Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Cooperatives Still Work from my ClashDaily.com column
There are many people in the United States who lack jobs that pay a living wage. There is an ongoing controversy about resetting the minimum wage. On one side of the controversy is that workers cannot live on amount per hour set as a minimum now. The other side is that minimal skills warrant minimal pay, giving incentive to the worker to improve their skillset in order to improve their personal bottom line. Most will agree that minimum wage jobs are not a career option. The tragedy is that the majority of “jobs created” in the last seven years have been service industry jobs that start at minimum wage. Anyone who has ever taken an economic course will tell you that a business that with high overhead is not a functional business. In this situation, the business has to eventually fold. This is a major stumbling block to raising the minimum wage in the service industry, the cost of which must needs be passed onto the consumer. Today’s consumers are stretched pretty thin as it is. A vast majority of manufacturing jobs, jobs that allowed the greatest generation to make a middle class income, be homeowners and have a family with a stay at home mom have been sent overseas. One solution to this problem would be to impose a tariff on the goods that are produced overseas in order to be competitive with the same goods made here in America. Another solution would be to heavily tax the profits of the corporations that have moved their jobs in order to find locations where low pay is acceptable, or a combination of the two. A logical solution is to look back at business history and apply it to today’s need for both living wage jobs and the return of manufacturing in America. In 2013, the PolitiChicks website published an article about reinstating the Cooperative. http://politichicks.com/2013/05/is-re-industrialization-solution-to-jobs-creation/ The basis of the article and of a cooperative is that citizens pony up their resources and form a business where everyone has a share or vote in the business. They are able to work within the company or simply be an investor or both. Agriculture has employed the cooperative for decades. The most outstanding and easily recognized being the kibbutz in Israel. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agricultural_cooperative It is pretty obvious that our elected representatives and big business have little to no interest in returning “made in America” to a label to be proud of, much less provide living wage jobs with benefits and security to the constituency that they are elected to represent. The benefit of a cooperative is that an individual’s smaller investment can bank roll a manufacturing company to reality, where it is very difficult for one person to realize the capital needed to fund such an undertaking. What is needed is for the next administration to attempt to recruit talent and business acumen together to go into communities and spearhead the resurrection of the cooperative, along with relaxing some the rigorous EPA obstacles and providing funding for other EPA guidelines that are most important for protecting the environment. We are a consumer driven economy. Without viable income, no one can consume very much. The economy will droop and fail. Cooperatives have the potential to breathe life back in the economy and revive the middle class, the economy and the honor of the “made in America” label.