Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
KJP

Socialism / Social Democracy

Recommended Posts

On 3/18/2019 at 11:47 AM, KJP said:

There's many types of socialism, so could you clarify which one you mean, TKLG? Meanwhile, competition is decreasing under America's version of oligarchical capitalism through consolidation into a few mega-conglomerates. A social democracy encourages competition by prohibiting such consolidations that transfer economic and political power from the people to a smattering of wealthy families.

 

Oligarchical capitalism has brought us to this, where we have fewer choices and rising prices....

Conglomerates.jpg

In addition, those conglomerates, controlled by the top 1%, protect the status quo, drive the political process (regardless of party affiliation), prohibiting competition (and the bottom 99%) from gaining access, thereby further increasing their own wealth. Let us not forget how political candidates are selected. Once selected, the rest of us are provided the opportunity to choose our "elected official;" sometimes that means the lesser of two evils.

 

From time to time they'll throw us a bone for pacification.

Edited by Frmr CLEder

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, Frmr CLEder said:

In addition, those conglomerates, controlled by the top 1%, protect the status quo, drive the political process (regardless of party affiliation), prohibiting competition (and the bottom 99) from gaining access. From time to time they'll throw us a bone for pacification.

 

Also note, that 5 of those company's are the biggest advertisers in the States.  So they affect decisions you make on a deeper level than some people think.  Many have social or corporate responsibility areas that try to leverage the imaging of corporate entities in this day of instant information/access.  

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was absolutely sick to learn that the Biggers had sold Stouffers to Nestle. While it's contributed to the glut of Nestle brands, it also took local ownership away from the metro Cleveland area.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Glad to know that exists. I have a lot of trouble pulling useful info from those types of websites tho... looks like these are the co-ops it supports:

 

Evergreen Energy Solutions, Green City Growers, Evergreen Cooperative Laundry

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In more traditional senses, professional firms (law firms, accounting firms, etc.) tend to be organized on a semi-cooperative model (owned by the partners).

 

Depending on how you view it, credit unions are at least a partially cooperative form of financial institution (no shareholders other than the depositors, who get "shares" for every dollar deposited).

 

The central difficulty of the cooperative model is access to capital.  Because they cannot raise equity in the traditional sense, they are limited to debt financing, along with perhaps some less orthodox methods like taking customer contributions for prepayments on services (barely qualifies as raising capital at all).  Professional firms can operate in this vein because the main thing they "sell" is the services of their people; the business model does not require maintaining massive long-term capital investments.

 

I've visited that Community Wealth site many times, though I haven't paid a great deal of attention to the Cooperatives portion of the site (as you can see, it's a bit of an umbrella site, not just focused on cooperatives, and I've spent much more time in their CDC materials).  I'd be interested to see the stories behind some of those cooperatives because they do seem like they're a little bit more capital-intensive (requiring land and equipment) than I usually think of as being viable candidates for cooperative models.

 

But you still aren't going to get a workers' cooperative together to run a steel mill or a nuclear power plant or a transcontinental railroad.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/1/2019 at 3:21 PM, Cavalier Attitude said:

What are some examples of worker co-operatives in Ohio?

 

Many socialists (Richard Wolff especially) push worker co-ops as their desired future.

 

Chillicothe and Cincinnati both had co-op grocery stores that have closed in the past few years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
35 minutes ago, Gramarye said:

In more traditional senses, professional firms (law firms, accounting firms, etc.) tend to be organized on a semi-cooperative model (owned by the partners).

 

Depending on how you view it, credit unions are at least a partially cooperative form of financial institution (no shareholders other than the depositors, who get "shares" for every dollar deposited).

 

The central difficulty of the cooperative model is access to capital.  Because they cannot raise equity in the traditional sense, they are limited to debt financing, along with perhaps some less orthodox methods like taking customer contributions for prepayments on services (barely qualifies as raising capital at all).  Professional firms can operate in this vein because the main thing they "sell" is the services of their people; the business model does not require maintaining massive long-term capital investments.

 

I've visited that Community Wealth site many times, though I haven't paid a great deal of attention to the Cooperatives portion of the site (as you can see, it's a bit of an umbrella site, not just focused on cooperatives, and I've spent much more time in their CDC materials).  I'd be interested to see the stories behind some of those cooperatives because they do seem like they're a little bit more capital-intensive (requiring land and equipment) than I usually think of as being viable candidates for cooperative models.

