Economic Update: Economics of Worker Coops


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On this week's episode of Economic Update, Prof. Wolff provides updates on Macy's closing 141 stores, Clinton campaign economics, age and pensions, corruptions of think tanks. Detailed economics of worker coops.

Showing 17 comments

  • commented 2016-08-30 12:18:39 -0400
    I met with members.of the Mondragon cooperative that manufactured the metal exteriors to home appliances in Spain. They were on an extended vacation (bicycling the Camino Frances) with reduced pay as a cooperative worker discussed and approved recession slowdown. Kept on fulltime status but with adjusted lower production outputs and slight hourly reduction were according to them, workers who had families to support.

    Altruistic behavior perhaps, but the ones bicycling were pretty happy to get the additional paid leave. A normal boss would have done layoffs and no worker discussed alternatives.
    That said, the other item Spain I do not believe has adopted yet is the Land Value Tax. Which does,where it has been applied in the U.S.A. seem to be working well. Oh, and its socialistic in its control of the so called local monopoly board.
  • commented 2016-08-26 20:26:41 -0400

    Capitalist democracy allows the 51% most wealthy to own all the homes, prevents the laboring-class lower-half of society from having a permanent home and causes a forth of the children to be among the homeless or on the verge of going homeless.

    So, let us raise the minimum wage until half of the homes are owned by the impoverished lower-half of society.
  • commented 2016-08-23 00:49:52 -0400
    Mike R. I like what Marc H said about interviews with actual co-ops and with big money start up costs. I always wonder where big money will come from? Perhaps at some point the millionaires will jump on the bandwagon.
  • followed this page 2016-08-23 00:28:33 -0400
  • commented 2016-08-20 14:49:28 -0400
    I enjoy listening to the Democracy at Work shows while working on my computer on the weekends. Keep them coming…


  • commented 2016-08-20 13:38:41 -0400
    @mindweaponsinragnaro That is one of the most arrogant, self-serving things I have ever heard. I am guessing you have to keep telling yourself “workers will pay themselves too much and bleed out the company” so you can continue to pay your employees crap and not feel bad about it.
  • commented 2016-08-19 20:21:03 -0400
    @mindweaponsinragnaro If a business has a product or service that is in demand, it will sell. If after paying non-wage expenses there is no money left or is negative, go back to the drawing board. If after paying non-wage expenses there is a surplus, divide it equally. If after dividing the surplus equally there is not enough to put bread on the table and a roof over the head of each member, go back to the drawing board. If you can divide the surplus equally after expenses and have met the basic needs of each member to live, you have succeeded. The numbers don’t lie. Before a coop is even started this simple math and equal share philosophy should be well understood by all participants and agreed upon. There is nothing hidden or unfair about this. It’s simple logic.
  • commented 2016-08-19 19:45:56 -0400
    Yes heartless bastards until it comes to themselves
  • commented 2016-08-19 18:53:01 -0400
    I own a business and my experience is that, given the chance, workers will pay themselves too much and bleed out the company. People with a high time preference — those who cannot delay self gratification, are not capable of running a company, they will pay themselves the money that needs to go to paying the debts of the company. They will always have fantastic excuses, of course, their sister has cancer, their kid needs school clothes, and so on and so on. Everyone has sob stories about why they got to take more than their fair share. If you run a company based on sob stories, you will not have a company.

    The people who are able to successfully run a business have to be cheap, heartless bastards. That’s just the way it is.
  • commented 2016-08-19 16:58:18 -0400
    George White said " I have to say, without any equivocation at all, that Wolff is undoubtedly the most ignorant person I have ever heard on the topics of politics, social, and especially economics.". You must not have looked in the mirror this morning.
  • commented 2016-08-16 14:54:04 -0400
    @jeremy Wells (first post)…

    “…which feature interviews of worker co-operatives in the U.S. and overseas.”

    Prof. Wolff, while not often, has done this in the past. Even though not on Econ Update, on this site there is an interview with The People’s Ride, a ride-sharing coop in Michigan ala Uber and Lyft. Here is the link:

    Also, there is an old Econ Update where Wolff interviews Yochai Gal, who works for The Boston TechCollective, a computer servicing coop in Boston (obv). The Podcast is from April 2015 and entitled “The Worker Co-Op Alternative”. Very informative, and you can actually go to their website and download some docs about how they’re organized, bylaws, etc.

