Economic Update: Worker Coops Vs. Capitalism

On this week's Economic Update, Prof. Wolff provides updates on declining US incomes, parental leave policies, rising medical deductibles, social security dependence, officials who take big, corp jobs. Interview with Peter Ranis author of Cooperatives Against Capitalism."

Showing 11 comments

  • Linda Jamin
    commented 2016-09-25 05:35:50 -0400
    Russel said: "Pauli, the point of a free online university is to secure for everyone a lifetime access to education this is something fundamentally traditional schooling cannot offer.
    This free online university can work with current school systems for lab work and skills testing. "

    Institutions of learning can be / SHOULD be cooperatives too. Democratic participation in the learning process by students is what real “student centered” educational strategies are about. That’s the only way we learn at any age and there are infinite ways to restructure our schools at every level in order to provide that kind of learning environment. Unfortunately there are enormous socio-economic obstacles preventing us from doing so. The fact that our social institutions are NOT democratic is the explanation for why we can’t seem to reform them in a timely fashion.
  • Linda Jamin
    followed this page 2016-09-25 05:25:35 -0400
  • Christian Caporrimo
    commented 2016-09-21 11:13:37 -0400
    @marc H: Markets have their place in some industries. Healthcare, defense, law enforcement, disaster recovery, food (not restaurants), clothing, and shelter are among those industries that should NOT succumb to a market. Markets inherently demand the existence of service levels and service levels imply class separations. The list above represents the industries where there should be no separation of classes and service levels. These industries should all provide the absolute best possible product/service to all people in society.

    That being said, there are plenty of industries where markets do provide the best method of determining distribution but only in our current paradigm. With technology being at the level it is, we aren’t far from being able to fully automate a distribution system in which a purely planned economy based on resource availability and demand can supplant the “winner / loser / class-reliant” market system. The biggest problem with planned economies of the past was that they were implemented in technologically inferior societies [relative to the modern day] that didn’t even have a solidly built / capital-intensive infrastructure. In fact, a planned economy has never been attempted in a society that already has a mature, coordinated, and highly capitalized structure. Markets only seem like the best solution due to many factors not the least being capital encirclement of societies with planned economies and the conditions of said societies at the inception of their planned systems.
  • Christian Caporrimo
    commented 2016-09-21 10:31:52 -0400
    With health insurance, let’s not forget the “maximum out of pocket” policies and “co-insurance”. I’m not sure the average, but from what I’ve seen, it’s between 20-40% for “co-insurance”. In other words, even after your deductible, you still pay 20-40% of medical costs for many things. The only exceptions being routine internist and simple preventative care. Even ambulance rides cost people “co-insurance”! The only way the insurance companies can get this past the public is to have a “maximum out of pocket” of which (I think) the average is 7-8k for a family.

    So on top of your monthly contributions, and copays, you can potentially pay another $7000 to $8000 dollars a year on medical coverage. What is the median household salary again? 53k? So roughly 20-25% of the median income can potentially be spent by a worker on their healthcare every year. Due to monthly IV treatments, we hit our “max out of pocket” by March every year so we actually see some value from our insurance. But most people will probably end up paying their “co-insurance” every time they see a health professional.

    Of course, none of this even touches on the idea of “in network / out of network”; something the pro-private-insurance folks never seem to answer to. The fact is that the very existence of these “networks” limits choice and makes the entire construct of wellness extremely constrictive. The worst, though, are the fantasy-driven “pure free market” drones who think that a pure free market would fix all these problems. They, too, seem to ignore the fact that markets can only exist with winners AND losers. Losers in the realm of health and wellness would probably not fare well making the general population a lot more susceptible to illness, disease, and injury.

    This is, of course, all true unless you have the high income to buy the most expensive “gold level” coverage. It’s really sickening to me. I’m actually shocked that we haven’t seen a real life “John Q” yet (Denzel Washington film).
  • Duane Law
    commented 2016-09-18 11:56:43 -0400
    The untold story of the flattening of the historical inflation curve in US health care costs is the slashing of payments to providers over the last two decades.

    Insurers now commonly pay docs 30-50% of what they were being paid two decades ago in inflation adjusted terms. The only exception to this are hospital-based physicians, who by banding together are able to achieve enough market-power in a local area to resist this race-to-the-bottom pressure.

