25 September 2012

MYTH: Rich people, companies and countries became rich because they were smarter and worked harder.

This unspoken, unverified belief is not only widespread among the rich, but, sadly, many middle class, poor and uneducated people in the world also share it. Everyone who shares this belief will logically also believe that poor countries remain poor because their people are not as smart and do not work as hard.

The reality is quite different. For hundreds of years, the rich countries have stolen the wealth of and exploited people in the rest of the world. Imperialism, colonialism and slavery brought incredible riches to the countries that executed these.

Small-scale free enterprise encourages invention, innovation and diversity, and contributes to local communities. The economics faculties of most Western universities highlight these benefits of a transparent market in which many small firms are fully competitive. Unfortunately, since 1600 when the British East India Company and the Dutch East India Company were formed, multinational corporations have played by different rules. Fabulously lucrative, they inspired future generations of capitalists to invent ingenious strategies to turn their corporations into the most wealthy and powerful entities on the planet.

Huge multinationals have tremendous capital on hand to pour into new endeavors, a resource that can’t be matched by smaller competitors. They can produce enormous quantities of goods at lower costs, and even sell at a loss to bankrupt the competition. In most Western countries predatory pricing and other actions intended to bankrupt a competitor are illegal, but these are difficult to prove and rarely prosecuted. Even when they are prosecuted, it’s almost always too late to prevent the harm. By the time Microsoft was brought to trial for violating the Sherman Antitrust Act, it had already effectively destroyed Netscape, once the most widely used web browser.

Of course there are smart, hard-working people who are rich. There are also millions of smart, hard-working people who are poor. Capitalism works well for some people, but not for everyone. What the world needs today is economic democracy, the empowerment of people to make economic decisions that directly shape their lives and communities through locally-owned, small-scale private enterprises, worker-owned cooperatives, and publicly-managed utilities. It decentralizes decision-making and gives citizens the right to choose how their local economy should be run.

excerpted from After Capitalism: Economic Democracy in Action by Dada Maheshvarananda (Puerto Rico: Innerworld Publications, 2012).

18 September 2012

Speaking Tour of USA East Coast & Midwest Sept. 11 – Oct. 14

Speaking Tour to launch new book, After Capitalism: Economic Democracy in Action,

Dada Maheshvarananda's USA cellphone: 336-567-6912

Tues, Sept. 11 Miami: 7-8:30 pm
NPTI Technical Institute
4000 West Flagler Street,
Miami, FL
"Alternatives to the Current“

Sept. 12-13 informal talks in Miami

Sept. 14 Fly to Asheville, NC

Sat, Sept. 15, 5:45 p.m. Firestorm Co-op
48 Commerce St
Asheville, NC 28801
(828) 255-8115

7:00 p.m. Malaprop's Bookstore-Cafe
55 Haywood St., Asheville
(828) 254-6734, (800) 441-9829

Sun, Sept. 16, 12:15pm "Economic Democracy and Prout"
1:15-2:15pm "Cooperative Games Workshop"
WWD-F, 22 Ravenscroft Drive
Asheville, NC 28801
(828) 255-8777

Tues, Sept. 18 Carrboro, NC
Inter-Faith Council for Social Services
110 W. Main Street, Carrboro, NC 27510 (919) 929-6380

Wed, Sept. 19, 7:30pm
Apurva Wellness
2841 Hartland Rd. Suite 207
Falls Church, VA 22043

Thur, Sept. 20, 7pm
talk in Shanti Yoga Ashram,
4209 East-West Highway, Bethesda, MD

Fri, Sept. 21, 5pm, Talk at
Venezuelan Consulate
7 East 51st St
New York, NY 10022

Sat-Sun, Sept. 22-23 New York City

Tues, Sept. 25, 7pm
Lucy Parsons Center Bookstore
5358A Centre St.
Boston, MA - (617) 522-6098

Thur-Fri, Sept. 27-28 Northampton, MA

Sat-Sun, Sept. 29-30
Tantric Futures Boston Regional Spring Retreat
Earthdance, 252 Prospect St, Plainfield MA

