Welcome login | signup
Language en es fr
OccupyForum

Forum Post: Let It Bleed: Libertarianism and the Workplace by Chris Bertram

Posted 2 years ago on July 8, 2012, 7:31 a.m. EST by PeterKropotkin (1050) from Oakland, CA
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

“In the general course of human nature, a power over a man’s subsistence amounts to a power over his will.” —Alexander Hamilton, Federalist 79

Libertarianism is a philosophy of individual freedom. Or so its adherents claim. But with their single-minded defense of the rights of property and contract, libertarians cannot come to grips with the systemic denial of freedom in private regimes of power, particularly the workplace. When they do try to address that unfreedom, as a group of academic libertarians calling themselves “Bleeding Heart Libertarians” have done in recent months, they wind up traveling down one of two paths: Either they give up their exclusive focus on the state and become something like garden-variety liberals or they reveal that they are not the defenders of freedom they claim to be.

That is what we are about to argue, but it is based on months of discussion with the Bleeding Hearts. The conversation was kicked off by the critique one of us—Corey Robin—offered of libertarian Julian Sanchez’s presignation letter to Cato, in which Sanchez inadvertently revealed the reality of workplace coercion. Jessica Flanigan, a Bleeding Heart, responded twice to Robin. Then one of us—Chris Bertram—responded to Flanigan. Since then, the Bleeding Hearts have offered a series of responses to Chris and Corey.

Life at Work To understand the limitations of these Bleeding Hearts, we have to understand how little freedom workers enjoy at work. Unfreedom in the workplace can be broken down into three categories.

  1. Abridgments of freedom inside the workplace On pain of being fired, workers in most parts of the United States can be commanded to pee or forbidden to pee. They can be watched on camera by their boss while they pee. They can be forbidden to wear what they want, say what they want (and at what decibel), and associate with whom they want. They can be punished for doing or not doing any of these things—punished legally or illegally (as many as 1 in 17 workers who try to join a union is illegally fired or suspended). But what’s remarkable is just how many of these punishments are legal, and even when they’re illegal, how toothless the law can be. Outside the usual protections (against race and gender discrimination, for example), employees can be fired for good reasons, bad reasons, or no reason at all. They can be fired for donating a kidney to their boss (fired by the same boss, that is), refusing to have their person and effects searched, calling the boss a “cheapskate” in a personal letter, and more. They have few rights on the job—certainly none of the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Amendment liberties that constitute the bare minimum of a free society; thus, no free speech or assembly, no due process, no right to a fair hearing before a panel of their peers—and what rights they do have employers will fight tooth and nail to make sure aren’t made known to them or will simply require them to waive as a condition of employment. Outside the prison or the military—which actually provide, at least on paper, some guarantee of due process—it’s difficult to conceive of a less free institution for adults than the average workplace.

  2. Abridgements of freedom outside the workplace In addition to abridging freedoms on the job, employers abridge their employees’ freedoms off the job. Employers invade employees’ privacy, demanding that they hand over passwords to their Facebook accounts, and fire them for resisting such invasions. Employers secretly film their employees at home. Workers are fired for supporting the wrong political candidates (“work for John Kerry or work for me”), failing to donate to employer-approved candidates, challenging government officials, writing critiques of religion on their personal blogs (IBM instructs employees to “show proper consideration…for topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory—such as politics and religion”), carrying on extramarital affairs, participating in group sex at home, cross-dressing, and more. Workers are punished for smoking or drinking in the privacy of their own homes. (How many nanny states have tried that?) They can be fired for merely thinking about having an abortion, for reporting information that might have averted the Challenger disaster, for being raped by an estranged husband. Again, this is all legal in many states, and in the states where it is illegal, the laws are often weak.

  3. Use of sanctions inside the workplace as a supplement to—or substitute for—political repression by the state While employers often abridge workers’ liberty off the job, at certain moments, those abridgments assume a larger function for the state. Particularly in a liberal state constrained by constitutional protections such as the First Amendment, the instruments of coercion can be outsourced to—or shared with—the private sector. During the McCarthy period, for example, fewer than 200 men and women went to jail for their political beliefs, but as many as 40% of American workers—in both the public and private sectors—were investigated (and a smaller percentage punished) for their beliefs.

