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Yehuda “YJ” Draiman - Candidate for Mayor of Los Angeles 2013 YJ Draiman is the lead elected official for the Northridge East Neighborhood Council – NENC, he is also the liaison between the NENC and LADWP. As an Energy Efficiency Advocate YJ Draiman is known for his advancement in implementing... More
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  • Investing In Training -- Human Capital - "Social Capital" -- Enables One To Become More Productive 4 comments
    Jan 21, 2013 8:25 AM

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    Investing in training -- human capital - "social capital" -- enables one to become more productive - Draiman

    The more civic region has prospered because trust and reciprocity were woven into its social fabric ages ago. None of this would appear in standard economics textbooks, of course, but our evidence suggests that wealth is the consequence, not the cause, of a healthy civics.
    An important moral emerges. Economists often refer to physical capital. A screwdriver is a form of
    physical capital: By investing in a screwdriver, one becomes more productive. About 45 years ago, the economist Gary Becker used the term "human capital" to refer to the fact that education can have the same effect. Investing in training -- human capital -- enables one to become more productive.

    Some social scientists are beginning to speak of "social capital" -- networks and norms of civic engagement. Conversely, in some modern countries -- in our own urban ghettoes and in our suburbs, for example -- the last several decades have witnessed a silent erosion of social capital. There are more empty seats at PTA meetings and church masses, for example, and
    fewer of us spend time on public affairs -- particularly political activities. Compared with earlier generations, we are less engaged with one another outside the marketplace and thus less prepared to cooperate for shared goals. This decline in social capital helps explain the economic and political troubles of our own democracy.

    If we lack social capital, how can we create more? The reform-minded president of one of the backward regions once posed this tough dilemma to me. After dinner one evening, he complained, "What you seem to be telling me is that nothing I can do will improve my region. Our fate was sealed hundreds of years ago." This is a central conundrum of our time: How can we invest in social capital?
    There is no simple reply, but every serious public official or community activist in America must address the question today. Investments in our nation's portfolio of social capital must occur at the local level.

    A concluding example -- dramatizes this point.
    In many neighborhoods, recent immigrants from the countryside live amid social disorganization and crime. In the last few years, however, one such neighborhood has earned a reputation for being safer and more pleasant, even though its residents are no more affluent. This fortunate area somehow has achieved a strong sense of neighborhood solidarity. For example, nearly every resident has bought a football referee's whistle, and if a thief is spotted, everyone blows his whistle to alert his neighbors. The neighborhood has also taken up a collection to buy a local siren and set up a telephone network. If a local widow, for example, becomes distressed at night, one phone call suffices to set off the siren and summon help. This neighborhood-alert system has cut robberies dramatically -- from roughly two a week to roughly one a year.
    What makes this neighborhood different? The founder of the neighborhood association has a simple answer: -- "The Law of the Greeting." When the association was formed a few years ago, its members agreed that everyone would leave for work five minutes early every morning to have the time to say "hello" to each of his neighbors. This informal norm soon built ties of friendship and mutual solidarity among the previously anonymous residents of the neighborhood. Once those ties were established, it was relatively easy to agree on practical crime-fighting steps.
    As the relative tranquility of this neighborhood has become more widely known, people from other neighborhoods have visited to inquire into the secret of their success. "When we tell them about ~The Law of the Greeting,' reports the association's founder, "they smile dismissively and ask us where we got the whistles, or how we got a government grant for the siren." These inquirer's are, of course, missing the point: The key to collective action is not physical capital, but social capital.

    "The Law of the Greeting" represents investment in social capital at its very simplest.
    Solving America's social problems requires much more than a national "Law of the Greeting," but that is not a bad metaphor for the actions, public and private, that are needed. To revitalize our democracy we shall need to begin by rebuilding social capital in our communities, by renewing our civic connections.

    YJ Draiman

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    Author’s reply » The democratic process relies on the assumption that citizens (the majority of them, at least) can recognize the best political candidate, or best policy idea, when they see it. But a growing body of research has revealed an unfortunate aspect of the human psyche that would seem to disprove this notion, and imply instead that democratic elections produce mediocre leadership and policies.
    21 Jan 2013, 08:30 AM Reply Like
  • jdraiman
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    Author’s reply » Money should not have to get in the way of making someone’s passion a reality. And in this era of social media and group buy websites, it doesn’t have to. Why? Because we can harness the power of something called “social capital”. Before we dive further into the definition of social capital, let’s go back to the topic of traditional sources of financing for a second. Relatively speaking, with the traditional methods there are just a few sources of capital, but plenty of small businesses that require funding. The odds of getting financing can sure look slim sometimes, especially when everyone’s knocking on the same door to get it! But what if the tables can be turned? What if (again, relatively speaking) there were a few small businesses looking for a loan, but plenty of potential financers available? All of a sudden there are thousands of potential doors to knock on!

     

    You probably have a good idea by now, but we’ll pose the question anyways…..what exactly is social capital? Social capital is the value that exists through your personal network. Value can be obtained through the people you know, and the people they know and so on. If a project owner can earn the support of, say, a few hundred people who each provide a small sponsorship amount, collectively they have the potential to raise as much funds as a business loan from a single bank! This is an example of a benefit from social capital, and it’s one of the major factors that can make a Springboard project succesful.
    21 Jan 2013, 08:34 AM Reply Like
  • jdraiman
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    Author’s reply » Several dimensions of social capital have been identified:

     

    Social participation e.g. Number of cultural, leisure, social groups belonged to and frequency and intensity of involvement; Volunteering - frequency and intensity of involvement
    Empowerment e.g. People have skills to contribute to community activity; People have increased confidence to participate in community activity; People connect and network with other people and organisations within the community
    Civic participation, e.g. Perceptions of ability to influence events; Contact with public officials or political representatives; Involvement with local action groups; Propensity to vote
    Social networks and social support, e.g. Frequency of seeing/speaking to relatives /friends/neighbours; Extent of virtual networks and frequency of contact; Perceived control and satisfaction with life; Exchange of help
    Reciprocity and trust / Connectedness, e.g. Trust in other people who are like you; Trust in other people who are not like you; Doing favours and vice versa; Perception of shared values
    Views of the local area, e.g. Views on physical environment; Facilities in the area; Enjoyment of living in the area; Fear of crime
    21 Jan 2013, 09:29 AM Reply Like
  • jdraiman
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    Author’s reply » Social capital and health
    There is increasing interest in the links between social capital and health and well-being and its role in addressing health inequalities.

     

    People with high levels of social capital are generally happier, have better mental health, lower mortality rates, and are less likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease and stroke than similar individuals with low levels of social capital.

     

    Social capital can also be beneficial for health in terms of:

     

    Furnishing tangible material assistance which in turn reduces stress.
    Reinforcing healthy norms and behaviors.
    Lobbying effectively for improved health services.
    Interaction in / with social networks may stimulate the body’s immune system. (Putnam, 2000, p.326).
    Community Health Champions and Social Capital
    There is a rising interest in the mechanisms that may be seen to build social capital, in particular, community development approaches to health improvement. The Altogether Better Program uses an empowerment approach that is already showing an impact on social capital in communities
    21 Jan 2013, 09:32 AM Reply Like
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