Well, don’t I have egg on my face. I glanced through today’s email and noticed that Gar Alperovitz is speaking at THE POLITICS OF LOVE & JUSTICE SUMMIT on Wednesday. Just yesterday I was blathering on that these folks should chat with those folks …
I’ve contacted the Democracy Collaborative about building a coalition in conjunction with my HomeTownHero dinner concept, to bring an actual living example to people’s cities and towns, and to serve as a gathering place for communities to build connections and discuss the new economy and ways to achieve it locally, and when I finally got a response I was told: “The Democracy Collaborative is a small non-profit with a tiny staff and we unfortunately aren’t able to provide direct technical assistance to individual program developers. We view our key contribution to the field as producing research reports…”
But I viewed any response as a positive, and I’m counting that blow-off email as a sign of support. 😉
But you may see my frustration; there are thousands of groups, all collecting money to hold more conferences and do more research, when this money could be used to actually build worker-owned enterprises. Each group is intent on gaining donations to fund more research … Can anybody say, “Charitable-Industrial Complex“?
The facts are in! Employee-ownership is more equitable, even partial employee-ownership, than share-holder only owned firms. It is just, flat-out, A Better Way of Doing Business. But the US government promotes and enforces 100% of profits going to “owners,” or shareholders, meaning the US Gov is consciously funneling funds, all profits, to a minute portion of the populace.
The trick then is how to change the course of this doomed economy. Most current politicians, and citizens, feel that throwing more fuel in this misguided fire is the answer. ‘We just need to dig more to get out of this whole we’ve created.” Meanwhile, he think-tanks say, ‘We will study this more.’
I say we offer investors a new deal, a steady rate of return for financing worker-owned enterprises. (I’m getting that ‘worker-owned enterprise’ lingo from Prof. Wolff and the Democracy at Work website; another think-tank that I will attempt to reach out to very soon …) Maybe even partial ownership, or better yet, non-voting preferred shares.. Bonds and state direct-public-offerings (DPO), combined with everything from grants to crowd funding to worker buy-ins thrown in for good measure, is what needs to be done. (Along with a million other things.)
UPDATE: I listened to Mr. Alperovitz today, and he was as inspiring as always. He mentioned the Cleveland Projects, and the Next Systems Project. Also mentioned that my old boss, Robert Reich, had also signed onto Next System’s statement. Ohh! And then I logged onto the Next Systems launch website, which was OK, but all old hat. I found the “Politics of Love and Justice” more educational because of their ‘religious’ spiritual angles, and the tie-in with business and co-ops and ESOPs.
And I thought Michael Lerner justly called Alperovitz to task on him counting credit unions in the co-op numbers. Michael said he belonged to a CU and he has never noticed a remarkable difference from banks, had never especially felt empowered. Gar responded that CUs are actually democratic, but that many people are unaware and don’t vote. But at least there is the possibility of activism at the annual meeting and voting to alter CU lending policies and such.