Saturday, January 11, 2014
"Promise Zones" -- More of the Same Failed Neo-Liberal Policies
The Obama administration has finally acknowledged a poverty problem in the United States. On the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, the issue is getting the attention it deserves. Unfortunately, the policy proposals to address the problem are not up to the task.
On Wednesday President Obama announced his Promise Zone initiative designed to direct federal resources to a number of targeted communities in need of economic development. But the Promise Zone program looks a lot like the old ‘enterprise zone” idea that was introduced back in the 1980s that had very little success. Like the old models, it will depend on tax breaks and incentives to lure businesses and investment. And, according to the New York Times report, it would not provide any new money but rather “aid in cutting through red tape to get access to existing resources.” There is no evidence to support the efficacy of this approach to economic development, job creation, or poverty reduction.
As stated in an earlier post on anti-poverty programs in Jacksonville, the Community Wealth initiative would represent an alternative with the primary purpose of developing, creating, and nurturing community-based wealth-building institutions that serve and are controlled by the local community and its residents. This would be preferable to the supply-side oriented policy that uses tax breaks, incentives, and low wages to lure businesses into depressed communities.
The Promise Zones look like nothing more than a continuation of the neo-liberal models that rest on deregulation, privatization, and cheap labor to stimulate private investment. A huge disappointment, but consistent with past administration policies.