a speculative commodity, so that's that's great, but I But I also think that there is a necessity to democratize the public sector itself, which is the examples of participatory budgeting, for example, that's community control over land. And so those air two dimensions of how do you think of democratizing the private and the public sector? But then there's also a broader fight which is around shifting things out of the private sector into the public sector, which I think is the arguments. The national debate we're having around health care is whether health care should be provided as a guaranteed human right in the public sector or if you should only have health care if you could afford to pay for it same thing is true for higher education. Um, I even think the green new deal in terms of the public jobs guarantee, for example, is taking labour the AXP access to a job outside of the private sector in which you can only get it if someone wants to hire you versus saying this is something that should be provided for all people. And so a major fight is for us toe pushback exactly against late stage capitalism or neoliberalism, which has been about going back to the earlier argument I made around people critiquing the public sector and saying, Well, the way to fix it is by voting with her money. So they're saying, We don't like this service, so let's expose it to market pressures and competition, and that's what's gonna create, create accountability. Well, nothing. The change, in fact, that if you don't have money, you don't have votes in that system on those who have a lot of unnecessary influence. So then why don't we go back to actually creating accountable public systems through more direct democracy? And so to come back to your point? Elaine, I think not only do we need to make healthcare human right and it to be nationally guaranteed. But then the question is, how does it get administered? What are the kinds of enterprises organisations that are getting contracts from it, you know, Are we giving it to big corporations to execute on some of this work? One the health care situation? Or are we, for example, giving priority to health care providers that have mechanisms for client feedback and governance, for example? I'm making this up this week right now, but like there could be ways of thinking about how to improve public service provision through the intervention of new structures for direct democracy and accountability that I think would sort of kind of puts a ribbon around the solitary economy fight that we're in is, well, sort of the broader progressive struggle, which is where I see this this fight over the public. Good. So I think in some ways, like the progressive fight around the public, good needs to be connected with the solidarity economy, fight around democratizing both of public sector.

Elena Latona, Neighbor to Neighbor:   36:50
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I totally agree, because you know, when I think about health care, I you know, I dream over day where health care is gonna be super super super community based level, right? It dream of the day we're gonna let go off this fear. So everything needs to be hyper medicalized. Hyper doctors, hyper machines, hyper try me like it's just so that's what makes expensive, right? Like it makes it expensive because a and I dream of And I think that people that bring the solidarity economy approach to the work I'm thinking somebody like loose right that really have internalized so literally economy A Are people that I am, you know, could dream and envision a network off all this community based clinics that are operating according to local wars and needs. And so there is not a one size fits all right there. If you are operating in this post on, you're going tohave You don't care that is going to include herbs, that you were in the civil or that grandma probably brute for you when you had some kind of headache, and that's gonna be OK, right? Because that is the value over community old community ownership. That is the value that you are actually developing. Multiplicity off models, right? A take care off, highly complex. A problems that we have thought that the best way to fix is by home organizing in, you know, upper uber scales When we're not widgets, you know that go through some kind of factory line. But for that to happen, that's the shift that you were talking about. Arum. It is. It is the super deep shift that needs to happen in our minds. Let go, or what it means to really be in a modern society, right? It really go back to a place where we're so much grounded in what is good for us and what is good for each other and what it's good for the planet that we're not married in certain obsessive way. You know, the tricks, you know, because their their their tricks of capitalism. You know, from a circles, those tricks als, those machines, their tricks. You end up e, collect the stories, but you end up weeks in the hospital, bloat up, drugged up and not getting any better. But in your mind, you're getting the best health care in the world.

