We Can Change Our Future!
Co-op and Benefit Corporations
For generations now, there has been strong growth in the numbers, quality and breadth of alternate structures for businesses, beside for-profit corporations. Basically, people became jaded, and soured on organizations saying they had one mission, which people could understand and agree with, but managed from boardrooms and through management bribed with salaries and incentive schemes obscenely out of balance with wages paid to workers, to optimize profits delivered to shareholders.
Already in 2020, globally, 1 in 10 employed people worked in a co-op. One billion people were members of co-ops, a number greater worldwide than those who owned shares in publicly traded companies. Total sales of cooperatives worldwide were about $3 trillion, a sum equivalent to the total equity ownership of the 5 global tech giants: Orange, Goggle, Microhard, Azamon and MyFace.
Co-operatives are ancient ways of organizing humans around shared interests, needs and wants. Generally, a co-op’s members are its owners, managers, workers and customers. All are stakeholders. All members have a voice in what the co-op does, how, why, when, where. There are many variations.
For example, a grocery co-op may be run as a non-profit with the purpose of providing high-quality foods to member communities, at low-costs, while treating workers fairly and paying fair wages, obtaining and selling only foods from permaculture practices, using minimal and safe packaging, operating transparently, and without discrimination of any kind for any purpose.
A housing co-op may pool resources of a group of tenants to buy and operate buildings where they live. Tenants then no-longer have to experience rent increases. They can do desired and agreed upgrades. They can determine maintenance standards and schedules. They can decorate the building as desired. They can modify facilities as desired, for example, by adding gyms, hot-tubs, gardens or greenhouses. They can pool together to create shared essential aggregated green energy or ICT services solutions. The people who live there determine what goes on there, and how. Stakeholders are all represented.
Members of a community can pool interests to create and manage a community bank co-op, and members deposit their money in it, pay their bills through it, and can loan each other money with it, while managing it for security, low-costs, helping members, supporting community, or real wealth. Eliminating a profit-motive can eliminate corrupt, risky, illegal and greedy behaviors that do harm.
Co-ops have experienced explosive growth in the U.S. and the world, for decades, as those models are increasingly recognized to meet community needs and desires safely and without harms, at least as compared to greedy profit-maximizing corporate monsters run by far away, invisible, already wealthy.
Similarly, benefit corporations have also experienced explosive growth. Generally, benefit corporations are driven by other values than making money for shareholders, delivering real wealth beyond profit. Some are focused on improving sustainable and honorable practices in an industry or use of technology, some on pooling interests to meet shared needs, like for community utility services or infrastructure. Some are dedicated to mitigating harms, like cleaning up ocean gyres of plastic and other pollution. Already in 2020, there were 5,400 in the U.S.
Today, in 2060, the vast majority of organizations in the U.S. are co-ops, benefit corporations or other kinds of organizations devoted to their stated missions, which are to create real wealth, not profits. They’re owned and controlled by local stakeholders, not a far-away privileged class. Every one of them came into being because humans agreed to organize them that way, for humane purposes, rather than as tools for making money. Normal people made the decisions, organizing around human values.
Contribute information, articles, comments, suggestions, ideas and discussion on this chapter.
How do you feel after reading this information? Why do you feel that? What values are impacted? How can we change? What can we do? Where can we get more information? (Please submit any discussion on the entire We Can Change Our Future! section here.)
Please provide only constructively intended interactions addressing ideas and content, not persons. All mean-spirited interactions will be deleted, especially anything disrespectful directed toward persons interacting with this site and their qualities, rather than ideas and content. Thanks!