In his magisterial history of Reconstruction, W.E.B. DuBois noted that “the decisive influence” in suppressing the political agency of ex-slaves after the Civil War “was the systematic and overwhelming economic pressure” to which they were subjected. Though mindful of the tremendous violence, public and private, visited upon African Americans, DuBois also saw that much of the repression occurred in and through the workplace.

Negroes who wanted work must not dabble in politics. Negroes who wanted to increase their income must not agitate the Negro problem. Positions of influence were only open to those Negroes who were certified as being “safe and sane,” and their careers were closely scrutinized and passed upon. From 1880 onward, in order to earn a living, the American Negro was compelled to give up his political power.

What makes the private sector, especially the workplace, such an attractive instrument of repression is precisely that it can administer punishments without being subject to the constraints of the Bill of Rights. It is an archipelago of private governments, in which employers are free to do precisely what the state is forbidden to do: punish without process. Far from providing a check against the state, the private sector can easily become an adjutant of the state. Not through some process of liberal corporatism but simply because employers often share the goals of state officials and are better positioned to act upon them.

All of these examples come from the United States, where “at will” employment—defended by virtually all libertarians, including the Bleeding Hearts—is the legal norm. Yet conservatives elsewhere campaign for similar laws. For example, in the United Kingdom, where workers enjoy some statutory protections for unfair dismissal, a venture-capitalist, Adam Beecroft, recently produced a report for the Conservative Party arguing for a US-style firing regime. Should the Conservatives be able to govern on their own, we can expect at-will to pass into law. The UK has already moved much further in this direction than comparable European countries, with predictable results in the workplace, as the journalist Owen Jones has recently documented. What’s next? Forcing reporters to dress up as Harry Potter at a news conference? Oops. Too late.

Rest of the article here.

http://crookedtimber.org/2012/07/01/let-it-bleed-libertarianism-and-the-workplace/

36 Comments

36 Comments


Read the Rules
[-] 1 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6584) 2 years ago

Corporations are private tyrannies, and libertarians support private tyranny. Pure and simple.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYxGkFxb7f4&feature=plcp

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwQEgOKEEXI&feature=plcp

[Deleted]

[-] 1 points by JadedCitizen (4277) 2 years ago

That would be like telling a slave their freedoms are not restricted because they have the right to find a better master who provides more likable working conditions. Don't like Master Bob, go work for Master Dave, he'll let you sneak off the assembly line to take a pee if you really have to go. But Master Dave pays the men more than the women, and he'll fire you if he catches you complaining about it. Either way, the slave abides by the owner's rules.

If everybody started their own business, who would be left to do the work. Until you eliminate the need for production outright, there will always be workers. Starting your own business only offers a solution to the problem of restrictive workplaces for a few individuals. You're still left with a large number of people having restricted freedoms in a so called free country.

[Deleted]

[-] 1 points by JadedCitizen (4277) 2 years ago

But if the slave did have a choice (which is what a wage slave is), the argument holds water, the slave would merely trade one master for another.

I'm not addressing how to make more jobs. It has no bearing on this subject. I'm addressing how to make jobs less restrictive to freedom.

I'm not sure how you came up with hunter gatherer society. I'll try to explain it again.

I'm pointing out that self-employment will never be an alternative choice to employment that everyone can follow. To suggest it is an optional choice for everybody to become self-employed is deceptive, because if everyone was self-employed, who would work for them. Are you suggesting we could come to a state of society where everybody is self-employed and no one worked for them. How would a self-employed person build cars if he had no workers because all the workers took your advice and became self-employed. Simply, I'm saying there is a limit to the number of people who can become self-employed.

[Deleted]

[-] 1 points by JadedCitizen (4277) 2 years ago

Your dad is one person in the entire economy and not a representative of the whole. So I don't see the relevance.

Being self employed or owning a business requires a lot of things in order to be successful, discipline would be one factor. I am glad we can agree it is not an option for everyone in the economy to be self-employed or own a business. Now the point remains is what to do about workers who have freedoms restricted by an undemocratic workplace.

Job growth is important, but it is not relevant to this topic.

