by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
We can see this with the John Lewis Partnership in the UK and with the Florida-based company Publix, the latter which is outperforming Walmart on every count in that state.
Co-ops have shown on every level that, because they are owned by the people that work there, and who have an interest in retaining customers as their bonuses in the form of dividends depend on this, to outperform other kind of businesses and are on the same level as simple owner-operated and family businesses.
Where co-ops were permitted in the so-called Com-Bloc of the Cold War era, whether in the USSR, the GDR, or elsewhere, they also outperformed the state-owned (they never were worker-owned despite the claims) businesses hands down.
The reason for this is, as above mentioned, the obvious one of the workers all, in a co-op, having a vested interest in getting and retaining customers on all levels.
A business who gives the customer great service with workers who are happy because they own a part in the business rather than just being wage slaves will always get more customers and will retain those they already have and the new ones.
Quality and not quantity is the measure in co-operative businesses and that as regards to products in the same way as to customer care. A company that provides quality products, great customer service and has ethics, because everyone cares as it is their company will always outperform those where the workers are but seen as human resources.
Corporations, especially the multinationals, have caused us more grief that we can even imagine and the best proof for that are the likes of Monsanto. It appears to be the aim of the latter to take control of the entire food supply of the world and to have a patent on every food imaginable so that we can but grow and eat what they prescribe, with the governments being in the pay of such corporations.
Corporate greed has depleted the Earth's resources to such an extent that we have run out of many of them or are on the brink of doing so, it has destroyed the very ecosystems that everything, including humans, depend on for the very life on this Planet, and still they want more, more and more.
This greed is also the underlying cause of most wars and conflicts on a global scale and causes the erosion of liberties all over the world. For, if wars are not fought for land resources, as the case used to be, and that more often than not also in conjunction with corporate greed, they are fought for resources in the form of oil, gas, gold, iron ore and others. All so that more and more can be produced to create more and more waste and the corporates then suggest to people that they need all those new (advanced) products to be happy and the spiral moves on and on.
Worker-owned businesses, on the other hand, can and do offer ethical alternatives to doing business and can provide customers with products that are well made and that last and that can be repaired if anything goes wrong. The big corporations, in comparison, are only interested to produce more goods cheaply that will not endure and that cannot be repaired so that they can make more to sell more and make more profit.
While it would appear that the tides are beginning to change there are still too many people that want everything on the cheap and cannot see the consequences that this has, for them, for the workers producing those cheap goods, and for the Planet on which we all depend.
The fact that worker-owned businesses, however, are becoming more and more popular is proof, to some extent, that people are beginning, hopefully, to understand how the proverbial cookie crumbles and that we all must change our ways. We cannot sustain the current way of doing things as it will, in the end, destroy the very Planet on which we, and every other living thing, depend.
The worker-owned business model does not have to end with artisans and shops. It can work with every business and that includes the provision of municipal services and others.
As far as banking and the financial sector are concerned mutuals have always existed and for many decades and more have led the way, and those are also co-ops but on another level.
Community agriculture too is another way as far as market gardening and growing food for all can be covered. The list could be endless and we but need to get our heads around the fact that the corporate model is not the answer and that there is another answer that will benefit all.
Into this equation also enter the so-called alternative or local currencies, often based on hours, such as Ithaca Hours and Mountain Hours, with many others in the fray as well.
The system of exchange of the early New England colonies was on chits, that is to say paper money issued in the various colonies and territories and not, as many wish to believe, on gold and silver rounds. The American Revolution was as much about Kind George wanting to abolish this system as on the taxes being imposed from London without the colonists having any say in the matter.
For sustainability to work a change of government is not what is needed but a change of system and of the way we live and work.