 

But you still aren't going to get a workers' cooperative together to run a steel mill or a nuclear power plant or a transcontinental railroad.


Law firms don't really count since the non-partners have no voting power or ownership (and the work at the bottom of the totem pole tends to be long and miserable). Credit unions are a partial form, I'd agree. The largest scale worker co-op is probably Mondragon Corp in Spain, and they are worker-owned but not worker-managed. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondragon_Corporation

 

Financing is a real problem but there are increasingly better solutions. There are institutions and products that deal with this problem: https://medium.com/fifty-by-fifty/are-cooperatives-really-so-difficult-to-finance-3adec81c70a8 Wolff advocates for governments to subsidize co-ops, arguing that we already provide subsidies for plenty of other private enterprises, so why not co-ops as well.

 

I think most socialists would argue that things like power plants and transcontinental railroads should be in the public sector.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you Cavalier Attitude.  Mondragon Corp. is the most prominent and successful co-op business model.  And you're right, worker ownership is not the same as worker-managed.  Just as US citizens have ownership in this country and have a voice to say how we want the country run, we hire professionals (elect representatives who hire experts in various agencies) to actually run the country.

 

Hopefully the Evergreen group of cooperatives in Cleveland continue to be successful and inspire more co-ops.  As Gramarye suggested, they can struggle like any business, and they can be easier to start in less capital-intensive settings.  Here's a home health care agency in NYC as another example -- http://www.chcany.org/

 

Not far from Cleveland, there are thriving cooperative businesses in Ann Arbor.

https://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-build-a-great-company-zingermans-ari-weinzweig-2014-6

 

And just now I found this interesting quote from 2014:

Quote

Whatever its form, worker ownership should appeal to both liberals and conservatives for very different reasons. For liberals, worker ownership is a way for workers to increase their earnings while dispersing ownership in companies and possibly inch toward some semblance of economic democracy. For conservatives, worker ownership passes the market test by simply surviving in a competitive economy, with the added benefit of making workers property owners, which instills values of personal responsibility and self-sufficiency.

http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/9/why-co-ops-are-thefutureoftheamericaneconomy.html

 

 


 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, Cavalier Attitude said:


Law firms don't really count since the non-partners have no voting power or ownership (and the work at the bottom of the totem pole tends to be long and miserable).

 

Which is why I said semi-cooperative.  You cannot "invest" in a law firm the way you can invest in Apple or Target (or even the way owners of closely held businesses can just own them without working there).  But it's true that most people, including generally many attorneys, who work there are just regular employees.

 

I have no conceptual problem with the co-op model.  Conceptually, I agree with the Al-Jazeera article Foraker posted.  My problems, as I noted earlier, are the practical problems, though that becomes a conceptual and principled problem if the preferred solution is "well, just socialize both the financial side of the co-op model, as well as any industry that's too capital-intensive to be a good candidate for a co-op model."

 

Socialized ownership should be reserved for activities and "industries" where the profit motive leads to actively perverse consequences (which, to be clear, does not include low wages or high income or wealth disparities).  This is why I remain receptive to arguments that there should be no private prisons, for example (since a private prison owner wants to maximize the prison population), nor private military companies (since they generally don't get paid unless there's a war on, which obviously gives them a conflict of interest on the question of whether there should be a war on).  By contrast, for example, I'm not as opposed to privatized transportation infrastructure (e.g., toll roads), because public ownership generally means the marginal cost of driving additional miles is zero (beyond the operating costs of one's vehicle), and limitless highway driving isn't necessarily a good thing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
30 minutes ago, Gramarye said:

 

I have no conceptual problem with the co-op model.  Conceptually, I agree with the Al-Jazeera article Foraker posted.  My problems, as I noted earlier, are the practical problems, though that becomes a conceptual and principled problem if the preferred solution is "well, just socialize both the financial side of the co-op model, as well as any industry that's too capital-intensive to be a good candidate for a co-op model."