Your one person in the entire economy and your personal story is not representative of everyone in the economy.

Government is an authoritative institution which should serve the people, and that includes forcing people to pay taxes. If you do not like government having authority over you, then perhaps you are an anarchist at heart.

[-] 1 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6584) 2 years ago

That's not the way it works. Libertarianism is just a call for pure private tyranny. The decent way to organize society is thru the principles of libertarian socialism: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxYth0ktPsY&feature=plcp

Also, read my articles:

Debunking Libertarian Myths pt. 1

Debunking Libertarian Myths pt. 2

[Deleted]

[-] 1 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6584) 2 years ago

I'm pretty aware of the views of the LP. The libertarians' view of "indiviual freedom" has in my view nothing to do with freedom. Libertarianism means giving power into the hands of unaccountable private tyrannies; it means giving the overwheming control of the economy to the non-elected financial elite.

Libertarianism means private tyranny (cf Debunking Libertarian Myths pt 1, 2 and3)

[Deleted]

[-] 2 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6584) 2 years ago

Yes, and if you'd bother to read my 3 parts debunking all of these claims of "voluntarism" and "freedom" the libertarians and LP claim to be a supporter of, you'd see that libertarians are wrong.

I have never said that libertarians and LP doesn't want law and order. What I'm saying is that the laws and rights they want will create a tyrannical system.

[Deleted]

[-] 1 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6584) 2 years ago

No, I'm not. These myths are arguments that libertarians advocate and claim will come to be in a libertarian society, and I give arguments against these myths. My arguments are not in any way contradicting that libertarians want government/state to handle law and order.

No, libertarians want to give economic power to private enterprise and corporations. Lf Capitalism is an economy run by non-elected wealthy individuals: Private tyranny. Capitalism, whther it's the libertarian type, laissez faire, or anarcho-capitalism, is private tyranny.

[-] 1 points by Corium (246) 2 years ago

So you are basically anti capitalist... all forms of capitalism. Is that correct?

If it is correct, what is your idea of a legitimate economic system that prevents tyranny in all it's forms?

[-] 1 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6584) 2 years ago

"So you are basically anti capitalist... all forms of capitalism. Is that correct?"

Oh, absolutley! I'm as anti-capitalist as they come. Capitalism is tyrannical, undemocratic, unsustainable, and exploitative, it must be dismantled.

http://occupywallst.org/forum/debunking-libertarian-myths-pt-1/

http://occupywallst.org/forum/debunking-libertarian-myths-pt-2/

http://occupywallst.org/forum/debunking-libertarian-myths-pt-3/

http://occupywallst.org/forum/our-democratic-deficit/

"what is your idea of a legitimate economic system that prevents tyranny in all it's forms?"

Libertarian Socialism - A decentralized, free, sustainable, solidaric society where democracy is built from below, thru democratic workplaces, democratic communities; a society where people get to participate in the things they're a part of.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxYth0ktPsY&feature=plcp

wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarian_socialism

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarcho-syndicalism

also check out my "Occupy your Workplace" video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jRy5ZIYZok&feature=plcp

[Deleted]

[-] 1 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6584) 2 years ago

Hi.

  1. The issue of the use of remuneration / money is debated within LS. As you know LS consists of very alike, but somewhat different philosopies, all the way from anarcho-communsim (who reject the use of money) to others who are more open for it. But remember that LS is based on a decentralized system so it would be up to the communities to decide many of the details themselves.

  2. You of course get to have personal possessions, and a right to a decent home. We have to destinguish between the economy and private sphere. Economic institutions (things that are a part of the economy, which affects us all, and are the workplace of many people) must be controlled by the participants. A rule of thumb is that people should have the right to a democratic say in the things they're a part of and affect them. So in other words, your Ipad is yours; on the other hand, the factories, workplaces etcetc must belong to the community, and the workers. Details in form of use of land and resourses must be decided by the communities.

  3. I would think that in a libertarian socialsit society weapons are not much wanted, nor needed; I think that in this society most people would like to live in a civilized peaceful society where guns and weapons don't take up much of their time.

  4. The communities and the participants thru democratic process.

Before you ask more follow ups, please read/watch the links I provided. You'll get alot of answers that way.

