Category Archives: economics

Human Power Plants

A funny concept developed by artists Kris De Decker and Melle Smets is the human power plant. As the name suggests this is a power plant which converts human labour into electricity. Like many artistic projects, the main purpose of this project is to make people think about our energy consumption. Continue reading Human Power Plants

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Robots or sweatshops?

In The Guardian a good opinion piece:

Worry less about robots and more about sweatshops

Not automation per se is a threat to workers, but exploitation of workers is the important issue at stake.

One side note: the author laments the decreased membership of trade unions. However, in the long run only worker cooperatives could end the exploitation of workers. It’s quite pity that those who claim to stand up for worker rights continue to fail to support the cooperative movement.

Methods to promote cooperatives

On this site we have proposed several methods which the government could use to stimulate the creation of a cooperative economy.

First of all, the government should give preferential treatment to worker cooperatives when procuring goods and services from the private sector. This will give cooperatives an advantage and hence create an inducement to start a cooperative and to maintain them.

Also the government could set up a finance company which will help people with funding a cooperative through either finance or operating lease. This way the start-up costs and hence risks for new cooperatives will be reduced. By reducing the costs of setting up a cooperative, their formation will become more attractive.

Further the government should create a level playing field between wage labor and self-employment. This requires, for instance, the abolition of minimum wage laws and its replacement with some kind of basic income guarantee. A basic income will reduce the risk people face when they run their own businesses.

Another idea is when people who have lost their job apply for unemployment benefits, to inform them of the possibility to set up a cooperative with other people who lost their jobs. This should be combined with a retraining program, to ensure people will have the necessary skills to operate a worker cooperative.

Worker cooperative articles

Here some interesting articles on worker cooperatives:

The Case for Worker Cooperatives – by Nancy Folbre, New York Times

Worker Cooperatives: A Bipartisan Solution to America’s Growing Income Inequality – by Benjamin Gillies, Kennedy School Review

10 Lessons from Kenya’s Remarkable Cooperatives – Nathan Schneider, Shareable

Mondragón Cooperative: A Bussiness with a Commitment to a Common Good – by Georgia Kelly and Shaula Massena, Yes! Magazine