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Everyone CountsCould "Participatory Budgeting" Change Democracy?$
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Josh Lerner

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780801456657

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801456657.001.0001

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The Problems with Potholes

The Problems with Potholes

Chapter:
(p.24) The Problems with Potholes
Source:
Everyone Counts
Author(s):

Josh Lerner

Publisher:
Cornell University Press
DOI:10.7591/cornell/9780801456657.003.0005

This chapter addresses the issue of whether participatory budgeting (PB) in the US would repeat the same pattern from Brazil—by being a “pro-poor” program, in which poor people participated more often and won more funding. For the first few years in the US, the answer was a definite maybe; poor people in the US did not flock to PB. Unlike the favelas (shantytowns) of Brazil in which basic infrastructure improvements funded by PB are a top priority, streets in the US are already paved, and fixing potholes is a middle-class concern. Instead of satisfying basic needs, PB has often provided an outlet for creativity, such as underpass murals, artistic bike racks, and dog parks. PB is not inherently pro-poor in the United States, but it can inspire altruistic voting on behalf of projects that benefit other communities.

Keywords:   participatory budget, US PB process, Brazil, pro-poor program, middle-class, altruistic voting

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