When I was studying about roses, one of the books I read quoted a great rosarian as saying, "If you feed them and spray them and baby them, you'll get gorgeous roses. And if you neglect, them you'll get gorgeous roses. Because, after all, they are just glorified brambles."
What if the USA was so rich in resources, both "natural" and human ingenuity, that people have been able to make vast fortunes even doing all the wrong things? What if they have been doing well in business in spite of their policies instead of because of them? what if what they have been teaching in business schools is all wrong, and it just never really mattered until now? Now that we are running out of cheap energy, running out of an educated and motivated population, running out of hope?
What if the way they are doing business in other countries, those social-democracies in Europe for instance, is really a better way to do it? And we just never noticed that we could be doing a lot better if we based what we do on different theories?
We are going to be offering a workshop at District Assembly on worker-owned cooperatives. I will do the introduction, my partner will do the next part, and Kasper will talk about actual real-live worker owned cooperatives that exist in the Bay Area right now. Here is the text of my introduction:
- My name is Kim, and I am a life-long UU and a member of UUs of SM.
- In 1776 we, the American People, changed the world. We decided that our new government would not be just another monarchy like all the rest, ruled by hereditary rulers of wealth and privilege. We decided we wanted to try to run our country with The People being sovereign. Now, it is time for us to complete what we started in 1776 and make business democratic too.
- History goes in cycles and we are at a time of great change. We need to grab the change and make it go in a positive direction rather than negative. Today’s young people are of a practical mind, and if we join with them to do it, we can direct the next big step toward life, liberty, and the common good.
- Right now, Humpty-Dumpty economics is what our government appears to be doing, which is picking up the broken financial system and putting it back together again as it was, so that nothing much has changed and we will have to go through this Depression thing again in another eighty years. The current form of Capitalism is based on feudalism and oligarchy, on what could be called Wealthism. It is a system where money is more important than people, and we just go along with the idea that people who already have money should find it easier to make more money than people who don’t. We go along with the idea that shareholders, who contribute almost nothing to a business, should vote in that business, but the workers, who contribute almost everything, shouldn’t have a vote. We go along with the idea that stockholders deserve first dibs at the profit and that workers, who make the profit, should get as little of it as possible: we continue to look at stockholders as assets and workers as expenses, when the reality is that the workers are the biggest assets a business has, while stockholders are a major expense. We are overdue for a whole revolution in how we think about modern business. We need a form of Capitalism suitable for a stable society rather than a frontier society, something sustainable that lifts everyone who is willing to work, not just those who already have money.
- Since UUs are dedicated to Justice, which necessarily includes Economic justice, this is a topic we should be studying and understanding, because there IS something we can do about it.
- Capitalism can evolve into a new form. It’s not just a choice between capitalism and socialism, there are other ways to run capitalism that put the workers and the community first. By changing the way the market is run, we can evolve without needing to plead with the government to lead that change. The first thing you can do is to vote with your pocketbook. But that’s just the first thing.
- And here to talk to you today about what is happening now, and what more you can do are
- Joyce, Kaspar, and Dave. Joyce is my partner and a member of UUs of San Mateo, and Kasper and Dave are members of the Network of Bay Area Worker Cooperatives, or NoBAWC,.