[-] -1 points by PeterKropotkin (1050) from Oakland, CA 2 years ago

How many hours a week do you work? You have the right to leave this restrictive work place but do you have the ability without consequences? And if there were no consequences to leaving why havent you left and started your own business or found somewhere else to work?

[-] 1 points by conservatroll (159) 2 years ago

He probably hasn't left and started his own business since he said in his FIRST SENTENCE:

, I've never considered my freedoms limited by my work place

[-] 1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 2 years ago

The days of hearing people on this web site speak honestly about the effects and affects of libe(R)tarianism on our nation and the World are over.

Their co-option has been welcomed and disparaging words on the subject are verboten.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

Interesting, but this runs us into a deeper question, what does non-coercion mean in this context? A thought experiment, imagine a worker cooperative, owned and managed by its workers. Would there be any workplace rules that everyone had to abide by? BTW, this isn't to say worker cooperatives are a bad idea (I personally think they're a great idea), but it gets at the deeper question, what does non-coercion mean? If I'm a worker in XYZ Cooperative, and the bathroom is occupied, can I piss on the carpet? Easy answer right? Of course not, because if everyone pissed on the carpet, we would be working in a cesspool of urine. Okay, so we need some rules, but what's the line that demarcates coercion from non-coercion?

Another question, a little more abstract, what if a small number of workers tend to dominate the floor during meetings? Well, we need some rules to avoid this problem, but we say that every worker will know the rules coming in, therefore, it's voluntary (and, in this context, non-coercive). But is it really non-coercive? After all, you might think every workplace will need these sort of rules (to avoid dysfunction), so in fact every human who would like a job (and bread to eat) will have to conform to at least a quasi-uniform set of rules.

Here's where the conservative arguments generally turn (at least the sophisticated arguments). Considering that a certain degree of conformity is required (assuming we want a civilized democracy), then is absolute freedom even possible? If it's not possible, and a society ran by self-managed groups would at least feel coercive (like the top down society), then isn't it reasonable to assess this question on a utilitarian basis? In other words, which system does a better job of producing economic prosperity? Don't get me wrong, I like the core premise of anarchist philosophy, our default position should be against power structures & power relationships, but this is easier accomplished on paper than it is in practice. So I prefer sidestepping the more hypothetical and conjectural arguments, in favor of supporting practical initiatives that factor in utility.

What if every region, every metropolitan area (including smaller cities) had an economy that behaved more like a closed system? In other words, smaller cities like Cleveland, Syracuse, Utica, Gary, etc., had their own municipal banks, owned the cable television infrastructure, owned their own utilities (including electrical production), had their own stock markets, and used those resources to develop a worker cooperative based economy, where the people (in most cases) produced what they consumed (locally), retailers and manufacturers were worker cooperatives or employee owned, instead of slum lords they had nonprofit real estate trusts, instead of giant insurance companies, they had regional nonprofit insurance companies, etc. They could even reconfigure their political system as a participatory democracy (at least their local political system).

[-] 0 points by betuadollar (-313) 2 years ago

What if? What you speak of here in this last paragraph is time travel; all of these things existed before industrialization and mechanized transportation, and IF such were possible I'd leave this very moment.

[-] 0 points by PeterKropotkin (1050) from Oakland, CA 2 years ago

The first two questions I don't know the answers to and the reason for this is that I have never participated in a cooperative outside of my credit union.

I am sure however that there are answers to these questions and that those that work at places like Mondragon in Spain or Isthmus Engineering in Wisconsin or Evergreen in Ohio could answer. I suspect that the answer to the first question at least in part lies in the definitions of the words coercion and cooperation.

co·er·cion   [koh-ur-shuhn] Show IPA noun 1. the act of coercing; use of force or intimidation to obtain compliance. 2. force or the power to use force in gaining compliance, as by a government or police force.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/coercion

co·op·er·a·tion   [koh-op-uh-rey-shuhn] Show IPA noun 1. an act or instance of working or acting together for a common purpose or benefit; joint action. 2. more or less active assistance from a person, organization, etc.: We sought the cooperation of various civic leaders. 3. willingness to cooperate: to indicate cooperation. 4. Economics . the combination of persons for purposes of production, purchase, or distribution for their joint benefit: producers' cooperation; consumers' cooperation. 5. Sociology . activity shared for mutual benefit.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/cooperation

