While Renata's campaign website (cached) and press statements relay a reassuring tone to assure the public that she's grounded in the traditions and common sense of a free market and downright jazzed about the ability of the Port to invigorate the local economy, her rhetoric and slogans fail to reveal the full ideology that predominates her “Collaborative Economy Catalyst” website and her “5 Keys” promotional brief.
It's significant that beyond her campaign site, Renata writes about wanting “a new life in which connection and collaboration matter more than anything else." That begs the question: Which connections and what kinds of collaboration does Renata have in mind for the Port? A little searching revealed that she's tied-in tight with BALLE and Sustainable Connections, and a private investment group known as WIN (Whatcom Investment Network). The first two are highly ideological and the third seems more than a little secretive about its operations.
So... Renata waxes big on communal ("community") resource-sharing strategies, like “in kind” exchanges of goods and services, suggesting that collaborative transactions are somehow better and more satisfying than trading in cash. Sure, sometimes swapping goods and services makes sense (and it generally isn't taxable*). But often times you, or the person you want to do business with, won’t have anything that you want to exchange tit-for-tat. That's why trading with currency has long been considered a major advance beyond tribal economics. Cash (currency) is a token for trading-at-will that liberates one to obtain the goods or services that you do want. And with cash, you have a method of counting and saving, for measuring success, and keeping things straight. Without a means of measurement there can be no real accountability. A cash economy offers flexibility and vast opportunities; reverting to more primitive standards is regressive.
After eschewing cash, Renata then goes completely off the rails and celebrates a flaky transaction using Life Dollars. Micro-brew currency might be fine for a commune or a small subculture, but it seems odd that a serious contender for public office would be quite so uncritical about it.
Why are WE telling you this? We're concerned that Renata will bring some risky, untested and bizarre ideas to the Port, most particularly the collectivist agenda driven by her affiliations with Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) and Sustainable Connections. These groups have been holding and promoting workshops led by Renata for quite some time; one was held just last week. What services Whatcom Investing Network (WIN) provides as a "local lending network" we don't know, but Renata describes it glowingly in cash terms:
"I participated in the creation of a local lending network that grows our local economy by making sure small businesses have access to capital they need, right in our community. In its first year, we loaned out over a half million dollars."
[Documents forwarded to the Vator reveal that WIN’s investment operations have been under review by the State of Washington’s Department of Financial Institutions for about a year. Check out WIN’s long trail of evasive tap-dancing here, and here, and here.]
BALLE? Like Sustainable Connections, BALLE blatantly pushes a globalist-collectivist agenda, with tentacles that reach well beyond local, despite the “localist” community-building image they promote. Their objective is to change the world, evidently without bothering with the consent of the people. How presumptuous is that? (Very.) All this would be academic if its collaborators weren't itching to get mitts on a hefty lever of power, to shift things into some other gear.
The Port of Bellingham has a budget of $40-50 million annually (in greenbacks), and it’s not a social club or an agent for social change. It’s a public service agency that’s supposed to perform practical functions and provide uniform service. Git ‘er done, not change the world.
So WE think it's important for everyone to know what principles motivate the candidates running for this public office, and we think Renata's beliefs about society and the “new normal” are being soft-pedaled. WE have to ask:
- Renata claims that she’s bringing ivy-league credentials in economics and a rich history of Wall Street experience to her candidacy. But then she says she’s rejected all that, to achieve a "new American dream". Which Renata would we get if she were elected, and which principles would she employ in office?
- Does she feel that the people should control and define their government, or the opposite? She’s a relative newcomer (so new some would even say a carpetbagger). She wants this important seat for what reason?
- Renata speaks of alternative currency and relying on "connections". Would that limit the opportunities of the people that she and her affiliates don't connect with? Would the unconnected find themselves on a less than level playing field, unwelcome? Will collectivist (oops - collaborative) political litmus tests be added to Port policies?
- Renata seems to prefer a cashless economy for many things. Would her brand of “collaborative" economics overlap into the use of public resources? Without dollars and cents accountability and auditability, all sorts of mischief can go undetected. That's the opposite of the kind of transparency in government that informed citizens want and demand. How will Renata's tenure be audited? Will she faithfully follow standard accounting rules, or side-step them as WIN seems to?
- Are the “connections” of which Renata speaks tantamount to crony socialism, crony capitalism, or just plain favoritism? Without accountability, how would we be able to evaluate that?
Are WE deliberately spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) here? You bet we are, and rightly so! And it will remain so, until the candidate answers such questions to everyone's satisfaction.
*an interesting dichotomy for those statist, illiberal control freak 'progressives', who never saw an expanding government bureaucracy they didn't like. Who will pay for it, if all the collectivists in their little communes are trading goods and services in kind, under the table and below the government radar? Oh yeah, the One Percenters, that's who.