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A Just Transition Through Participatory Governance with Cindy Banyai
Episode 8726th September 2020 • Macro N Cheese • Steve D Grumbine MS, MBA, PMP, PSM1, ITIL
00:00:00 00:56:35

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Our guest, Cindy Banyai, is exactly the kind of person we want representing us wherever policy is made. She has the life experience of a working woman raising three kids, runs her own consulting business, and has lived and traveled all over the world. Did we forget to mention she knows MMT and supports the Green New Deal, universal health care, and a federal jobs program to ensure a basic minimum wage, worker protections, and benefits? 

When Cindy happened upon Modern Monetary Theory, it made sense of much of what she already believed. She had been a longtime proponent of participatory budgeting and says that being freed from economic shackles in policy-making is revolutionary. When people in her district come with complaints, she can truthfully say she knows what to do. 

She talks with Steve about the conservatives from both parties who place roadblocks in programs like Social Security and then criticize them for having those very complications. They use terms like “accountability,” “efficiency,” and “effectiveness.” Cindy tells us that her consulting firm is all about evaluation:
I eat, sleep, breathe, effectiveness, and efficiency. There is not a single one of these hucksters that's going to be able to put a program in front of me, put a policy in front of me, and say, "We're working on efficiency." If that doesn't have the metrics in it and that doesn't have the right kind of measures to actually get these things accomplished and not just be these stupid barriers for access, then I'm going to call him out on it. And I will probably be the only one doing it. Because I'm going to be the first evaluator elected to Congress.
As parents, Steve and Cindy have a shared, gut-level understanding of the need to fix a broken healthcare system. Cindy’s three-year-old daughter spent her first two years fighting a rare blood disease; while she was in the hospital fighting for her life, Cindy was fighting the insurance companies. She knows that there’s an alternative to medical bankruptcies and treatments determined by somebody else’s bottom line. She has done research and comparative analysis between the Japanese national health care model and the US model. As we move to universal healthcare she wants us to consider adapting features of the Japanese model, including cost-setting by the central government and decentralized implementation at the state level.

One of Steve’s favorite components of the job guarantee is the way in which it is a democracy enhancer. It will revitalize local democracy by having it funded by the currency-issuing federal government but locally administered. Communities will determine which jobs to create based on which services are needed. This is an invitation for citizens to become involved in designing their very own local program. The discussion ignites Cindy’s enthusiasm for rethinking the way that we do governance. She talks about participatory governance - and the participatory budgeting component of it - having been a major component of her life’s work and research around the world. She describes the amplifying effects of civic engagement: people are more invested in their community, they meet their neighbors, some develop joint projects or business ventures together.

We here at Macro N Cheese cannot endorse a specific candidate, but we can urge our listeners to pay attention and ask questions of your future representatives. We hope everyone finds candidates as well-informed and passionate as this one.

Dr. Cindy Banyai is a Democrat running for Florida Congressional District 19, spanning coastal Southwest Florida from Boca Grande to Marco Island. She is a mom of 3 native Floridians, a small business owner, and part of the faculty of Political Science and Public Administration at Florida Gulf Coast University.