    Now, in a May 2016 podcast Wolff highlights Chobani, whose capitalist CEO (Hamdi Ulukaya), somehow, shares significant profits with workers. I’ve worked for corporations that profit-shares with the employees – some are a sham, others are more honest – but I’d like for Wolff to get this guy on the show and interview him. Would be interesting hearing from a CEO who seemingly does more in the way of pay and profit-sharing with employees than most other private capitalist companies.

    But yes, I’d like to hear more interviews with cooperative worker/owners. Not academics who study them, but those who are actually worker/owners of various coops. I’m rather surprised not to hear (or read) an interview with someone from Mondragon (Spain), the coop Wolff uses quite often as perhaps the most successful example of worker coops.
  • commented 2016-08-15 17:26:33 -0400
    To George White:
    “..the 100% across the board failure of socialism/communism that we have in abundance now.” Any 100% absolutist rant, which is often repeated unchallenged every week by the National Review panelist Tom Rogan on The McLaughlin Group corporate indoctrination program program, is by definition wrong. If White equates socialism with communism, he is making yet another common error forever promoted by the pro-capitalist mass media.

    The crises that world humanity faces today are inevitably created by the normal functioning … and now collapse… of the globalized capitalist economic system. But even capitalism is not a “100% across the board failure”.

    For the top 1/10 of 1% of the wealthiest, less than one hundred individuals, who own and control as much wealth as the bottom 3.5 BILLION people globally, capitalism is a great success!

    For the rest of humanity, the bottom 99% economically, the capitalist economic system must be replaced with a new global socialist economic system that provides a universal minimum standard of living for all people. Only then can the capitalist crises of global warming, ecological devastation, mass unemployment and poverty, unending wars for profit, and the impending threat of nuclear war, can even be addressed let alone be resolved towards human survival.
  • commented 2016-08-15 16:25:36 -0400
    @georgewhite You obviously haven’t been looking at the facts and/or have been reading the wrong textbooks. Any top-down authoritarian system will favor a few and exploit the rest. If you try and give an example of your “historical data”, I’m sure we can help you understand better the facts.
  • commented 2016-08-15 15:02:50 -0400
    I heard this program this morning on KPFT 90.1 in Houston, Texas. I ordinarily do not listen to other than music programs on KPFT; but, Wolff got my attention talking about the declining birth rates and the burden it is putting on retirement programs.

    I left the dial where it was and listened for the 45 minutes it took me to get to my dental appointment. I have to say, without any equivocation at all, that Wolff is undoubtedly the most ignorant person I have ever heard on the topics of politics, social, and especially economics. My God, the stuff he babbled totally ignores all the historical data we know about the 100% across the board failure of socialism/communism that we have in abundance now. And, he is advocating more. Is he not aware of the latest example of Venezuela? It seems he is not.

  • commented 2016-08-13 20:43:38 -0400
    Lol, Macy’s parade has left town.
  • commented 2016-08-13 17:01:19 -0400
    Please produce Economic Update programs, special documentaries for television, on-line programs, which feature interviews of worker co-operatives in the U.S. and overseas. How do these workplaces handle the economic crises forever created by the globalized capitalist economic system?

    Go beyond verbal descriptions, talking head presentations, to have co-operative workers “show and tell” how it works and what it means to life and work.
  • commented 2016-08-13 10:51:55 -0400

    For be it socialism or capitalism, without morality, democracy ends up being ruled by the 51% most intelligent and all of the land and wealth ends up being owned by the upper-half of society.

    To prove this point we need look at only the socialist Monarch of Libya. For Empire USA butchered his body for only one reason, he used so much of the oil wealth giving his working class all the benefits of socialism, free healthcare and education, free money to start a small business and a lot more, that it made Western expansion into Libya all but impossible.

    For a simple law requiring that the laboring-class lower half of society be given a minimum wage that enabled them to own a forth of the wealth, this would put sever restrictions on any form of economics.
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