Picture it: Neighbors decide to pool their money to invest in the basics their neighborhoods need to survive and thrive. It’s an idea that Cooperative Capital has launched in Detroit to help revitalize abandoned homes, but it’s not exactly a revolutionary idea. It’s taxes; they’ve invented taxes.
The idea is that neighbors each invest a small amount of money and that pool of money is trusted with a group of individuals to spend it on projects that benefit the entire community. Cooperative Capital, according to Fast Company plans to launch these funds all over the U.S.
“A lot of people want to participate in Detroit’s recovery, but unfortunately, they feel that because they’re not a billionaire, millionaire, celebrity or politician, they feel they can’t . . . the real desire was to create a situation where residents were able to come together to collectively invest and build up our community in a way that everyone benefits,” Kwaku Osei, CEO said.
— Fast Company (@FastCompany) April 3, 2018
Here’s an idea, what if we did the same thing for schools, roads and public safety? Cooperative Capital is describing the fundamental American bargain that we all pay a little so that as a collective we can accomplish big stuff: interstate freeways, airports, a space program. But over the past couple of decades the demand from voters and pundits for paying as little as possible has starved our country’s infrastructure and the resources to reach beyond where we are today.
Taxes have become such a political bludgeon and associated with waste and greed that tech companies now have an opening to re-brand the concept and sell it back to us for a fee. Maybe an argument could be made that the private sector could outperform government, but the argument of public versus private control of government functions have been argued by libertarians for decades, with little evidence it’s beneficial.
This idea is reminiscent of other high-tech “inventions” of stuff we already have, like “instant pickup stores” and bodegas that are, in fact, vending machines and the concept of “co-living,” which everyone else just calls a roommate.
But this seems more significant. At a time when basic democratic institutions are under siege, from public education to law enforcement, it would be much better if we all just agreed that paying taxes isn’t just a good investment, it’s the right thing to do. No app, algorithm or code required.
Featured image: Cooperative Captial/YouTube