Monthly Archives: March 2012

Podcast: Talking with Bryan Welch

From Sandy LeonVest’s Political Analysis on the Progressive Radio Network:

Download the audio segment

Tonight on Political Analysis, Sandy LeonVest hosts a groundbreaking conversation on how the can create a sustainable (and livable) future – even as the nation’s disemboweled “” becomes less accessible to the “living majority.” Tonight’s guests, author and educator Gar Alperovitz and entrepreneur, organic farmer Bryan Welch have very different — but sometimes converging — ideas about how to create such a future.

Bryan Welch is the publisher of the highly successful Mother Earth News, Utne Reader and other publications, and one of the nation’s leading thinkers on what some have dubbed the “new .” His vision of a more just and sustainable world proposes a that distributes value according to the durability, provenance and sustainability of products — by paying attention to every consequence of a company’s operation.

Gar Alperovitz is the Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland and co-founder of the Democracy Collaborative. Among his most recent books are America Beyond Capitalism and (with Lew Daly) Unjust Deserts: How the Rich Are Taking Our Common Inheritance and Why We Should Take It Back. He believes — as conveyed by the title of one of his books — that we need to move beyond capitalism, in order to pave the way to a vibrant democracy with a sustainable economy that can satisfy human needs — not least of which is the need to control one’s work and life.

Originally posted on Political Analysis at PRN.FM

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The New “Union Co-op” Model

The new model for a “union co-op,” one which combines principles of worker ownership and labor solidarity—jointly announced by the United Steelworkers, the Ohio Employee Ownership Center and Mondragón on March 26, 2012—represents a major and positive historic advance in community wealth-building. Their work is helping to forge the building blocks of a new economy.

The late John Logue, who founded the Ohio Employee Ownership Center, would have been thrilled by this news. John long viewed cooperative worker ownership as a critical tool to defend workers against the ravages of a globalized economy.

The proposed model, however, does more than establish worker ownership. The involvement of the Steelworkers revives the American tradition of union participation in cooperatives, which began with the Knights of Labor more than a century ago. At Mondragón co-ops, a “social council” makes sure that the “primacy of labor” so central to their values is in fact honored in practice. Here the Steelworkers union will play this crucial role, repurposing the traditional collective bargaining agreement in a new framework, one designed not around conflict, but around balancing the imperatives in a cooperatively owned workplace.

Importantly, this proposal is animated by a larger vision than just the individual workplace. It looks towards Mondragón’s model of inter-cooperation, co-ops helping co-ops, sharing resources in the spirit of solidarity and mutual aid—for instance, by providing access to union-scale benefits plans, which might otherwise prove to be a massive burden on a smaller firm.

Today’s announcement also heralds the potential for real on-the-ground developments—and further efforts in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and elsewhere.

The Steelworkers, Mondragón, and the Ohio Employee Ownership Center are to be commended on their achievement, and on the further advances projected for coming months.

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Podcast: Speech on the New Economy at the offices of The Nation Magazine

The Nation recently hosted a half-hour talk at the magazine’s New York offices earlier this month, entitled, “Can Cooperative Workplaces Save America’s Economy?,” the audio of which is now available at the NationConversations page. This discussion is also available on this site, as a podcast and mp3:


Download “The Nation Magazine: Can Cooperative Workplaces Save America’s Economy?”

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(Updated) Podcast: Left Forum Panel on The Next System – Exploring Alternatives to Capitalism, Parts 1 and 2

On March 18, the Left Forum in New York hosted a panel to explore economic alternatives to capitalism, with Richard Wolff, professor of economics at the New School and author of Capitalism Hits the Fan, and David Schweickart, professor of philosophy at Loyola University in Chicago and author of After Capitalism.

Part 1: Three presentations

Richard Wolff – 1:00
David Schweickart – 18:20
Gar Alperovitz – 37:00

Download: “The Next System” Gar Alperovitz, Richard Wolff and David Schweickart at Left Forum 2012

New! Part 2: Q&A Period


Download: “The Next System” Gar Alperovitz, Richard Wolff and David Schweickart Part 2

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Does Mark Zuckerberg Really Deserve All That Money? – March 9, 2012: Facebook’s founder is about to be worth $21 billion — thanks to the American public. Shouldn’t we get our share, too?

On Monday, Bloomberg News estimated that Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s 27-year-old founder, will be worth about $21 billion based on his company’s forthcoming initial public offering. Although he won’t qualify (yet) for a slot among the planet’s richest 20 people in the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Zuckerberg will still enjoy iconic status as an entrepreneur of mythic proportions. Indeed, the Wall Street Journal credited Facebook with creating “a new way of living,” and hailed the company—thought to be worth $100 billion—as a “prototypical American success story, complete with technological brilliance and a fair amount of drama.” Bill Keller of the New York Times similarly “marveled” at Mark Zuckerberg’s “imagination and industry.”

But does Zuckerberg deserve all this money? To what degree does his shrewd business idea—rather than the conditions that allowed it to happen—“deserve” credit for creating this enormous bounty? Some obvious questions: Where would he be without the Internet? Or the computer? Or all the many other publicly financed technologies that made Facebook possible? Certainly, he “deserves” something, but how do we gain perspective on the bounty created, on the one hand, by public investment; and on the other, by smart entrepreneurs who run off with the lion’s share of the benefits of such investments? Read More »

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