Category Archives: Labour Theory of Value

Vancouver’s Co-Working Co-op Stimulates Worker Empowerment

Coworking gratis? A Verona da settembre!Tuesday night in the back room of The Tipper bar/bistro/restaurant on Kingsway at Victoria we are holding our Inception Meeting for a new kind of co-working space in Vancouver, one structured as a co-op.

You can read about the project in The Georgia Straight piece last week, and on the project webpage at Incipe, the consulting workers’ co-op that is spawning this co-op. Incipe, in-CHEE-pay, is Latin for “Begin!” And you can register for the [free] meeting here. And if you want to be involved and informed, you can sign up for the e-newsletter here.

We will be starting forming the community of people eager to take part in a new way of doing co-working, as equal owners of the whole enterprise instead of clients of for-profit corporate co-working spaces, which are how most of the world’s co-working spaces are run.

But considering the fact that people who work, study, think, research, and volunteer from home are often disempowered and vulnerable, they need support.

So they gravitate to co-working spaces because of possibilities of serendipity and synergy and connecting with people to envision greatness with, over coffee. Because trying to do that in a Starbucks has a slim chance of much success.

But one of the key principles of co-working is to build community. And why do we have communities? To support each other.

And, it turns out, co-ops are all about building community and supporting each other in democratic workplaces within an intentional progressive economic climate.

So there’s a natural fit to building a co-working space that is a co-op. And it’s also natural to convene the space for people who understand this, to get to know one another and start building the community so that we can all assess our collective needs, desires, dreams, visions and capacity for mutual aid and support.

From this, we will do the heavy lifting to find our co-working space.

So, consider how precarious work has become for so many people!

It has been a rough couple generations for working people, with a notable increase in precariousness of work.

Downsizing, contracting out, layoffs, people in the middle of their working lives being flung through the windows of corporate towers only to have a difficult time finding work because employers may prefer to hire much younger people.

And while many people choose the freelance, contractor, entrepreneur consultant lifestyle, many people who’ve been canned are forced into fending for themselves, trying to leverage their skills, training and experience into something useful. They are one form of the precariat: the precarious proletariat.

Others in the precariat class include young people who typically can’t get work in their fields they have trained in, or find corporate or organizational structures grotesquely tyrannical and impediments to optimizing their work-life-activism elements of existence. They end up being precariats too. Our Incipe consulting co-op itself formed out of this very dynamic!

So our goals in creating a co-working co-op space include these:

  1. Helping people work outside their homes.
  2. Helping people have meaningful ownership.
  3. Helping people feel some community in their labouring.
  4. Helping people connect with others who can build synergy with each other.

But one of the most important goals in this whole project is to recognize that workers are disempowered, disconnected and devalued. And to fix that, we need to build support networks for people. And one of the ways to do that is to build a co-working space that is co-operatively owned, just like MEC or your credit union or Modo or other small and massive co-ops around the world.

So, scroll back up to see the links to getting more information about our co-working space in development. Get involved, because we need you and your originality!

And whether you need a 24/7 space or a desk away from home for a few hours each week that costs about as much as the coffee you need to buy to camp out on Starbucks’ wifi, this ownership model is for you.

Remember, co-working is about empowerment. And so are co-ops!

The Occupy Movement Has Changed the Narrative, But We’re Not Done

Recently, with the WEF spending the last few years acknowledging global income inequality is a problem, I’ve declared a kind of victory for the Occupy Movement: getting the lexicon on the 1% and inequality on the tongues of the sly gazillionaires who rule the world, and into mass consumption.

Now we see that the CEO of Goldman Sachs, one of the biggest cancers of neoliberal capitalism and a prime mover of the 2008 crash, has admitted that income inequality is a problem and a destabilizer. Sadly, though not surprisingly, in this interview he also trotted out typical neoliberal “realities” of globalization, making the economic pie grow [but growth and decline lead to unequal distribution], outsourcing and winner-take-all-capitalism. And repugnantly, he lamented [sniff] how “if there was a lever to pull and a button to push…” then he continued with a babble of phrases and jargon, but what he was implying is that we’d just pull that lever and fix it all. But he also implied there is no lever/button.

But guess what, Lloyd Blankfein, there is. Wait for it…just redistribute income.

He even said in the interview that economies need to grow [not so, say the Steady Staters, including me] and they need to distribute the income properly. But how does one make a market/economy distribute income properly? It’s NEVER been from the voluntary goodness of the 1% or their compradors.

We’ve had to fight for it, either through social movements, unionization or government regulation. We’ve had to take it from the rich.

Here’s the lever, Mr. Blankfein: raise taxes. Raise them on the rich, on the corporations, on the $1.5 trillion, yes TRILLION, in cash that US corporations are just sitting on. Raise them to generate some income to create some public goods: a robust public education system, a public healthcare system, subsidies for green energy and transit development, a stronger welfare and unemployment insurance system so people can live in dignity. Arts, culture, solar roadways, home retrofitting, organic food development, funding a gap year for volunteerism, providing amnesty and language/job training for illegal immigrants. How about that, for a start?

Then increase the minimum wage to a living wage.

How’s that for addressing income inequality, Mr. Goldman Sachs apologist spin doctor?

Well, he’s a smart guy, but instead of suggesting all these OBVIOUS undergraduate economics solutions, he said there is no lever or button.

What a liar.

Now that we’ve got these liars talking about income inequality, but trying to spin us into believing there’s nothing we/they can do about it, let’s get busy.

If you scroll back up to the top right corner of this webpage, you’ll see that 85/116 people voting [albeit, a self-selecting non-random sample], felt we should reboot Occupy Vancouver. But it’s really 84 because I voted twice, each on a different browser. Sorry.

And if 10% of those 84 people joined us in rebooting Occupy Vancouver, along with building our affinity network starting with Occupy Ottawa, we can move to the next phase of the Occupy Movement highlighted by the 3 month Wave of Action: actually DOING something about income inequality. And if you wonder what we CAN do, see my list, above. But there’s so much more!

So if you’d like to catch up on the Occupy Vancouver reboot, and [as a bonus] if you’ve already dumped Facebook, we’re looking at the Wave of Action platform to do our organizing. And you’re free/encouraged to join us!

The platform feels a bit┬álike Facebook, but it’s owned by everyone and we have control over our privacy. Once you get in, search for Vancouver and connect up so we can see where to go next with the agenda of doing something that the lying spinning 1% want to convince us we can’t do: fix income inequality and get more economic, social, political and environmental justice in the world.

Honing In On Friday’s #WaveOfAction

We need to think about two things for this Friday’s Occupy Movement reboot in the Worldwide #WaveOfAction:

  1. When thinking about pursuing social, political and economic equality, what is the list of things we need to change, locally, regionally, nationally and internationally?
  2. Who do we need to build coalitions with to listen to them, support them, empower them; and who will convene the meetings?

And instead of wondering who’s got your back, figure out whose back you need to protect.

There are two days left. No rush, because Friday is just the start of the 3-month Wave that culminates on July 4th; and you know what THAT day means.