A vanlifer I follow recently installed a freezer. I’m watching because it’s interesting and I like knowing how this is done, but I don’t plan on putting in a freezer, either into my tiny house or any future van.
One of my primary principles is to reduce electricity needs to the very barest minimum, so that production and storage of electricity is the barest minimum. I don’t want to fool with big batteries and huge solar arrays.
The ancestors, who didn’t have refrigeration, also hunted and fished and traveled with meat, so I’d like to learn to do it their way, by drying and canning. For example …
So yesterday I watched a video of a startup webinar from the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives. What the presenter is talking about seems a lot bigger than what I’m thinking of, but in the Q&A portion, he did say that 3-7 members to start off was a good size, so maybe not.
I’m thinking of a trades cooperative, with an administrator (me, since that’s my skill), an electrician, a plumber, and a carpenter. Maybe one other, since I like an odd number for voting purposes. A brick-and-tile specialist?
I’ve noticed that a lot of independent tradespeople lack the organization to do things like follow up on estimates or reschedule appointments, adjust schedules, that sort of thing. That’s got to be costing them a lot of business.
And while they keep all the proceeds when freelancing, they have to fool with all the stuff that’s outside their skillset. Banding together in a cooperative sounds like a way better alternative than taking employment at a typical business. The pay would be better and profit is shared. And they don’t answer the phone or manage the calendar or send the invoices.
Could I start by freelancing the administration? And then after doing a good job for a while, sell them on the security of a coop, with the benefits of things like health insurance.
I want to ask them, “Are you completely insane?” You want people in the DC area, with a cost of living surely higher than mine in coastal Carolina, to obtain a bachelor’s degree so they can aspire to make a pittance and barely get by? Those last two salaries are probably sufficient down here, but they can’t be up there, and the rest of them represent struggle even here.
Why would I go in hock for an education to make just enough to continue struggling? This is crazy!
And then again, those salaries are for employment. If the administrator were working for a coop with profit sharing, that could be a lot better.
But I’m still not falling for this degree nonsense.
I should point out that this degree is meant to be sought after by people “working the industrial trades who want to start and manage their own businesses.” So this is supposed to be supplemental education for those who already got proficiency at their trade. And yet the above makes it look like a step down for their livelihood rather than a step up.
By the way, I found out after I had ordered it that this book is available as a free PDF if you diligently search for it. Oh well.
So the idea I wonder about is: will the revolution come by out-capitaling the capitalists? Do we buy/build the means of production rather than seizing them? Do we take business plans and organizations etc. and strike out the C-suite and replace every instance of “owner” with “members” — the members being the worker-owners? Do we replace boards of directors with workers’ councils?
Right now there’s a “labor shortage” that isn’t a real shortage at all. It’s a glut of crap jobs. Nobody wants crap jobs and with the pandemic on, many feel free to retrain and take employment elsewhere, where the pay, benefits, and company culture are better.
Capitalism loves to mistreat employees because they don’t deserve better, in its mindset. It doesn’t see them as generators of stolen labor. Worker-owned businesses with better pay, benefits, culture, and PROFIT SHARING?!?!?! Those stand a fine chance to out-compete capitalist enterprises for their labor. I mean, where would YOU like to work?
If you take all that money and respect that is currently funneled straight to the C-suite and executives and instead distribute it to the workers, what would you get?
I am learning about mutual aid cooperatives stepping in where governments fail us. In the motel model from the last entry, what if an education cooperative ran a school in the off-hours in the restaurant? This could become super important as more and more states refuse to let their schools teach science and history.
My home state has no recycling; could we form a recycling cooperative?
What else could we pitch in together on? It blows my mind how things like this are stigmatized as “other” when US pioneers and farmers know damn well about barn raising and volunteer fire departments. Pitching in together was how Indigenous people did things on Turtle Island. If I understand correctly, there weren’t necessarily rich people or rich families, but rich villages and tribes. That completely makes sense.
I’ve been having a lot of thoughts about these things, and I’m so ignorant. There’s so much theory, but I want to study practice. I want to study best practice, lessons learned. What worked and what failed. What basic principles are sound and what ones are shaky.
Surely somebody has done a basics curriculum, right?
I don’t know what the starter business should be that begins the LLC, but there should probably be one.
Give the LLC a capitalist name like Fillmore Investment Group.
Each employee of the LLC receives one vote in representation.
The LLC buys a motel.
The LLC makes any necessary improvements.
The LLC sells the units as condos, retaining ownership of the infrastructure elements and the restaurant, if any.
If it’s illegal in a location to sell a condo that has no kitchen, the LLC can alternatively sell owner shares in the LLC which come with the benefit of a specific unit.
Each unit (or member) receives one vote in representation.
The LLC charges a fee for maintenance and insurance.
If there is a restaurant, the LLC rents out the restaurant, preferably to a cooperative.
If the budget allows, the rent from the restaurant can support maintenance and insurance, and the occupant-owners. need not pay a fee.
The LLC rents out their laundry facility to a cooperative business.
Any self-help laundry facilities remain available for the occupant-owners.
The proceeds from condo/share sales and facility rentals not only go to repay the LLC’s original mortgage to obtain the motel, but also may be used to purchase an additional motel and start the cycle over again.
Each motel participates in direct democracy to make decisions affecting the whole location.
Each motel elects a representative to a council that directs the activities of the LLC.
If an LLC employee buys into a condo, do they get two votes?
How big can the LLC sustainably get?
Do the restaurant and the laundry get votes?
If so, does each business get one vote?
Do the representatives go to the location’s council, the LLC’s council, or both?
I cannot possibly be the first person to think of this. Who else has drawn up plans?
I did not post an update when I added new buttons to the soundboard. I did update howtheycantalk.org but not here. Anyway, we’ve added Water and Toy. Sophie actually did press Water the other day when I asked her to because I knew the bowl was empty (and she cares about that more than Kai does). The look on her face every time I do that says she understands, but I don’t think she understands yet that the buttons are for her to tell me things. Right now buttons are something I use before I do something she’s interested in. Like a warning or something.
Sumbish! I went and ordered a physical copy of Workers’ Councils by Anton Pannekoek because it wasn’t available as a Kindle edition. Just found out I could have read it for free right here at libcom.org. Don’t pay when you don’t have to.
As of today, Sophie and Kai have three buttons, two of which Sophie has used on purpose occasionally.
Those are Outside, Walk and Park. The chart at TheyCanTalk shows Outside and Walk as “Where” words, but we use these as “Doing” words (go outside, go for walk), so that’s how our tiles are set up.
We have a new Park button because the old one is acting up. I dunno if the battery needs changing or the button was damaged in the many trips. Sometime I’ll take time to look at it. While we were in Eden, with nothing even remotely like a Park available, I had repurposed it as a second Boop button to help Kai with target training. But I’m running out of buttons now. More are on order.
Sophie has been asking me for water with her voice and face a lot lately, so I wanted to introduce Water soon. But caveats:
It’s better to introduce words in pairs.
It’s better to hold off on food buttons if a learner is highly food oriented, as Sophie is.
We’ve been verbally modeling Play and All Done a lot lately.
So our order is probably going to be more like:
Walk and Park
Water and Toy
Play and All Done
And so on from there, but I’m waffling on the mixing and matching of items in 3 and 4 since we more heavily use “water” and “all done” verbally. How much does it matter, though?