Anna Callahan:   39:40
The whole drugs and surgery model is one based on profit on. And you know, I remember recently because of Cortez talked about, she said. You don't build a diverse working class movement of people from every every race, every gender, every you know, religion by erasing our differences. And I think what you're talking about is in a deep, deep level celebrating the differences in our cultures in terms of everything, including health

Elena Latona, Neighbor to Neighbor:   40:18
care. Yeah, and honoring wisdom that we have forgotten about. You know, I give anything for a clinic that offers way Mawr A. You know, hope you're pathetic, holistic, because a lot of us are getting off the drugs. And a lot of those were getting off the highly hyper medicalized system. It is hard for little balls, you know, to find the kinds of ah a care that it is about health. It is not about illness and, you know, keeping the pharmaceuticals rich and happy, uh, and so that that can only happen in my mind when we thesis paralytic Matic shift in our minds where we let go off a lot of the trapping so motherly that we have given ourselves the lie that that's what it means to lead a good life. You know, in the meantime, we're not necessarily leading the most fulfilling, you know, peaceful, tranquil lives. Sometimes I just want to say people being stop.

Anna Callahan:   41:26
I see. I see your cars. You tried to go like this. You know you like this you like, you know, Wake up. You know you guys one last Yes. Knows this great Really wonderful. Cause a lot of this, the discussions that I had on here have been directly about legislation at the state level. Oh, yeah? And so But this conversation is so much more about a change in the entire way that we think of the home, the economy and about how we live our lives. It is, so is there. And I asked this question of people who were trying to get legislation passed. What is the what are the obstacles? And if those obstacles are not at the, you know, governmental state level Great. Just what do you feel like Are the the rial obstacles toward us? Getting this solitary solidarity economy that you're talking were to

Elena Latona, Neighbor to Neighbor:   42:30
begin. Let me come away way Have ah have ah, friend and colleague. It has a very simple a kind of theory of change. We call it Debra's Curves. It is very simple you know, it's just a curve. The cassette, like this one that in the middle starts emerging like this, but basically talks about dying paradigms and emergent better lines. And for me, you know the way that we make policy. It is a Valium system. It is incredibly fragmented, super fragmented. You know, you are doing housing. You cannot talk about transit, right? You're doing transit. You cannot talk about housing. And then also there is no you like, beautified your chance to stop and then housing. But we cannot do intersectional work. The way the policy making is done it we all know that it's highly political. We all know that it's led by majority dudes that are dinosaurs. But you know, there throw box model, the air ride, the would they think in the way they are that will hold them to power, you know, aim until they die. We know that their structural issues and still legislature is not democratic in nature. I mean, there are charter issues, you know, with the state that without the statehouses run that it gives, said it's like a democracy is like with transparency. They're never going to change that. Why should they issue no, do their benefit that things be the way they are? I mean, there's just a lot of problems and the it's a yeah, I mean, it's a Legislature. The by and large cares more about those with money than us, so I don't know that that would be just a few. I'm sure you got your toe Me, we do that. Workers, we gotta But that I hold my breath that the great salvation is going to come out of the state like No, no, no.

Aaron Tanaka, Co-Founder of the Center for Economic Democracy:   44:40
Yeah, I agree with all those challenges. I mean, I think there's lots of layers of challenges. One is, you know, the hegemony of our current system is just, you know, I do think I will say, though, you know, I've been tracking this opinion poll of young voters for like the last since I was young for the last 15 years around people's attitudes towards capitalism, socialism, and it has been really amazing to watch this number to steadily shift. Where now a majority of people are young people identified as liking socials, even if they don't really know what it is more so than they do capitalism. So you know, I think some of it is the ingrained sort of ideology from That's a relic, but still very president in power right now. Um, but there is a lot of reason to be hopeful that people are actually hungry and looking for these alternatives. But I think part of our challenges that, like, you know, if we like this phrase that says the heart learns with the hands do so. If you create opportunities for people of being a worker co op, then you start to see Oh, yeah, they could be a world without bosses that extract my labor for me. But these models are also very, very time and resource intensive to build. And so, just like trying to do enterprise or small business or a real estate is hard in and of itself. And then you're laying all these other dimensions that practically make them financially sometimes impaired, or at least challenge in different ways that it makes it a higher lift to do the right thing in business, when you're competing against Wal Marts and Amazon's of the world access to financing, so there's a whole dimension of just the concrete model building that we also have limits around. Um, but, you know, I think I think, actually, I'm I'm not optimistic in the short term, um, around where our country is in sort of the global rise of authoritarian nationalism and how far we are into the climate crisis already at this point, um, and I'm I'm genuinely, you know, fearful for what? So many millions of people, how they're gonna survive through it and at the same time, sort of hopeful that there is, like, a underlying, um, psychic shift that's underway where people are rejecting the dominant status quo. And, you know, the question is whether they're gonna move in our direction or they're gonna continue to slide or people slide towards the myths of, um, my nationalism in the role of men that they clung onto. So, you know, I'll say that, um, you know, the last thing I'll say, though, is like, there is also just the practical dimensions of moving state policy in sort of the ambition with which things were talking about, so, you know, to me, like we're gonna start introducing legislation that would help grow employee ownership at the state level. We already had a small victory or we have the Office of Employees are now called the Center From Play Ownership, which is a state agency that had not been funded for over 15 years but whose role is to help companies that actually have retiring business owners. And they don't have sellers on the market. And so the thing to do is just close the business. The workers in this job legacy goes away and said, Now there's office at the state level to help facilitate the sale of small businesses with the retiring business owners to the workers themselves, a za way that both helps the workers stayed with her working class people of color build assets, but also provides a small you know, some financial benefit to the former owner and allows that goods and services to continue instead of once it goes away. Now you know Amazon and Wal Mart's gonna take the place. It's never coming back, so there are meaningful strategies, the right right of first refusal on the housing space that's getting I think the Lady Edwards and others and housing justice community have been promoting at the state level. So there's

