Over the years I’ve bought things from co-operatives, from vegetables to carpet and furniture. It seems like such a great business model – while there is management – the businesses were owned primarily by employees. The employees are working for themselves and having a big stake in looking out for each other. The products were not only priced reasonably, but were better than the products from large corporate concerns. I always wondered why the employee owned business model was not more wide-spread. partly because of the world-wide recession, the co-opt model seems to be growing. Even before the Wall Street melt-down in 2007, no one in the working ranks really wanted the course of their working life – or the end of it, to be determined by corporate CEOs, many of whom might be psychopaths or by leveraged buy-out specialists like Bain and Mitt Romney. Vulture capitalists who, if they saw workers as human beings at all, obviously did not care much how their actions affected others. Wall Street Journal More Interested in Caviar and Foie Gras Than Employee-owned Firms by Gar Alperovitz
Although 2012 was designated by the United Nations as the International Year of the Cooperative — an institution that now has more than one billion members worldwide — the Journal‘s coverage was similarly thin. More than 120 million Americans are members of co-operatives and cooperative credit unions, 30 million more people than are owners of mutual funds. The Journal, however, devoted some 700 articles to mutual funds between January and October and only 183 to cooperatives. Of these the majority were concerned with high-end New York real estate, with headlines like “Pricey Co-ops Find Buyers.”
The vast number of cooperative businesses on Main Streets across the country were discussed in just 70 articles and a mere 14 gave co-op businesses more than passing mention. Together, the articles only narrowly outnumbered the 13 Journal pieces that mentioned the Dom Pérignon brand of champagne over the same time frame, and were eclipsed by the 40 Journal entries that refer to the French delicacy foie gras.
Another democratized economic institution is the not-for-profit Community Development Corporation (CDC), roughly 4,500 of which operate in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Such neighborhood corporations create tens of thousands of units of affordable housing and millions of square feet of commercial and industrial space a year. The Journal ran no articles mentioning CDCs in 2012 and only 43 over the past 28 years — less than two a year. Meanwhile, the word château appeared in 30 times as many articles, and luxury apartments received 300 times as much coverage over the same period.
Not surprisingly, the growing “new economy movement” championing democratization of the economy has itself received even less coverage, despite growing citizen involvement on many levels. Over the past year, major national, state and other conferences focusing on worker-owned companies, cooperatives, public banking, nonprofit and public land trusts, and neighborhood corporations were oversubscribed, reflecting the growing interest in these forms. The Journal, however, gave scant coverage to the movement.
[ ]…In Cleveland, Ohio, for instance, a complex of sophisticated worker-owned firms has been developing in desperately poor, predominantly black neighborhoods. The model is partially structured along lines of the Mondragón Corporation, a vibrant network of worker-owned cooperatives in northern Spain with more than 80,000 members and billions of dollars in annual revenue.
Since 2010 legislation to set up public banks along the lines of the long-established Bank of North Dakota has been proposed in 20 states. Several cities — including Los Angeles and Kansas City — have passed “responsible banking” ordinances that require banks to reveal their impact on the community and/or require city officials to do business only with banks that are responsive to community needs.
Since the WSJ is owned by Rupert Murdoch there is no mystery as to why what is supposed to be the nations’ premier financial reportage outlet is not covering employee owned businesses. Money is political power and the last thing the conservative movement wants is some empowered workers with more control over their lives and economic future. If the average American starts getting uppity and wants more personal empowerment – the radical Right tends to swop in and make sure that power is taken away – ‘It’s Not Just Anti-Union. It’s Anti-Worker.’ NFLPA and MLBPA Join Fight Against Michigan Right-to-Work. The battle here is not just about workers, corporate power and the plutocrats behind it, who spend billions convincing people to buy more poorly made crap or stuff they just don’t need is at stake. With co-operatives workers have a real stake in the quality of their products and service. In corporate culture, the workers is just a clog in the machine. Prices are lower for co-opt products because they’re not paying some corporate zombie millions to sit behind a desk and decide from their mental and emotional cocoon what consumers want, or should need.
H/T to Mike for this video, JFK Defends Government Against the Haters of the Poor and Middle Class. This is not one of Kennedy’s speech’s where he reaches the kind of rhetorical heights of something like his Berlin speech, “Ich bin ein Berliner“. Rather it is more about the nuts and bolts of policy, where of the lives of ordinary Americans meets public policy. At one point he mentions President Lincoln and the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act.
July 2, 1862, was a busy day for President Abraham Lincoln. He dispatched several letters to far-flung military commanders. He held meetings on the war and on the status of fugitive slaves. He also signed three laws, including one banning polygamy in the territories and another creating a loyalty oath for all government officials. The final law Lincoln signed, the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act, putting the federal government in charge of the development of public colleges and universities, not only turned out to be the most important of the three bills he signed but stands as an enduring legacy of his presidency.
The long-germinating land-for-education bill was the brainchild of a self-taught son of a blacksmith, Representative—and later Senator— Justin Smith Morrill of Vermont, a Republican. He believed that the classical education offered at most colleges was incapable of meeting the practical, roll-up-your-sleeves demands of a growing, industrializing nation. ( more of this very well written article at the link)