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From: "Citiscope" <citiwire@citistates.com>
Subject: Neal Peirce on Progressive Taxation, Jon Greenberg on Gross National Happiness
Date: April 19th 2012

"Welcome to Citiwire.net! What a surprise -- Burned by its close ties to the NRA-backed gun law that's associated with Treyvor Martin's killing, ALEC has disbanded its task force responsible for the measure's propagation, almost word for word, to multiple other states. But ALEC pressure to emasculate state budgets, often in the guise of supply-side economics, goes on. This type of pressure to choke vital public investments undermines our national future. … In the meantime, Jon Greenberg, partner in the new Citiscope global news service we hope to launch, writes on the issue of GDP versus measures aimed more at humans' true happiness. "   -- Neal Peirce

Neal Peirce

Progressive Taxation Critical to States’ Futures

By Neal Peirce

Happiness: A Serious Matter for Cities

By Jon Greenberg

For Release Sunday, April 22, 2012
(c) 2012 Washington Post Writers Group

In terms of equity, it's hard to argue with President Obama's call to enact the "Buffett Rule" -- setting an alternative minimum income tax of 30 percent for $1-million-plus earners.

But it's also true: in Washington's multi-trillion dollar budget debates, imposing the rule proposed by financier Warren Buffett would yield just $5 billion a year.

The far greater problem is to combat the argument that reasonable levels of taxes on the affluent somehow quash job-producing investment. It's not just so. As Bill Gates Sr. argues in his foreword to a new book, The Self-Made Myth, by Brian Miller and Mike Lapham (Barrett-Koehler Publishers).

"A quick glance at the past 80 years shows that we have had periods of tremendous economic growth when the top marginal rates were high, putting a lie to the notion that raising taxes in upper income taxpayers will stunt growth."

Then there's the companion myth: that it hardly matters whether government services, ranging from education to infrastructure to public safety, are crippled by budget cuts.

What's alarming today is that the anti-government agenda isn't just being pushed in Washington, where it threatens to fulfill the wildest dreams of Grover Norquist's "never raise taxes" campaign. There's a concerted nationwide effort to sell the same perverse philosophy to state governments. And it's based on the same supply-side economic theory -- once termed "voodoo economics" by President George H.W. Bush -- that reduced taxes automatically spur economic productivity.

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For Release Thursday, April 19, 2012

When the international community gathers to focus on sustainable development this June in Rio de Janeiro, it will take up many daunting challenges. How to create jobs without ruining the world. How to feed 7 billion people without stripping the land and polluting the water. How to find a sustainable balance between the demand and supply of energy. And yes, how to build cities that provide for every inhabitant without massively leaching resources from everywhere else.

At its heart, the quest for sustainable development is a more nuanced quest for growth and woven into the conversations in Rio will be a small but fundamental question: Should we change our yardstick for economic success? For sixty years, the popular shorthand for how any country is doing, the measure that pops up in the news and shapes national policy, has been what we today call GDP, Gross Domestic Product. When GDP rises, life is good. When it falls, life is bad.

The original designers of GDP knew such an interpretation was a gross oversimplification. Today there is a growing chorus that aims to replace, or at least pair it, with an index that is equally rigorous and more comprehensive. That new yardstick of success goes by the unlikely name of Gross National Happiness (GNH).

GNH is a term easily dismissed. While the "pursuit of happiness" might be enshrined in the American Declaration of Independence, in policy circles, the word itself has all the heft of a yellow smiley face. The origins of GNH are equally modest. The idea emerged in 1972 in the tiny kingdom of Bhutan, a primarily Buddhist country squeezed between India and China on the edge of the Himalayas.

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Our mission... to reflect a new narrative for 21st century cities and regions. Leaving behind the 20th century pattern of cheap energy, endless automobility, burgeoning suburbs, threatened inner cities. To a challenge-packed 21st century: energy prices headed north, perilous carbon emissions, deepening have-have not divisions. The weekly release includes Neal Peirce’s column for the Washington Post Writers Group, as well as a guest column by one of the seasoned urban professionals in the Citistates Group.

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