Anna Callahan:   48:29
if I may that a tenant's opportunity to purchase so that when kind of like in the business with landlords gonna sell the house and the tenants would have that first ability by.

Aaron Tanaka, Co-Founder of the Center for Economic Democracy:   48:39
So then, you know, kill me, create funds that help tenants, then when they need have access to purchasing property that they're already based in to be able. Teoh, you know, actually execute these fairly complex transactions, for example. So there's a lot there and then Teoh. The last thing I'll just say is I do think one of the most important questions for us at the state level is actually how much power we want to devolved to the municipal level for in order for us to be able to build more practices of direct local democracy, whether it's participatory budgeting or communities controlling land right now, As you know, so much of city power is preempted at the state level.

Anna Callahan:   49:17
I was I have to say I was shocked because I was living in California for a couple of years when I first got involved in politics and we passed. You know, Richmond which was close to us passed rent control. We passed public financing of elections, you know, various tenant protections. There's all, we just passed them. That seemed completely normal. I came here and apparently we can't pass anything....

Elena Latona, Neighbor to Neighbor:   49:40
nothing around immigrant rights in 15 years. 15 to 20 years. Zero No, not even after Trump got elected. I said, This is the moment for immigrants, Right toe. Get something done? No, even after Trump got elected them. Oh,

Anna Callahan:   49:55
yeah, it's terrible. And it and it is not the way you're phrasing it, that it removes our ability to build local power and local awareness around, you know, around policy and around the role of government role of public institutions as our tax dollars. So when when those councils them they have no power is kind of no point in getting people

Aaron Tanaka, Co-Founder of the Center for Economic Democracy:   50:20
elected. And then we wonder why people would get disillusioned by politics or don't believe in government. You know, I think we've all noticed that it's it's not irrational assumption. In fact, it's one that's been validated over and over by the disrespect people experience in relation to the government. So to the extent that we can help people make decisions and see how the decisions translate directly into the public good, we need to be creating spaces for that. But again that's gonna require really a re conceptualization of municipal governance that necessarily requires a reform at the state level institution itself. Right? And And I would say that like, what's funny is like, you know, there's a number of municipal models. There's like a through F for something. And there's mayors heavy, you know, Manager, a bunch of these, But, um, I think in some ways what's interesting. There's also a town hall model of governance, which is like everyone comes together and they govern together. Now I know amorous recently ended that practice and move. I think the council mayor format and I understand how they would be hard to manage entire city with a town hall structure. But I think a lot of the things that later and I were talking about in terms of local municipal governance, we talked about neighborhood councils having control over land. Actually, that is really like, How do you embed smaller town halls at neighborhood levels within the sort of broader democratic governance structure, so that there is a structured and respected and empowered channels for people to make decisions across issues that will then help us build a more clear relationship to governance and can ultimately make it more democratic.