Mon, Oct. 1 Chicago, IL, 6:30 pm
The Heartland Café
7000 North Glenwood Avenue, Chicago

Tue, Oct. 2, 7:00 PM
Urbana Free Library, 210 West Green Street, Urbana, IL 61801

Wed-Thur, Oct 3-4 Dayempur Farm, Carbondale, IL

Fri, Oct. 5 St. Louis, MO

Sat, Oct 6, 5pm
123 South Linn Street
Iowa City, IA 52240

Sun, Oct 7 Iowa City, IA

Mon, Oct 8 Minneapolis, MN

Tues-Wed, Oct 9-10 Mankato, MN

Thu-Sun, Oct 11-14
Economic Democracry Conference
Madison College
Madison, WI 53711

Mon, Oct. 15, fly to Caracas

08 September 2012

Speaking Tour of USA Southwest and West Coast, Nov 6-Dec 3, 2012

Speaking Tour to launch new book, After Capitalism: Economic Democracy in Action
Dada Maheshvarananda's USA cellphone: 336-567-6912

Tues-Thur, Nov 6-8 Austin, TX
Fri, Nov 9 San Antonio, TX
Sat, Nov 10 El Paso, TX
Sun-Tue Nov 11-13 Albuquerque, NM
Wed-Sat, Nov 14-17 Los Angeles, CA
Sun-Wed, Nov 18-21 San Francisco Bay Area
Thu-Sun, Nov 22-25 Eugene, OR
Mon-Wed, Nov 26-28 Olympia, WA, Evergreen State College
Thu, Nov. 29 Seattle
Fri-Sat, Nov 30-Dec 1 Vancouver, BC
Sun, Dec 2 Los Angeles, CA
Mon, Dec 3 Fly to Caracas

If you have an idea where I could speak in any of these cities, or are interested in meeting me when I am passing through, please contact me.

03 September 2012

Did you know this about co-ops?

Throughout the twentieth century and until today, cooperatives have been mostly invisible, ignored by the mass media and political leaders who are more interested in power, fame and control. Yet more than one billion people, a sixth of our global population, are members of co-ops. The world’s largest non-governmental organization is the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), representing 246 national and international organizations...

Cooperatives provide over 100 million jobs around the world, 20 percent more than multinational enterprises. Cooperatives are also more likely to succeed than privately-owned enterprises. In the United States, 60-80 percent of companies fail in their first year, while only 10 percent of cooperatives fail during that period. After five years, only three to five percent of new U.S. corporations are still in business, while nearly 90 percent of co-ops remain viable. [World Council of Credit Unions, Statistical Data: United States Credit Union Statistics, 1939-2002.]..

The NAFTA agreement of 1994 caused Mexico to charge co-ops twice the tariffs that they charged private enterprises, requiring them to carry expensive life insurance on every member–in effect tripling their total tax burden. Since then the legal status of cooperatives in Mexico has changed continually, sometimes yearly. NAFTA does not allow Mexico to subsidize coffee or corn growers, even though the US government subsidizes their own corn growers as well as coffee growers in Vietnam. Brazilian law requires a minimum of 25 members to incorporate a cooperative, compared to Venezuela, which requires only five. In countries with discriminatory legal structures, most would-be cooperatives are forced to register as an association, “civil society” or something else, with no legal protections...

Laws concerning cooperatives are different in every country; in fact some laws were written to hinder and block cooperatives. Those who wish to start a cooperative should first consult their national association of cooperatives and visit successful co-ops, ideally those which operate in the same sector, to learn as much as possible from the experience of others. These experienced cooperative workers can also advise about psychological ways to win the support of the local people.

Cooperatives benefit the community at large by creating jobs, retaining wealth and increasing social connections among the inhabitants. The practice of economic democracy in co-ops raises awareness of democratic issues among the workers as well as in the wider community.

excerpted from After Capitalism: Economic Democracy in Action by Dada Maheshvarananda (Puerto Rico: Innerworld Publications, 2012).