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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Participatory Economics

I am taking business courses at the local technical college and alternative business models are not mentioned in any class. Not one, and I think it is a shame. It is quite clear that in the minds of these teachers, there is no alternative to market capitalism. I am trying to discuss this issue with anyone that will listen.

This doesn't really deal with market capitalism, but I think it is worth telling anyway. Today I did an exercise that, I assume, was supposed to strengthen my management skills. It involved a company that noticed it was losing a significant amount of money each month. Anyway, the text went on to explain that many companies try and "fix the problem" without really defining what the problem is. It explained in great detail a 7 step process to fix problems. The fake business in the problem was having issues with the production managers blaming the accountants for losing the money and vice versa. They decided that the managers had to work together to fix the problem. To make a long story short, they did and the problem got fixed. But one thing that seemed ridiculous to me is that towards the end of the 7 steps they recommended a workshop for the employees to brief them on the problem and how they fixed it. It didn't make sense because the way that they figured out how to fix the hypothetical problem was to ask the employees. A manager, in passing, mentioned the problem to a floor employee and right away they figured out the answer. It was something to do with the machines that he or she was operating. So if they would have had employee input from the beginning the problem would have been solved months before the managers figured out what was going on. Worker run businesses would not only be more productive, but also more efficient. No one in class mentioned this. The text didn't either.

I have paying for a capitalist education and spending most of my time studying different worker-led movements, like council communism, for free. One thing that has really got me interested is participatory economics. Here are some videos with Parecon's co-founder Michael Albert explaining it a bit. Any thoughts?

Graeme Anfinson


link | posted by Jae at 10:14 AM |


5 Comments:

Blogger Renegade Eye commented at 2:54 PM~  

I have my doubts if that type of economy could happen without revolution.

Blogger GraemeAnfinson commented at 9:07 PM~  

You are probably right. I believe starting up small businesses with this type of business plan is possible though. I know in Winnipeg they have a few businesses run this way.

Blogger sumo commented at 10:50 PM~  

I feel the same as Renegade. Why is it that the so called "underlings" are automatically relegated to the bottom of the intellect scale? Just because someone isn't executive doesn't make them any smarter that's for sure. Just look at Trump as an example. Maybe that employee was Will Hunting. Have to admit your thoughts on this are very interesting...made me consider things differently.

Blogger CB commented at 8:57 AM~  

It isn't taught because it doesn't work.

As for Revolution:

Stalin had one
Mao had one
Pol Pot had one
Castro had one
Ho Chi Mihn had one
Kim Il Sung had one
Daniel Ortega had one

Market capitalism affords you the opportunity to whistfully opine, something you would never be able to do under the aforementioned regimes.

They certainly achieved one of your goals though; with the exception of the ruling elite, income equality was achieved...everyone was poor. dead or in jail.

Blogger GraemeAnfinson commented at 10:06 PM~  

It isn't taught because it doesn't work

Care to elaborate why?

All one has to do is look at China today to debunk the "capitalism = freedom" myth. There is no reason a participatory economic system couldn't maintain the traditional liberal values we hold dear.

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