Lecture Online: "Why Our New President Should Think Local”
The November 5 talk was hosted by the Club's Business and Leadership Forum and was emceed by forum chair Tom Waller.
Begins Shuman, "Ultimately the solution to America's economic crisis, I would argue, lies in solving our community crises. If I were Barak Obama, I would look at today's crises – the big crises he has spent the last two year on the campaign trail arguing about – and see in these crises the seeds of opportunity – opportunities that can only come through the expansion of local business."
He then details the current lack of support for local business, the growth of dozens of Think Local First efforts and the local living economies movement, and the seeds of local business opportunity in the nation's current crises, including rising oil prices, climate change, the shrinking American dollar, and the current financial crisis. Shuman argues that the keys to prosperity reside in the creation and expansion of local businesses.
He says priorities for the new administration should include encouraging Americans to buy local and revamp policies around local entrepreneurship and business alliances.
"Economic development today – what is going on at the grassroots level to create jobs, to create prosperity, to prevent crisis – is largely about the attraction or retention of nonlocal business. This is a terrible mistake," said Shuman. "But it is worthwhile to say that there is an alternative, and that is Think Local First. Local First has been the clarion call of networks of businesses around the United States."
He continues, "It's not just about shopping. It's about taking every element of our economy – the planning, the investment, the building of business networks, the public policy pieces – and retargeting all of that around locally owned business."
Shuman then walks through a recommended Obama public policy agenda that includes leakage data, selective procurement, securities reform, tax credits, and dumping subsidies.
In closing, Shuman notes that "everything I have mentioned to you costs a little bit of money. But it doesn't cost much money. It doesn't cost much money to start meta-businesses that are self-financing, and it doesn't cost much money to change the regulatory approach to securities. It doesn't cost much money to put into effect a very modest tax credit."
"What stands in the way right now," he concluedes, "is we are wasting more than 90 percent of our money on the attraction and retention of nonlocal business. We have to convince President Obama to put an end to that kind of wasteful economic development and focus the dollars, laser-like, on the modest, cheap reforms I have outlined here."
For more information on the Commonwealth Club, visit their website.
To view the full program or chapter installments, including audience questions and answers, visit Fora.tv.