Today we celebrate the IRS greenlighting our new 501c3 and offer a small glimpse of what is to come. We also offer commentary on the NM election, our work on public power and gun violence prevention legislation, and close with an update on our research on Guaranteed Basic Income. Good news on most fronts.
Rethink Our Democracy has been Approved. What does this mean?
First and foremost, it will take some time to set up Rethink Our Democracy, a separate website and YouTube channel, separate accounts, a new Board, and a far more disciplined way of operating. That discipline will be informed by research and consultation to make clear distinctions between the work of Rethink and Retake. Once we’ve got that set up, we can begin to raise money, seek grants, and hire our first staff.
Over time, Retake will assume 100% of responsibility for elections and writing about politics, candidates, and campaigns, while Rethink will be our community education arm, writing about the issues and educating legislators and the public. Part of the balancing act involves a good understanding of the subtle differences between educating on issues and lobbying on bills.
We will keep you posted, but this will take some time. For me (Paul) the part that I am happiest about is that this means that our work will continue long after Roxanne and I run out of fuel. But to get to a point where we are ready to recruit and develop a board and staff and have a written plan to govern both, we have some serious thinking to do and work to complete. But we’ve cleared the first hurdle! Onward!
2022 General Election Endorsements & Actions
I suspect that most of you may have bookmarked our 2022 General Election Endorsements to review when early voting begins. It would be a mistake to wait until then, as most of you already know who to vote for and the most important feature of the Endorsements page is assessing essential races where a bit of help from you and others might lead to an important win. Whether you live in Las Cruces, Silver City, Taos, ABQ, Los Alamos, or Santa Fe, there are legislative races a short drive from home, where a day or two of canvassing might be the crucial difference, and there are newspapers to write letters to. You can amplify your voice and magnify your impact by using our Guide to Writing Letters to the Editor and submitting letters to educate your community about issues that are being discussed in the election.
Gun Violence Prevention & a Plan for the Legislature
Weds., July 13, 6-7:30 p.m. TONIGHT!!! It’s not too late to register.
With Miranda Viscoli, co-president of New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence, and student activist Janae Martinez, we will have a deep discussion about gun violence prevention, what we want from the legislature in 2023, and advocacy strategies to achieve it. We will identify messaging we should use (and messaging we should avoid) this summer to prepare for 2023. This will be an important learning opportunity to become informed and engaged in this vital work. You will leave with a clear idea of the goal, the strategy, and what you can do now. Register here. You must register to attend.
Modernizing Our Legislature: Paid Staff, Longer Sessions, Paid Legislators: Weds., July 27, 6-7:30 p.m.
We will be joined by Representatives Angelica Rubio (Las Cruces) and Kristina Ortez (Taos), activist Ricann Bock of Indivisible Santa Fe, and Cara Lynch, co-founder of Legislative Momentum. There is a strong movement among a group of ten Democratic women state House members to reform the New Mexico legislature with longer sessions, paid staff assigned to each legislator, and paid legislators. We are the only state that doesn’t pay our legislators! Our panelists will explain why this reform is needed, how differently the legislature could function, and the different legislative strategies required to achieve the full package. Please join the conversation and learn how you can help pass legislation in 2023 that will help our legislature become more efficient, more effective, and more equitable. Register here. You must register to attend.
Guaranteed Basic Income: An Initiative Whose Time has Come
Give away money? No strings attached? That sounds crazy; so crazy, just the idea conjures immediate and unfounded objections. In truth, Universal Basic Income (UBI) has been demonstrated to achieve impressive outcomes while rebutting fears that if you give people money they will cease seeking work and live off the public trough. UBI is a program that doesn’t target specific populations to receive income supplements, it is given universally. But more often, especially in the U.S., you find a variation on the UBI theme: Guaranteed Basic Income (GBI). GBI targets specific populations to examine if a time-limited infusion of income can help that population advance on a path to self-sufficiency. The premise is that desperate people will do anything to escape their poverty, even taking extremely low paying, unstable jobs to achieve the most modest, short-term relief. The idea is that if a GBI helps people achieve some semblance of financial security, they will be better able to decline desperation employment and perhaps venture to enroll in training that could offer a career with benefits instead of minimum wage, dead-end employment that may offer some short-term cash, but no long-term sustainable income.
Retake is launching a fact-finding journey to explore how UBI or more aptly, GBI, could create individual, family, and community resilience in NM. Why? Because it works and NM has over 400,000 people living in poverty. If you want to learn more about GBI, take a look at “Universal Basic Income: A Promising Strategy for Addressing Poverty in NM” , a blog we published on March 22, 2022.
We have been working with Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero who wants to pass legislation to conduct GBI pilots in NM. In support of that effort, we’ve been doing research on GBI for some weeks and today will offer info on a nationwide initiative, Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, along with info on a pilot program operating in Santa Fe that is part of the Mayor’s initiative.
Mayors for a Guaranteed Income
Mayors for a Guaranteed Income (MGI) is a nationwide campaign to launch GBI programs in cities across the nation. The overall goal of MGI is to achieve a national guaranteed income program. To achieve this goal, MGI is launching pilots across the nation and evaluating them to demonstrate the power and impact of guaranteed income on a wide range of low-income populations. Each program launched within MGI is somewhat different in terms of the target population selected, the amount of income offered, and the length of time for which income is offered. Each program creates a different narrative that can be used to help policymakers break free of long-held biases that are rooted in American notions of self-sufficiency and the idea that poverty reflects a character flaw since in America, if you work hard, you will achieve success. After all this is the Land of Opportunity. This American myth ignores how the government has routinely given subsidies and supports to help Americans achieve success (Homestead Act, unemployment, GI Bill, home loan subsidies). With those supports in place, many Americans, mostly white, achieved a foothold in the economy. MGI offers targeted financial supports to populations that have not historically benefitted from these national supports. As such, MGI offers a learning laboratory to explore what works and in what contexts and a powerful resource for policymakers trying to convince skeptical lawmakers that giving away money unconditionally makes sense.
