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Visitor essay submitted by P.M.

A plea for cooperation

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A plea for cooperation:

We have wonderful examples to emulate and invest in: Credit unions, electric cooperatives, agricultural cooperatives, housing cooperatives, and insurance associations. How can we organize cooperatives, charities and humanitarian foundations to take back our world from selfish, mega corporations benefiting a few? We need to invest in what works. We need to invest in what lifts up the weakest and poorest amongst us, thereby raising us all.

For example, look at the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, which as the majority shareholder, insures the Kellogg Company invests for the long term, takes care of employees and is not ravaged by corporate raiders looking for easy profits. These easy profits are essentially stolen from all the customers, small shareholders and employees. Look at the member savings accounts of USAA. These accounts are owned by the members, held in trust and are used to provide security for thousands of former service members and their families. These two companies are rated as two of the best companies to work for in the United States. Credit unions and other cooperatives also rank right up there.

There is nothing wrong with rewarding excellence as long as the reward is invested in helping us all. The Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Institute are good examples. There is nothing wrong with capitalism, as long as the profits go towards the benefit of society. Why continue to invest our money into a corporate system that has failed to serve us all? If they are too big to fail, they are too big to allow selfish individuals to divert profits for their individual interests rather than investing profits back into the company or to improve our communities. Why do we entice our best and brightest to design and serve a system designed to fleece the public? Envision cooperatives diverting profits to national savings accounts and investing in our communities and our children. Envision humanitarian foundations controlling the direction, vision and long-term investments of large multinational corporations. Envision insurance companies run for the benefit of the policy holders instead of unreasonable returns on investment and salaries. Imagine marketing budgets invested in substance and customer service rather than in an image.

Pensions are too important to risk with investments in corporations or equity firms or banks whose risk taking and short term profit goals might destroy our life savings and retirements. How can we organize cooperatives and socially responsible foundations to take back our world from the selfish and the greedy and the cruel? It is time to take back the power to determine our fate. Why do we allow oil companies to extract public resources with little return to the nation? Why do we allow mining interests to extract what belongs to the people of underdeveloped countries and walk away without improving their society? As oil companies and banks intertwine, we suffer monopolization of our resources and usury without benefit to society. The term ?public corporation? is an oxymoron.

We are tired of Enrons, Countrywides, Madoffs, Stanfords, Keatings, AIGs, Citigroups and all the rest. We are tired of big business executives and investors whose only interest is lining their pockets at the expense of other people and the environment. These large corporations tyrannize us and have turned into the new fascist dictators. We are tired of governments who are corrupted by the prospect of personal gain and are influenced to do corporate bidding rather than concentrating on the public trust. How can we allow large corporations to have the same legal rights as an individual?

As government takes ownership in these companies, are they making themselves partners? Are governments for the benefit of our society and to ensure we are treated equally? Governments should not own these large companies. They belong to the public and to their children and their children. Do we live in a plutocracy?

Why do we invest in private jets, yachts and pleasure craft instead of fuel cell generators for communities and an improved electric grid? This distribution of wealth is unfair and unsustainable. How can we justify spending on luxuries and frivolities instead of our needs? This is not about guns versus butter. It is about excess for a few versus sustaining and nurturing life and the pursuit of happiness.

It is no small wonder why people have lost confidence in an economy that enriches a few at the expense of us all. Is this class warfare where the middle and lower class lose? We do not need investment banks or insurance companies or private equity firms that bankrupt or merge decent companies for investment gains for a few that add no value to our society. We certainly do not want or need investors whose only interest is to increase their wealth at the expense of others with no benefit to society as a whole. Are we supposed to become excited when two fifty billion dollar drug firms merge? A few people make millions and there is no benefit to society.

We do not need investors whose interest is unreasonable returns for themselves and with no benefit to our society. Investors who actually hurt our society by buying companies, increasing their debt load, and then sell off pieces leaving a ravaged shell. We certainly do not want to work for a CEO who is willing to take a yearly salary that would take another employee at the same company 500 hundred years to match. Are they pharaohs and we the slaves assembling their pyramid? Individuals whose primary interest is excess: a forth home on a lake, a million dollar boat, a private jet and a car that costs five times what most of us earn in a year.

We need investors whose interest is in making a difference in society, whose interest is in bettering our communities, whose interest is in protecting our freedom, whose interest is in helping single parents to raise their children, whose interest is in fighting diseases, whose interest lies in public service, whose interest is in secure pensions, whose interest is in improving national health, whose interest is in education.

How can we restore confidence and rebuild a kinder world designed for our benefit? What if General Motors was organized as a cooperative with no need for an adversarial relationship with a union?

Issue one share to every US citizen. 350 million at $5/share = $1.75 billion.

Issue one subordinate share to every GM employee. 300,000 at $5/share = $1.5 million.

Imagine how investors would feel about buying common stock shares in this company, legally required to act in the best interests of all US citizens and GM employees. Imagine how employee/owners would feel about working at this company. Imagine how consumers would feel about buying a car from a company in which they share ownership. Imagine the accumulation of savings as these non-redeemable shares increase in value while allowing individuals to spend their hard earned dollars on necessities. What if AIG was organized like USAA instead of the previous selfish organization and present government ownership?

We are tired of profit for personal gain at the expense of the masses instead of investment in our communities and helping people to succeed. It is time for large multinational corporations to be legally required to work for the best interests of us all rather than a few. Imagine legislation requiring public corporations to act in the best interest of the public first, their employees second and finally investors. It is time for cooperatives, charities and benevolent foundations to wrest these companies away from the selfish and the cruel and turn profits into gains for our society. We need to insure the third leg of our society, large public corporations, serve the public.

Why do we incarcerate millions of non-violent people? Why do we continue to invest in prisons instead of employing millions in jobs designed for rehabilitation, halfway houses, work release, probation and social work? Imagine a cooperative, employing millions dedicated to rehabilitating drug addicts, white-collar criminals, alcoholics and petty thieves trying to feed their families. Imagine criminals required to work for this cooperative to repay their debt to society rather than increase it.

With Love and Respect,
Citizens of the World

P.S. We are sure almost every person in the world would be satisfied to have a comfortable place to live, a fulfilling vocation, enough food to eat, decent healthcare and a safe place to raise their children. Why is this not possible?

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Initial posting: 2009-SEP-29
Latest update: 2009-SEP-29
Author: P.M.

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