    The impact on the rest of us includes demoralized docs doing assembly-line medicine relying on outdated 20th century algorithms. There has been twenty years of progress in understanding the genesis and progression of chronic disease … but you won’t find out about any of this in most clinics.

    Hint: the standard american diet is highly pro-inflammatory, as is our exposure to a broadening and deepening bioaccumulation of industrial toxins, which tend to bioaccumulate in our bodies.
  • Marc Hudgens
    commented 2016-09-17 17:42:44 -0400
    Like Leonardo Legorreta earlier, I too am grateful for the interview with Peter Ranis. Indeed his views were eye-opening regarding unions. That unions essentially approve of the existence of capitalists because they believe they are the lone vehicles that bring development I find true. Indeed we need markets, but not capitalists. Worker co-ops prove this. The idea that cooperatives teach class consciousness in a real-life way to all kinds of people across the entire spectrum, and not in the normal academic, ideological way that goes largely dismissed almost immediately, makes sense.

    I’ve always wondered myself if unions, who has historically taken on management as their enemy, have had it wrong. In reality, it’s not management who is the worker’s biggest foe, it’s the owner(s). Semantic perhaps, but I recall an Economic Update where Prof. Wolff was telling about a Ohio supermarket (can’t recall the name) who threatened its own management with cutting their pay by 60% or something outlandish if the workers were successful in forming a union. It’s this kind of thing that might cause a management/worker coalition to take on the ownership. Reminds me of what Howard Zinn wrote about in The People’s History of the United States, in that our country in its early years had a massive wealth gap many times, the few elite and the poor masses, and that the rich basically created a middle class to act as a buffer between them and the poor. Of course those were largely along racial lines to pit poor whites against poor blacks in order to keep the wealthy from being touched, but it worked. Much like business ownership, in that it creates a ‘middle’ management level to, in no small part, act as the buffer between them and the workers. I realize it’s more complex than this, perhaps, but the similarity didn’t go unnoticed. So perhaps its time for unions to consider the distinct possibility that management might be more like them than like ownership. If this Ohio supermarket is any indication.
  • Pauli Olivet
    commented 2016-09-17 14:18:40 -0400

    With many different crypto-currencies circulating, does starting new currencies have side affects similar to quantitative easing? Can average users have reasonable security and anonymity?

    Is investing in crypto-currency akin to gambling with a short-stack and not a clue what the house and the “professionals” are really doing?
  • Pauli Olivet
    commented 2016-09-17 14:07:19 -0400
    Free online Uni. ? Well, yes for a few things like “General Studies”, but we need labs (science, computers, and others), face-to-face meeting space (even just for discussion some of the time), space for hands-on collaboration, workshops (art and …), theatres (plays, dance, music, …), sport and recreation venues (sport clubs, not so much corporate sport exploiting the system), physical libraries (Yes, still, and for everyone; give public electronic subscriptions to published scholarship too). We still need brick and mortar Unis, but we need to run them by and for the public (real people, not corporate crooks). University of California used to state on web pages that they were serving all umpteen million Californians. Well, hardly! They exploit the public in myriad ways too numerous to count. CA state is very much complicit. We need to correct state, local, and federal policies to rebuild education from cradle to grave. So, if someone needs a couple professional degrees and a couple doctorates, we work together to justify how it will contribute to society (not dollars); and we fund it! Hundreds of years of slavery (and continuing) have taught us something different, but ignorance, bigotry, and exploitation have cost us far more than educating us all to progress together.

    Universities can also act as anchor institutions to help develop co-ops. They have building space, contracts and partnerships in their communities, integration in state governments, contracts and partnerships around the world sometimes. States seem to use universities to liaise with businesses, but maybe the public should maneuver to get states to serve people and the real economy through universities. Maybe state universities really could serve all the people in their respective state.
  • Martin Screeton
    followed this page 2016-09-17 13:35:35 -0400
  • Maria Carnemolla-Mania
    commented 2016-09-16 21:50:54 -0400
    Glad you enjoyed the interview!
  • Leonardo Legorreta
    commented 2016-09-16 21:00:42 -0400
    Thank you for introducing us to Peter Ranis.

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