MGI now is operating in 82 U.S. cities in 29 different states, through which over $200M in direct unconditional relief has been distributed to very different populations. Over the next weeks, we will explore the MGI’s first annual report that reports on early outcomes from these pilots. The following passage is pulled from MGI’s Year I Report. It outlines the importance of changing the national narrative from one in which we live in a Darwinian, capitalist, economy to a more empathic economy that uses national resources to support those in need of support. That is the world I’d like to live in, but to get to that world we need to use narrative to change minds and a culture.
To ensure the numerous pilots across the country are working off a shared understanding of the impact of narrative on this work, we partnered with the narrative experts at the Insight Center to publish the report Why All Guaranteed Income is Narrative Work: Best Practices for Centering Dignity, Race, and Gender in Cash-Based Programs [link below].
Just as the guaranteed income offered to parents through the expanded Child Tax Credit ended, MGI collaborated with ABC and photojournalist Julia Rendleman to show the ongoing effects of the pandemic on everyday Americans still struggling to survive. Rendleman focused on MGI pilot cities of Baltimore and Richmond for the project.
As part of MGI’s narrative work, we partnered with
prolific author Roxane Gay at The Audacity on a writing
project to select five essays or stories on the loose prompt of envisioning the impact of a guaranteed income on society.
The series, titled Essays for a Guaranteed Income, received hundreds of submissions. The five winning pieces tackled a range of issues related to economic security including living with a disability, abusive relationships, and the precarity of life as an undocumented person in America. All the winning stories can be found here [link below]. The series culminated in a conversation Gay hosted for her 316,000 followers on Instagram Live with MGI Founder Michael Tubbs.MGI ANNUAL REPORT 2022
As narrative cannot be separated out from guaranteed income work, it is imperative that anyone building
a pilot understand the significance of the ways in which harmful narratives shape our policy, politics and culture; as well as how we can shift these narratives toward
a positive vision of an economy centered on wellbeing, equity and dignity for all.”
Below is a link to “Income is Narrative Work Best Practices for Centering Dignity, Race, and Gender in Cash-Based Programs” By Jhumpa Bhattacharya, Saadia McConville, Anne Price, Sukhi Samra, Michael D. Tubbs.
Check it out, and let NM’s cultural shift begin.
Project LEAP MGI’s Santa Fe Pilot
The City of Santa Fe’s Learn, Earn, Achieve Program (SF LEAP) is a part of the Mayors for a Guaranteed Income (MGI) Project. It was designed to explore the effect of a guaranteed income on our community by assisting young parents enrolled at Santa Fe Community College (SFCC). The goal of the SF LEAP project is to assist young parents in attaining their educational goals so that they are able to provide a stable income for themselves and their families in the future. The funding is targeting one hundred young parents making less than 200% of the the Federal poverty level (about $34,000 for a family of two or $52,000 for a family of four) enrolled in a certificate or degree program at SFCC.
LEAP is providing $400/month for 12 months to 100 parent students. The first payments were disbursed in October 2021.To implement LEAP, Santa Fe hired three contract workers to help onboard the SFCC student participants. A month long position from early August until early September was employed for helping 25 students understand the project and navigate the potential impact to their public benefits. To accommodate the schedule of the students, evening and weekend hours were required to fully engage the target population.
I will interview LEAP’s program manager later today and, hopefully, begin to access evidence of project impact. But the truth is that most of the MGI pilots are just getting off the ground, so data on impact on participants, their families, and their communities may be a year a way, which points to the critical importance of the narratives being developed, as these narratives represent case studies that capture the human impact of these GBI pilots. Stay tuned.
In Case You Missed It
Here are a few blogs we feel are important and that perhaps you may have missed:
SCOTUS Gone Mad: Strikes Down Roe & NY Gun Law & Ready to Strike Down Gov’t Capacity to Protect Environment (June 26, 2022)
Roe v Wade, gone. Just like that, five males and one woman decided they could control women’s bodies and force them to give birth against their will. Fundamentalist certainty and self-righteousness, so much a part of the American ethos, are threatening to undermine what this country was supposed to be grounded on: personal liberty. Earlier in the week, the Supreme Count struck down NY legislation to restrict the open carry of firearms. And we can expect more from this court, as they likely will soon decide who we can love and who we can marry. Indeed, as reported in Saturday’s NY Times The Morning, Clarence Thomas explicitly stated his intention to ban access to contraception and to remove protections for same-sex marriage and same-sex relationships. And SCOTUS is poised to strike down the government’s ability to regulate our environment. Click here to review.
Between Now & November: Protect Our State, the Bad Guys are Coming (July 5, 2022)
Mark Ronchetti may not be a Texas Republican, but we all need to be wary of the threat posed by Ronchetti, who in the most recent poll was trailing by just 3%, 47-44%, ESSENTIALLY A STATISTICAL TIE. What’s more, due to redistricting, many previously “safe” legislative districts are now in play, and with legislative races sometimes coming down to 30-40 votes, you can influence those races. Finally, on a national level there is a midterm of monumental import. Today we report on how you can influence these critical elections. This post includes our strategy for voter activism to impact NM and US races, between now and November. A must read, if you missed it. Click here to review
Christian Nationalism on the March (July 9, 2022)
The focus of this post is on the frightening and rapidly expanding growth of a far right, Christian Nationalism that is sweeping the nation with subtle variations on the theme erupting everywhere. If we thought undermining Roe v. Wade was the goal, this post points to its being just the starting line in a race to a Taliban-like theocracy. A worthy read. Click here.