Organizational Capacity Building

Candace LaRue and Associates

Charlotte Khan – data in the context of national and global trends live blog post #CICSUMMIT

on November 15, 2012

Local communities are operating in a global context, and it is important to include that context in our understanding of what is occurring at the local level.

There is an unprecedented rate of change right now, with, for example, population growing more rapidly than ever before. The majority of population growth is in Asia and Africa.

Another important trend is automation in technological change. Today 3 billion people are chasing 1.2 billion jobs, making educational attainment even more important to “outrun robots and computers.”

In 2010, a report came out on global reading scale scores. The USA was 17th, but unpacking by race and ethnicity, White and Asian students were towards the top of the list, but Black and Latino students ranked in the 40s. This achievement gap is not acceptable.

How did we get here? Betwee 1947 and 1979, there was broad based prosperity. People at the bottom of the distribution benefited most. Since then, productivity has increased but wages have been essentially flat. Inequality has widened, and people at the top have benefited from growth but people at the bottom have suffered (note – this is partially because gains in productivity from technology are attributed to the capital, owned by the wealthy)

In the last decade, corporate taxes have gone down, profits have gone up, and job growth/creation has been going down. Moreover, the economy has been incredibly volatile with a rapid boom and bust cycle. The US economy is 70% dependent on consumer spending. In 2007, there was record- low savings and record high spending. By going to school, getting an education, and buying a home, people ended up in debt. When the housing market softened, we fell off an “economic cliff” into the Great Recession. What we need to understand in terms of our communities is that this recession has created a widening of inequality in the nation and in communities. Latinos, Asians, and African Americans have all lost more assets due to the housing bust than Whites.

This last recession has popped a bubble we were all living in, and “nothing will ever be the same again.” We need to be creating new jobs that will create sustainable wealth for families.

An example of this “longest bubble” is Health Care, with health care costs going up much faster than wages. And yet, even though we are spending so much on health care, obesity has doubled between 1995 and 2007. Our health outcomes, also, are lagging behind other industrialized countries, including life expectancy. Health care spending is also crowding out other investment – health care costs rose 75% in the MA budget from 2010-2011. We are waistline about 1/3 of health care expenditures on unnecessary or harmful health care expenditure – in MA, eliminating that expense would more than make up for the Budget Gap.

The US has the highest level of income inequality and lowest mobility rate among our peers.

In comparison with our wealthy developed peer nations, Americans are: the most personally indebted, incarcerated, unequal, obese, pay the most for health care, most energy, least inter generational mobility.

The young population is increasingly made up of people of color. If we don’t fix achievement gaps, we are in trouble. Cities in the Us are increasingly vulnerable to climate change, such as flooding an drought.

We need new ways of working. We need shared indicators, regional alignment on charged goals and a civic agenda. We need to use open source data analysis and visualization software, such as Weave, so we can communicate data to our communities and take advantage of the open data movement. We need to help our communities to put data together in such a way that the data can give them a handle on what is happening and traction on what the solutions can be.

Please note: these are my notes from her presentation, not my own opinion (except for where I started the statement with “note:”)


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