Private enterprises or even state public ones are coersive by their very nature I believe. If you don't abide by the rules of the boss than you can be fired and lose your means of making a living. Its true that if you don't like working somewhere that you can quit and go somewhere else but whats to say that there rules will be any better or less restrictive? Or the working conditions will be any better either. While in the cooperative mode of production people come together to agree on what the rules are, not some boss who can fire you or impose restrictive rules on their employees. That to me is the difference between coercion and cooperation. In a cooperative agreement or a non coercive one people come together to decide on things for their mutual benifit. In a coercive agreement one party sets the rules to benifit their own position by only offering the bare minimum that it would take for the other party to accept it.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

Right, and I agree, a worker cooperative is a less coercive model. However, what happens when people change their minds, maybe they continue conforming with the group ethos (for financial reasons, can't afford to lose his job, so it loses a bit of its voluntary character), or maybe they just leave the group, or perhaps they remain in the group, but just become disruptive, unpleasant, etc.

Certainly, effective consensus techniques could probably mitigate many of these problems, but perhaps not in every case (so I think there's some kinks, but nothing insurmountable).

[-] 0 points by PeterKropotkin (1050) from Oakland, CA 2 years ago

Yes, there will never be such a thing as a utopia in this world but a better world is possible, at least I hope it is.

[-] 2 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

Indeed, a better world is certainly possible. I mean, these are questions we all struggle with. I think a characteristic of intelligence is a certain amount of humility, it lacks the certitude of unsophisticated thought schemes (like religiosity), and if I could impress anything on anyone, it would be this, let's be intelligent and humble enough to acknowledge when an idea is untested, hypothetical, and as good as it may sound on paper, we will only deserve credibility when we've tested these ideas.

However, local economies, cooperatives, more participatory democratic structures, etc., are less hypothetical (and in many cases these ideas have been well tested). This is the low fruit on the tree that resets our trajectory (which is terrible at the moment).

[-] -1 points by betuadollar (-313) 2 years ago

The thing is, we have cooperatives everywhere in this country. A minor scenario - three well drillers (cause, hey, everybody needs water) - one works twelve hour days through rain, snow, and summer heat; the other drinks and watches, the third rarely shows up for work. Now you know why there are rules in the workplace and why cooperatives cannot work because this is a real life scenario; it's reality.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

You contradicted yourself inside the space of a single paragraph. First you say there's cooperatives everywhere in the country (which is true), then you say they can't work (when in fact we know this is untrue, since there's cooperatives everywhere in the country, and they work just fine). Of course, generally speaking, one cannot behave as your lazy driller behaves in a modern cooperative. These organizations still have rules, they still have a uniform work schedule (that its members are obligated to follow), and they can still fire people.

I guess my original point was a larger one. We might say consensus works when everyone agrees on a fundamental set of rules, and behaves consistent with those rules. Okay, well isn't this true about everything? So what's so special about consensus?

We might say it avoids dividing people up according to who wins and who loses, but is this really true? To what extent will people sort of go along with the program, merely because they view it as better than the alternative (rather than the ideal)? In other words, does it reduce to a lesser of two evils philosophy, and if so, is this truly non-coercive?

I don't think we have enough information to answer this question in a definitive way, but I think it's a valid question all the same. For me, I like the idea of a more locally centered economy, participatory democracy, cooperatives, etc., for more practical reasons (that I feel can be thought through in a much more coherent way).

[-] -1 points by betuadollar (-313) 2 years ago

My experience in the work place, having worked with literally thousands of people, is that the overwhelming majority are there of necessity and not free will; they are therefore less willing or compliant. We can't rail against the coercive authority of the power of one in an unequal ownership, and then implement the coercive power of a consensus majority in an equal ownership, and assume any improvement, especially when it is implemented precisely because the majority want to share in equal profit - meaning equal money, more money, for less work. The hierarchical power structure of any joint venture exists for one reason only - to insert efficiency; without that efficiency we all fail.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

Yet, employee owned companies (where there's not only significant ownership by all employees, but also a participatory management structure) have been shown to be more efficient compared to their conventional counterparts (not to mention they survive longer, on average). Nevertheless, even in these cases, management isn't completely horizontal (at least not as a general rule). So I lean towards the position that this remains an open question. We know that organizations can be much more participatory than they are today, and remain highly effective. Therefore (assuming you agree with the contention that disenfranchisement is undesirable), we should try to maximize participation as much as possible. There may be an upper limit to its effectiveness, but we already know enough to say that much more participation is possible, feasible, and effective.