Anna Callahan:   51:56
Well, that's to do much. Did you think this has been so refreshing conversation? You

Aaron Tanaka, Co-Founder of the Center for Economic Democracy:   52:04
know, I

Anna Callahan:   52:04
mean, all this conversation about, like, specific bills, state level and everything. Really? That's practical. Way clear,

Aaron Tanaka, Co-Founder of the Center for Economic Democracy:   52:12
Like neighbor neighbor, you know, is one of our powerhouses and actually passing.

Elena Latona, Neighbor to Neighbor:   52:16
Not really. I mean, we're part of coalitions, which is white bets. Police suggested us. I mean, we are part of those coalitions, but we know we know the game. You know, we go, you know, we go and talk to the guys. We put the pressure on the guys, but

Anna Callahan:   52:30
But it is about building that power. What, in your neighborhood before you really can't?

Elena Latona, Neighbor to Neighbor:   52:38
Yeah. One of the things that I didn't mention because his thesis before, But where we love is electing our own, we're really in it and the way we're going, we had a member of ours win City Council in 2015 in Springfield, and he just the nose a challenge to a state senator. I mean, it's part of the part of the, you know, kind of like the theory, because you cannot do one thing. You can do many things at once. You know, You gotta do the policy. You can do the sort that they turned. You can run your people. You gotta do seven things at once. But I gotta hope Bottom wins. That's gonna be like a major step up for us.

Aaron Tanaka, Co-Founder of the Center for Economic Democracy:   53:20
What's his full name?

Elena Latona, Neighbor to Neighbor:   53:21
Adam Gomez. Yeah. Yeah, I hope so. We'll see that. That's a major step. You know, winning a City Council race is nothing in Springfield, you know, nothing compared to like a state Senate race. We'll see. But thank you.

Anna Callahan:   53:37
Well, thank you both. So so much. It's been yet The lessee wants here, but which is not

Elena Latona, Neighbor to Neighbor:   53:43
about the interview. But, you know, they're times and I get very excited with electoral work because, uh, you know, just a d l having majority rule in a city council like

Anna Callahan:   53:55
those. Are you guys? Oh, yeah. Bela Fleck. I don't if you looked at The Incredibles, but that's like the whole thing we do is like, you stop thinking about individual campaigns, start strategizing around winning a majority or super majority, understand? Contemplates the mayor. Go build that. Yeah, That listen to part with

Elena Latona, Neighbor to Neighbor:   54:16
part of a movement that were totally part of the movement off. Like we need to let go in our cities. That's it. You know what? I'm saying that from them with the

Anna Callahan:   54:24
right. But first, though, I wouldn't help our cities had any power use because, you

Elena Latona, Neighbor to Neighbor:   54:32
know, the way that things are changing because we elected a second member in the City Council. So, you know, ideas, like, you know. Hey, you want a bus? City Council ordinance? You know, fun. Yeah. Why

Anna Callahan:   54:46
not? Okay. Yeah, way. Oh, I worked with Gail McLachlan. Do you know her from the Richmond Progressive Alliance? So they took over there, Say, you know, from Chevron from ownership, from and, uh and they and I talked to her about exactly how they did that after they were elected part because I knew they had done something really interesting. You know what, So apparently, Gail, when she was first to the first person elected us this city councillor, she met before every city council meeting. She would be with five members of the r. P. A. The ritual progressive life, and they would read through every item on the agenda, and they would each like, call up there, you know, coalition partners and get advice and figure out and help her understand? Like, how What she should say. What? You know how their coalition partners should react to this thing? What was not on the agenda? What should be on the engine? It was like Cho got true co governance. Amazing. That's what we

Elena Latona, Neighbor to Neighbor:   55:52
need. Because that is exactly how those guys have been doing

Anna Callahan:   55:54
it capitalised at all. They do it because they're lobbyist, you know? Yeah. I always like a nice today. You work.