The Ownership Society

October 2, 2006

That was the buzz a few years ago from the White House. They, meaning the kleptocrats and their Wall St. friends, wanted to open up the locked box of Social Security and allow people to “invest” their social safety net into the market place. Certainly, the market can do a much better job of helping people prepare for retirement than the government (oh, excuse me: tha gubnint). So, came the pronouncement from the CEO of USA, Inc. that he would create an “ownership society” in which people had a sense of owning their destiny.
Of course, the “ownership society” already exists. It shows up in the forms of cooperative business structures as grocery stores, HMO’s, bakeries, engineering firms, home nursing, home care, cab companies and a host of other businesses. It also provides lower cost housing and, in some case, acess to automobiles. Of course, the idea of collective ownership isn’t what the “ownership society” is about. It is about paying a company a fee to manage your money and hoping that they manage it correctly. Isn’t a true ownership society about taking economic control of one’s life and not just handing money over to a private firm who charges a fee?

Here is a fun essay about the Co-operative Ownership Society.

After a false start in April, this space will continue. I have recently entered St. Mary’s University’s Masters of Management: Co-operative and Credit Union’s program. It appears to have been created to develop strong management practices for the co-op world. Prior to this course work, the only option was the tradtional M.B.A. which pulled its co-op minded (and funded) students away from their cooperatives and toward their capitalist competitors. In addition, I have become more active with the movement. Expect to hear more about both in the coming months.

About John McNamara

John spent 26 years with Union Cab of Madison Cooperative and currently helps develop co-op in the Pacific Northwest. He holds a Masters in Management: Co-operatives and Credit Unions from Saint Mary's University and hopes to finish his Ph.D. in Business Administration soon. He has served on the board of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives and the Board of Governors for the Democracy at Work Network. He currently sits on the Co-op Circle and Mission Circle for Sociocracy for All. He teaches on worker co-operatives and democratic management in the summer at The Evergreen State College.
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