Category Archives: Uncategorized

End of the Middle Class?

I noticed an article in the Huffington Post this morning from a visiting professor at Princeton University, Steven Strauss, who wrote that there are essentially two kinds of jobs: wage slaves and micro entrepreneurs. The former is the traditional job in which you are employed by some business owner while the later is where you are an independent contractor. Strauss points out that being a wage slave is bad enough, but it’s worse for independent contractors or micro entrepreneurs. True enough! Independent contractors have no benefits of any kind. Want to take a vacation? No problem but don’t expect to get paid time off. Get sick? Fine, don’t work. Don’t get paid either. He concludes that maybe being a wage slave isn’t so bad after all.

I don’t know about you, but I personally am fed up with my only choices being “bad” and “worse.” There is a third approach as regular readers of my blog know very well. It is cooperatism.  With cooperatives these wage slaves or independent contractors or unemployed people can band together and form a cooperative enterprise. In such an enterprise they are both employees and employers. They keep all the profits for themselves, make up the rules, maintain the books, and manage the place. They become real entrepreneurs. Furthermore, they can reduce their expenses by sharing it with all members. And, by doing the work themselves, they have no separate expense for labor.

People in cooperatives make more money than those simply on their own and it costs far less to start a cooperative than a business where you are the sole proprietor. So if you love your job but hate working for peanuts while you help someone else to grow rich, then band together and create your own business–a cooperative enterprise.

 

 

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Banning Homelessness–For Real!

Fort Lauderdale is banning sleeping in public and panhandling on busy intersections, according to ThinkProgress.org. Prior to this, the city outlawed personal possessions in public places. The punishment for violating the ordinance is loss of possessions, $500 fine and six months in jail.

While we pilgrims agree that homelessness is obscene in such a rich country as ours and it does erode neighborhoods and businesses, but we make a bad situation worse by criminalizing this. What should the city do? Create beds and shelter people who find themselves homeless. It shouldn’t be a crime to be poor.

New Study Shows Income Gap Widening

According to the Study of Consumer Finances the wealthiest three percent of households controlled over half the nation’s wealth. Furthermore, according to the University of California, Berkeley 95% of the income gains from 2009 to 2012 went to the top 1% of the population. This comes from Buzz Flash. Read the article here.here.

What do you suppose the answer to inequality is? You guessed it — cooperatism. Preserve all the benefits of capitalism: entrepreneurship, open market, strong middle class; without the weaknesses: inequality, lost competition; dominance of the few over the many. Let me know what you think.

Wage Theft

Wage theft is soaring according to NYTimes.com. An increasing number of businesses are failing to pay for overtime, making labor work off the clock, or calling them independent contractors, according to the New York Times. This type of behavior would not exist if labor formed cooperatives. They would be the owners and would make their own decisions regarding wages and overtime. Stand up to wage theft and join a cooperative.

Employee Shoots Boss, then Himself

In a sad story from USA Today an IT employee, recently demoted, shot and killed his boss and then killed himself. While homicide is not a normal reaction to firings or demotions the life alteration for the employee is highly stressful. I mention this story because in a cooperative no one is fired, laid off, demoted or punished in any way without the say of all the employees in the cooperative. It is why it is the best form of legal business organization there is. No one person should have the power to make life-altering decisions.

Paul Ryan claims expertise over the poor

The Huffington Post article, “Paul Ryan Makes New Poverty Pitch” written by Arthur Delaney, makes an eerie suggestion as to how we can fight poverty. After enunciating his hatred for government solutions he came up with his own government solution–reducing all poverty programs into one and letting the states decide how to implement it. Here’s what Ryan had to say.

“The big idea in Ryan’s plan would be to consolidate most of the federal government’s anti-poverty programs, such as food stamps and housing vouchers, into one program that states could oversee and coordinate more closely. Ryan’s “Opportunity Grant” would be voluntary — states that want to try it could submit their own plan, so long as it includes “work requirements” for the able-bodied poor.”

This is precisely what the government did in my novel Take the Pilgrim Road. They rolled all poverty programs into one program so it would be easier to manipulate them, and finally to get rid of them.Take the Pilgrim Road. They rolled all poverty programs into one program so it would be easier to manipulate them, and finally to get rid of them.

CNN Calls Out Democrats Over Inequality

CNN’s Julian Zelizer’s article calls into question President Barack Obama’s commitment to inequality. After calling inequality the defining issue of our time, he’s had surprisingly little to say about it since then. Democrats, as a whole, have had few things to say about this, except for Elizabeth Warren, the only real progressive potential presidential candidate out there.

How do we fight inequality? The ideas most progressives come up with are increases in the minimum wage, higher taxes on the 1%, and support for unions. I say that while we need to raise the minimum wage, support a tax system that taxes the wealthy more than their secretaries, and full support for labor unions, none of them will affect inequality. Raising the minimum wage helps people; support for higher taxes on the wealthy helps pay for infrastructure and school buildings;  and support for unions helps individuals with their fight to remain in the middle class or to enter it. What they don’t do is address the fundamental root of inequality. Inequality occurs because of the corporatist system in America. In a corporate system the emphasis is on enriching the shareholders. That’s it. There’s no obligation to see workers as assets. The solution is to raise awareness of cooperatives, and provide support for people trying to develop a cooperative workplace.

Cooperatives erode income inequality because there is no profit to be sucked up by outside interests; no ruler to determine the future of any of its employees; and no exclusion of employees from the decision-making process. Instead, members of the cooperatives not only do the work, but they participate in the decision-making process, and decide how surplus capital is to be used. There is no one sucking up this surplus capital to pay off shareholders and executive management.

Progressives! It is time to think about cooperatives as the real solution to inequality in America. I support a higher income, I support unionization, and I support a progressive income tax, but to grow the middle class we must think cooperatives.