The following is a transcript of the video above, from our webinar “Remaking the Economy: How to Change Our Stories about the Economy.” View the full webinar here.)

Peggy Bailey: One of the big challenges with how things work here in DC is that we think of things as very siloed. And we’re very program focused, and in bringing together our housing and income work, what we’re trying to do as a team is disrupt that and center people.

People need more resources to be able to pay for the things that they need. And that shouldn’t be program specific. And doing things the way that we’ve traditionally done them, by focusing only on programs, breaks people apart. It makes people have to fit into a box. And it’s not…putting the power in the person. Instead, it’s putting the power in the government systems and structures that currently exist.

And what we’re trying to do is go on this path toward justice, toward how do we orient our work every day toward…a just future, rather than not being able to dream and think and live in a liberation space, where we do expect for a just future to exist.

And I feel really strongly about that, because, as we’ve traditionally talked about equity, it never sat with me right. Well, what are we moving toward? We’re moving toward a world where people are just equally worse off? Like, that just doesn’t seem to be where we’re supposed to be going.

I don’t know how we all feel about incrementalism, but it creates, like, indigestion for me.”

And so our orientation toward justice, and all of us here being oriented toward justice, really has energized me about what we’re here to try to do.

And not only are we thinking about this here at the Center [for Budget and Policy Priorities] from a housing and income space, but we have staff that are leading the entire organization through a justice-oriented framework to give us the tools to think about how we approach our work with justice in mind.

So, for example, thinking about…I don’t know how we all feel about incrementalism, but it creates, like, indigestion for me. But that’s the way things get done in DC. So, how do we think about that—and instead, apply a justice lens—even if we’re only making small changes? Because sometimes what happens is our egos get wrapped up in those small changes. And we think any small change is a win when that is not the case.

Oftentimes, we do incremental things that actually disrupt our ability to be able to get to justice. And we say, well, since justice is so far out, or justice isn’t possible, then it doesn’t matter, we just need to take this win in the near term.

And that can’t happen anymore. We have to be able to orient our day-to-day work, even if it’s small, on a path to justice, and make those hard choices in this near term that sometimes we have to make in order to adhere to that principle of justice and not take the easy win. Or, if we do take the easy win, acknowledge what we’ve done, because now we’ve created another thing that has to be undone.