Municipal Public Banking
This briefing explores how deliberative democracy may be used for public finance and investment.
To pursue a model of finance that breaks with neoliberalism, the Municipal Bank of Los Angeles (MBLA) must be democratically run. It is not enough to make the bank answerable to public representatives. Forms of active citizen deliberation must be integrated into its processes, in order to acknowledge deep and persistent inequalities in the city of Los Angeles. A board of governors will handle operational divisions, like at any bank. Two other institutions must be set up: people’s assemblies and standing commissions.
People’s assemblies are a way to coordinate public deliberation about how to allocate the bank’s investments. Assemblies use random selection or stratified sampling to bring manageably sized groups of residents together to make collective decisions about bank mandates. Unlike voting, which collects an individual’s top-of-mind opinions, people’s assemblies are deliberative and therefore promote discerning judgments. Much like juries, they are filled based on civic duty.