[-] -1 points by betuadollar (-313) 2 years ago

People are disenfranchised for a number of reasons: they are ill treated; underpaid, under utilized, often the work itself is too demeaning. But all serves to inform us of the value of self and we move on with an eye towards improvement. Cooperatives often fail precisely because they want to share more equally; look at the history of United Airlines, for example. And it applies here because I get the impression we're just building marmalade minions in the sky.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

Dude, you keep pointing to this weakness in the cooperative model, and I keep telling you ... you're empirically WRONG:

On the theory that any sense of worker control, or culture of worker ownership, would depend on workers having majority control of a firm, I constructed a panel of over 300 firms in which ESOPs held more than 50% of the firm's stock (these I called EO firms, for employee-owned). I then used a major data-base to construct a group of "matching" traditional firms, each of which was in a very closely matching industry and of similar size to one of these EO firms, and having no employee ownership (these I called KO, for capital-owned). Using the same data-base, I obtained sales and employment information on both groups of firms.

Using a statistical procedure that compared each EO company to its matching KO company (or companies), I found that, on average, EO companies had 8.8% greater sales per employee during the period for which I had data. Fully (100%) owned companies had better "EO advantages" than the rest on this measure, smaller firms had better sales-per-employee advantages than larger ones, and firms with greater ESOP assets per employee (effectively the average employee financial investment) also did better. These additional results tend to validate my hypothesis that it was the culture of ownership in the EO firms that led to higher "productivity" (as measured by sales per employee).

http://www.geo.coop/node/618

Another study:

http://www.law.nyu.edu/ecm_dlv3/groups/public/@nyu_law_website__journals__review_of_law_and_social_change/documents/documents/ecm_pro_070167.pdf

A listing of a group of studies:

http://www.nceo.org/articles/studies-employee-ownership-corporate-performance

Giving workers shares in a firm may have commercial benefits. Employee-owned companies are more productive and hardier in a recession, according to a 2010 study by Cass Business School. John Lewis, which also owns Waitrose, a posh grocery chain, seems to bear this out. Staff turnover is low; the shop beat many competitors on Christmas sales. Firms with similar structures concur: Arup, an engineering outfit, attributes its business range and “family feel” to being owned by its 10,000 employees.

http://www.economist.com/node/21543161

A second economic argument for cooperatives is that worker participation in running the business (which is certainly the case for worker cooperatives but also is a common feature of consumer cooperatives) increases labor productivity. One study comparing plywood companies in the Pacific Northwest found that cooperatives were 13.5 percent more productive than equivalent unionized plants, noting that cooperative workers could have gone on vacation an extra seven weeks and produced as much as their private-sector counterparts. The efficiencies occurred because management, by involving workers, made smarter decisions about raw materials, machinery, and production methods. Another study of the Mondragon Cooperatives in Spain (elaborated below), by Henry Levin of Columbia University, showed that with only 25 percent of the capital per worker as the nation’s largest five hundred private firms, they were able to add 88 percent to the value of products per worker. That’s triple the productivity!

http://stirtoaction.com/?p=1483

So evidently, the evidence disagrees with your contention.

[-] -1 points by betuadollar (-313) 2 years ago

Yea but no one builds companies on statistics... to implement your cooperative, you have to bring together a group of investors; they are not the worker bees but the queen-bee... the employees of many cooperatives, even if granted stock options, are often unionized, and what the union very effectively does is insulate the employee from work or the coercive incentive to work. It doesn't really matter; it's not my intent to disparage anyone from the social experiment, I just don't believe that in simple form, one will ever gain the concerted effort that is suggested here; it defies human nature. And at this point, I'm bowing out because you really do have a right to pursue in any manner you so choose. Well, at least, under the old Constitution, which admittedly, no longer exists anywhere in the world beyond that which is personally cerebral.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

Fortunately, no one is forced to believe the whims of our imagination, we have science, empirical research studies, and it really doesn't matter how anyone "feels" about this idea ... the evidence speaks for itself. Why anyone would seek to critique this research without citing their own research (suggesting a contrary outcome), is beyond me.

