This episode discusses the positive and negative ways money and politics connect and the means to organize money through politics so it serves human flourishing. Democratic politics has always involved a struggle to ensure money serves people rather than people serving money. The paradox is that, to do so, democratic politics necessities not just organizing people, but also organizing, or better, re-organizing money. The conversation in this episode about organizing money has two sides to it. The first is how to hold dominant centers of economic power - whether in the market or the state - accountable for the use and distribution of that power. The second is how to fundraise to pay for the work of doing democratic politics in ways that are independent of patronage by either the state or the wealthy. This second aspect of the discussion focuses on the difference between 'hard' money that is raised from members, and 'soft' money that comes from grants and foundations, and the tensions between them.
Janet Hirsch is a leader with the IAF affiliate One LA through her participation in her synagogue, Temple Isaiah where she is the Vice President of Social Justice and sits on the Executive Committee of the Temple Isaiah Board. She has been involved in One LA for over 12 years, leading campaigns on public education, immigration reform, increasing access to mental health services, the expansion of the California earned income tax credit, and most recently, a Covid-19 equity vaccination pilot in South Los Angeles. Janet was born in Zimbabwe but has lived in Los Angeles since 1987.
Joe Rubio is a senior organizer with the West/Southwest Industrial Areas Foundation and supervises IAF Projects in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas where he has organized around public education, workforce training, and immigration. He also leads a regional effort called Recognizing the Stranger, which is developing immigrant leadership in 19 metropolitan areas in the Western US. He has been with the IAF since 1992, working in San Antonio, El Paso, and Arizona and now lives in Tempe, Arizona.
Resources for Going Deeper
Julie Nelson, Economics for Humans (University of Chicago Press, 2006);
Kate Raworth, Doughnut Economics: 7 Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2017);
Sarah Lange, “Crafting an Effective Fundraising Strategy for Community-Based Organizations (CBOs),” Roots to Power: A Manual for Grassroots Organizing, 3rd edn (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2016), 400-415;
Kim Klein, Fundraising for Social Change, 6th edn (Jossey-Bass, 2011);
Luke Bretherton, “Economy,” Christ and the Common Life: Political Theology and the Case for Democracy (Eerdmans, 2019). A theological analysis of the issues discussed.