Interesting. So you'd be okay with them if the practical problems were overcome? (not a leading question) My hope is that as demand for co-ops grow, the support, infrastructure, and financing would grow too. These seem to be tractable problems. The solutions will likely require some amount of government intervention at some point, since the current legal structure of businesses does not seem to take the co-op model into account very well. Hopefully actual subsidies won't be too necessary; I'm not opposed to them on principle like you, but they are an extra political hurdle, and at risk of being cut.

 

36 minutes ago, Gramarye said:

Socialized ownership should be reserved for activities and "industries" where the profit motive leads to actively perverse consequences (which, to be clear, does not include low wages or high income or wealth disparities).

This is where we disagree again, as I see low wages/inequality as an actively perverse consequence, and I would generally have a broader definition of actively perverse consequences than you. (I don't think coal power plants should exist any more, for example.)

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
34 minutes ago, Cavalier Attitude said:

Interesting. So you'd be okay with them if the practical problems were overcome? (not a leading question) My hope is that as demand for co-ops grow, the support, infrastructure, and financing would grow too. These seem to be tractable problems. The solutions will likely require some amount of government intervention at some point, since the current legal structure of businesses does not seem to take the co-op model into account very well. Hopefully actual subsidies won't be too necessary; I'm not opposed to them on principle like you, but they are an extra political hurdle, and at risk of being cut.

 

 

Of course I'd be OK with them if the practical problems could be overcome.  Capitalism is itself largely a reaction to practical problems.  Only a fringe element of people like deontological objectivists claim that "it's good simply because it's good."

 

My grandfather was a tool and die maker and was the head of what was in practice a co-op, a small independent machine shop.  (He would have been the equivalent of the shop steward, I think, in the old days.)  He was one of the guys not drafted for WWII because he was part of the industrial engine making the tools and dies that, in turn, made spare parts for I-have-honestly-no-idea-what-but-it-was-whatever-orders-came-in (leading me to sometimes joke that he was the world's poorest defense contractor).  They never intended to scale, which took away the primary handicap of their lack of access to capital.  They also had a visceral aversion to debt, but he wasn't an MBA trying to dispassionately analyze costs of capital and probable ranges of return on capital.  But that was also back when you could get a serviceable commercial building for peanuts, since he came of age in the Great Depression.  It was also back when Catholic school was free to every parishioner, so my dad and all his siblings were able to go to private school even with Pop Pop being a co-op tool and die maker and Mom Mom being a hairdresser working out of the basement of her house.

 

But if he had intended to grow that into the next Timken rather than just sticking with his little shop, he'd have needed access to capital.  Employee contributions would have been worse than useless, because he never even thought of it as a capital-building enterprise.  I have no idea if he ever even got "bought out" when he retired, but there probably wasn't even that much there anyway.  The business was, like a law firm, institutionally designed to be basically at zero income on December 31 of any given year.  Capital appreciation was never the goal, so there never would have been much capital there to borrow against even if he did want access to capital and wasn't averse to borrowing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's pretty easy to defend capitalism in the early to mid 20th century (at least if you exclude African Americans and other less fortunate groups). But nowadays, the system fails so many people, and is showing that many areas are completely unsustainable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/1/2019 at 3:21 PM, Cavalier Attitude said:

What are some examples of worker co-operatives in Ohio?

 

Many socialists (Richard Wolff especially) push worker co-ops as their desired future.

 

Casa Nueva in Athens is a worker-owned restaurant that formed in 1985 and is still going:

https://casanueva.com/about-us/our-story/

 

I'm not sure what their situation is with their building.  I doubt that they own it, but they've been in the same spot for decades so presumably they are paying something close to market rate on their space.  I was living there when they expanded in 2003 so I remember the before vs. after.  It was rumored that the expansion cost $700,000 but I'm not sure about that and I don't know where they got that much money if in fact that was the cost. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Of course, rules=capitalism-theft as well.

 

But that doesn't really mean anything because words isn't maths.

 

And who said capitalism without rules is theft?  I don't think that really holds up to any scrutiny.

 

Stupid all around.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, X said:

And who said capitalism without rules is theft?  I don't think that really holds up to any scrutiny.

 

Warren is selling t-shirts saying exactly that on her website.


Very Stable Genius

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah jeez.  Sounds more like Sanders' style B.S.  I thought Warren was smarter than that.  Certainly, capitalism without rules enables theft, but that's worlds away from saying capitalism without rules is theft.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...