Anecdotal experience is no replacement (in most cases) for a good, peer reviewed, and rigorously tested research study, using generally accepted techniques for quantifying data. Therefore, I'm comfortable promoting the idea of cooperatives and employee owned/managed enterprises.

[-] -1 points by betuadollar (-313) 2 years ago

Yea but it's all BS... and the world does not revolve on BS; it is literally willed to spin to the beat of human nature. However, it did occur to me, that if you were to apply the very same method of examination to healthcare in the US to address such things as our ridiculous fee-for-services system of payment and the medical inflationary rate of 2 - 3 times the cost of all other goods, WE might actually have something. OR, we could go into investment banking OR corporate cost reduction analysis OR perhaps cooperative energy OR... oh never mind - like I said it was not my intent to disparage.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

Fair enough, but things like local banking probably wouldn't completely displace investment banking (although I think we'd all like to see Glass Steagall restored & doing so would change banking considerably, but of course GS gave us 7 decades of stability in our financial sector). Nevertheless, I'm not really talking about anything unprecedented, or not well understood. I'm talking about expanding already tested, but under-utilized, approaches to economics.

The same is true for more participatory approaches to governance. We already have a strong tradition of volunteerism in this country, many states already allow things like recall elections (and have for a very long time), so here again, I'm endorsing expanding upon more enlightened approaches to these issues, which have been under-utilized (and under-utilized for obvious, but not good, reasons).

[-] 0 points by betuadollar (-313) 2 years ago

Interesting that the Europeans are now trying to legislate their own version of Glass Steagal... but yea, I'm beginning to see your point. I think I want to study "Mondragon" a little more. Thanks for enlightening me.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

The way worker cooperatives typically operate is they hire workers, who over the period of say one year, slowly buy an equity stake in the cooperative (usually through payroll deductions). So in terms of finding investors, formation of cooperatives requires a group of people (co-owners) willing and able to create the enterprise, and of course financing.

If more municipalities owned a bank (as some US cities do, albeit it's fairly rare at this point), these municipal banks could be the source of funding for local worker cooperatives.

[-] 1 points by PeterKropotkin (1050) from Oakland, CA 2 years ago

Honestly thats not true and is not based in reality. Cooperatives can't work? Please elaborate on why this is and what proof you have that this mode of production is inferior.

[-] -1 points by betuadollar (-313) 2 years ago

For precisely the reasons I have heretofore stated. I have far too much experience with the world of cooperative labor; virtually all are inclined to laziness; it's evolutionary as the means of stored energy. Very few people are energetic enough to carry the whole, but that is precisely what occurs in the everyday world of employment.

[-] 1 points by PeterKropotkin (1050) from Oakland, CA 2 years ago

If it's so ineffiecient and people are so lazy than how do you explain Mondragon?

http://www.ownershipassociates.com/mcc-intro.shtm

http://www.mondragon-corporation.com/ENG.aspx

Or Isthmus Engineering?

http://www.isthmuseng.com/company/worker-owned-cooperative/

Or Evergreen?

http://evergreencooperatives.com/

Or that Mondragon has entered into a deal with Evergreen and the Ohio Employee Ownership Center and the United Steel Workers union and have announced its detailed union co-op model for developing sustainable jobs using the combination of worker ownership and the collective bargaining process.

http://www.usw.org/our_union/co-ops

Mondragon currently employ's 83,000 employee's around the world and 85% of them are full members of the cooperative. The town in which Mondragon is located has its own Cooperative University. Also, the town which is also named Mondragon currently has a unemployment rate around 10 percentage points lower than the rest of Spain. So, I would say that they do work. One more link you should check out.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jun/24/alternative-capitalism-mondragon

[-] 0 points by betuadollar (-313) 2 years ago

Cool. I like it.