25 criticism that make your participatory budgeting vulnerable

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Every participatory budgeting has complaints. Some are softer than others. Some are more rational others more passionate.

But, you must be ready for all and learn how to avoid them. Or least have a good counter argument.

Yes, some are your own fault! Simple: don’t let them happen.

This list is based on “Participatory Budgeting: Arguments Pro and Con” by Tim Bonnemann, Founder and CEO of Intellitics, Inc., a digital engagement startup based in San José, CA. I’ve added a few others based on our experience.

Learn them by heart.

They will appear as a natural result of valid concerns from citizens and politicians.

Don’t avoid them, but be prepared. You will build a stronger participatory budgeting process.

Your anticipation will help build a more transparent and trust worthful process.

  1. That’s the elected official’s job
  2. Not enough % of budget allocated
  3. There’s no money
  4. They are taking money out of investment to play around
  5. They don’t know what to do with the money
  6. The process will be co-opted
  7. The overhead costs for doing participatory budgeting are too high
  8. It’s not an equitable or fair process
  9. Someone will change the vote as befit them
  10. There is no way to control who votes in a secure way. So there will be someone to cheat the system
  11. It’s already being done
  12. They only listen to those they want
  13. They listen to people that don’t contribute to society as much as I do
  14. It’s not the government’s job to pay for these types of improvements
  15. It’s a way to decrease public investment
  16. Participatory budgeting is a means to achieve voter buy-in for tax increases
  17. Participatory budgeting is a means to buy people’s vote for next election
  18. Voter turn-out is too low
  19. Our citizens don’t want to get involved in the way you planned your participatory budgeting
  20. The ideas are always the same
  21. The ideas are always of low impact and most are stupid (?! … yes, I’ve heard this one myself)
  22. The process gives people a false sense of hope
  23. The participatory budgeting process is inefficient
  24. The participatory budgeting process is a way to finance some public servants and their friends
  25. Participatory budgeting doesn’t cover real needs
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One thought on “25 criticism that make your participatory budgeting vulnerable

  1. I received this answers from Ravi Shankar from Vallejo-PB

    1. That’s the elected official’s job >>> yes & no .. they don’t care AS MUCH as YOU!
    2. Not enough % of budget allocated >>> yes, but WE can always ask for MORE.
    3. There’s no money >>> may be, but let’s get CREATIVE, pool wasted monies, cut corners, prioritize…
    4. They are taking money out of investment to play around >>> may be, but let’s present compelling FACTS and URGENCY!
    5. They don’t know what to do with the money >>> not really, we PB folks provide EDUCATION!
    6. The process will be co-opted >>> may or may not…
    7. The overhead costs for doing participatory budgeting are too high >>> yes INITIALLY, but together, we can trim it year by year.
    8. It’s not an equitable or fair process >>> depends on who and what is being looked into. Has our American Democracy been fair and equitable for 200+ years? would you like PB to be MORE just and democratic?
    9. Someone will change the vote as befit them >>> not really… votes are sealed/locked in.
    10. There is no way to control who votes in a secure way. So there will be someone to cheat the system >>> No…it’s been examined by experts at 3-levels.
    11. It’s already being done >>> not really …
    12. They only listen to those they want >>> No…everyone can voice their opinions, concerns and BE A PART OF PB
    13. They listen to people that don’t contribute to society as much as I do >>> may be, but doesn’t it make EVERYTHING BETTER ?
    14. It’s not the government’s job to pay for these types of improvements >>> yes, but PB folks can elect more caring “government folks” like us !
    15. It’s a way to decrease public investment >>> may be, but only to bring special opportunity to every-day citizen like you!
    16. Participatory budgeting is a means to achieve voter buy-in for tax increases >>> not true ——-
    17. Participatory budgeting is a means to buy people’s vote for next election >>> MAY BE only if they BRING GREATER COMMON GOOD !
    18. Voter turn-out is too low >>> yes, that’s often the case — but look at all other elections with 20–30% voting. It can change with your participation, year after year.
    19. Our citizens don’t want to get involved in the way you planned your participatory budgeting >>> often yes, but TOGETHER we can swing that path to work for many.
    20. The ideas are always the same >>> not if you look at every PB projects, year after year. Similar, but not same!
    21. The ideas are always of low impact and most are stupid (?! … yes, I’ve heard this one myself) >>> nothing is stupid than the ones NEVER brought up. Isn’t LOW IMPACT better than NO IMPACT ??
    22. The process gives people a false sense of hope >>> only if false ideas, results, benefits are projected falsely!
    23. The participatory budgeting process is inefficient >>> may be, but it’s up to ALL of us to improve it dramatically !
    24. The participatory budgeting process is a way to finance some public servants and their friends >>> not true, although it appears that way. It is for the common citizen, who doesn’t go to city hall for all other matters.
    25. Participatory budgeting doesn’t cover real needs >>> very untrue — real needs are real proposals that won votes and got funded in Vallejo, Chicago, New York, San Jose, San Francisco, LongBeach, San Diego….. http://www.ParticipatoryBudgetingProject.Org

    Thank you! Please give your inputs and share with others…

    Ravi Shankar,
    Steering Committee Member, Vallejo-PB

    Like

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