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#21 [url]

Aug 19 12 6:49 PM

Perhaps I misunderstood the meaning of this 

A superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions - Confucius

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#25 [url]

Aug 21 12 10:44 AM

It think it's important to talk about personal economics in the context of sustainability-- too often to conversation gets dominated by "growing one's food" and while sure, that's constructive if it's "economically sensible" or as some attempt to cushion the impacts of potential supply disruption-- I generally in most cases think it's largely a diversionary fashion statement that serves only to bleed off the emotional energy rightly stimulated by the hazards of the current world-- towards largely trivial ends. The bigger issue is economics, for sure, certainly at least in the near term. I emphasize that especially because I personally would really enjoy avoiding the utopia of spear and loincloth "grow your own food" kind of living, really!

I guess what I see for modern business entrepreneurialism is likely cooperative efforts, largely without a management caste, where pooled resources of the handfuls of owners gain necessary scale for competition in a world without finance-- basically one will be forced to purchase a job.

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#27 [url]

Aug 21 12 10:26 PM

Sure. There's a million possible examples and I don't mean to pretend that any of them would work-- but 10 pissed off school teachers could pony up 100k worth of leverage each and start a charter school, right? And of course be self managed and the rest. The key is that once you eliminate the owner from the employee boundary(very arbitrary) you find there's huge gains to be had in the model, and why collectivism will always win in the long game.

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#29 [url]

Aug 22 12 9:44 AM

All the above, but I imagine just making a living and remaining economically competitive, and it seems the natural "next step" in doing so is eliminating the costs of an ownership/management class, which often returns little value. 

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#30 [url]

Aug 22 12 11:21 AM

These ideas might look good on paper, but the real world isn't black and white.

We are currently having that ownership/management problem at the retail end of things.  Several of us make high end stuff to be sold at the local farmer's market.   (Low end stuff isn't profitable when one factors in how much time it takes to make it.)  Our seller at the market was taking a certain percentage to cover the costs of the market and everything was going well.  We were making enough to get by, they were selling more stuff and making a little off of the stuff they didn't have to make themselves, etc.  Things were good.  

Then, the seller wanted time off so they hired a person to sell for them at the market.  However, they didn't want to make less money than before when they had been doing the selling at the market so they raised their percentage to cover the wages of the fellow now doing the work they had been doing.   
That has been the root of the problem and I can't figure out a way around it.  There is only a certain amount folks will pay for things and if the prices are set at a point that will pay for the worker and the person no longer doing the work, then the items don't sell.  So, the owner wants us to lower our prices so they can afford the worker.  If we lower our prices, we aren't making ends meet.  So, what's the answer?

Form a collective of two or three?  Find more folks and start a co-op?  That takes more time and effort and will probably cost more than just sucking up the loss incurred by the hire of the new worker.  Going to market every Saturday is a huge effort, there are costs involved - fuel, market set up fee, tables, pavilion, etc.,plus are all of the folks producing stuff to sell decent sellers?  There doesn't seem to be an existing co-op to join.  We don't really produce enough to stock our own table at the market, not on a consistent basis anyway.  So the co-op of our small group wouldn't be viable on a weekly market basis.  The more people you get, the more effort it takes to keep them together, I'd think.

At the moment, I've pulled most of my stuff out of the market and am looking for other venues to sell it but most of them have the same sorts of problems.  They want so much out of the sales price that it isn't economical to make the items.  There is one which has a lower percentage rate, but they don't do any paperwork or keep track of what they've been given to sell.  Occasionally, they send a check but then I haven't a clue what the check was for or what they have left, etc.  This is consignment sales since if they buy it outright they pay a lot less since if it doesn't sell they are stuck with it.  To get the highest prices, we can't directly wholesale since we don't have the production quantity for wholesale.

This would equate to a small farmer with a small crop.  He has more than he needs yet not enough to set up shop himself.  What's to be done?

We will work something out, no doubt, but at the moment we are looking for better answers than what we have now.

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#31 [url]

Aug 22 12 12:42 PM

The solution Chooks is to get with this vendor's other suppliers and locate a motivated personable (so they can sell) individual and replace the person that needs to take time off or replace him yourself, selling your products at a higher margin and also selling the products of the other suppliers.

One of the problems I have with a "collectivism" solution is that it usually ignores the differences in personalities of the group involved and their needs (for example the vendor that wanted time off but wanted everyone else to pick up the tab). From what I've seen from large corporations and bureaucracies, treating everyone as equals (no benefits for extra merit/effort), it becomes a rush to the lowest common denominator. Owners/bosses give the focus on discipline and long term goals (though this is lacking in today's world, and we are bloated with middle management).

We will never have full employment with the current level of population. Even with our overheated consumerism due to slave labor overseas and free credit we do not have enough work to go around. You could easily fire 25 - 50% of the current US employees and see limited effect to the services provided (we produce so little domestically except paperwork).

I don't see a solution for society as a whole, especially with the current system still in existence. If you were able to remove the current corporate oligarchy there might be a chance for productive change on a larger scale. As it is they have the rules set up to discourage starting up your own (whether yourself or a group of hive minded people) business beyond a micro scale due to regulation, limitations on capital building (discouraged to save and limited in your ability if you wanted to), and unfair competition. For an individual I think you have to go with Chooks plan of multiple micro streams of income, lowering your capital outlays (don't spend), and staying nimble on your economic feet able to grab the crumbs where they will allow you to.



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#32 [url]

Aug 22 12 7:32 PM

Well, the person wanting the time off started the farmer's market booth and ran it as a one person operation for several years, we just provide her a few more things to sell, so it's not like we can replace her.  The farmer's market rules are that each booth can only miss two markets per season, so she could only miss eight markets per year.  That gets pretty grueling (I can see why she wanted time off).  She was also still providing a lot of the stuff sold there, too, so it's not like she can be arbitrarily replaced, especially since all the market paperwork is in her name and the market won't let anyone else in to sell competing items.

I have a new possible market to sell the yarn and knitted things as well as a bunch of this other stuff we gather up here and there.  Someone is opening a new shop in town where she will sub-let a space in her shop for other folks to sell things.  For a small flat fee each month, I'll be able to get an 8' x 8' space in her shop where I can sell things.  That will be a space to sell all the stuff now going to the farmer's market as well as things we have here that we don't want anymore or the stuff that we've gathered up intending to list it on eBay or Craig's List.  And she will sub-let to a small group so several of us can share the 8' x 8' space.  At a reasonable flat monthly fee so no worries about commissions and percentages.  This should be much better than the farmer's market and had the person at the farmer's market not have changed, we'd still be doing percentages.  Ha!  

So, any pirates out there want in on this?  Send me a PM and I'll let you know details.

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#34 [url]

Aug 22 12 10:52 PM

That looks like some interesting reading.  Seeing how folks looked at things is always interesting.

Oh!  Back to the markets thing, this is a different market that I forgot to mention.  The Alpaca Open House is going to be an Alpaca Open House & Fiber & Craft Festival as well.  This is the first year they are having a craft fair so they are letting folks set up a table for free.  You're supposed to sell locally made or locally grown things, though.  Is this anything the pirates would be interested in?  It is scheduled for the last weekend in September on Saturday and Sunday and is in Ahualoa above Honokaa.

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#35 [url]

Aug 22 12 10:57 PM

Jay - I'm glad you shared that co-op pamphlet. The 'meme' or whatever, of collectivism and individualism as somehow mutually exclusive, seems to have a real hold in the discussion of how to move forward. People grasping the validity of both sides of this will be the ones to evolve I'd think. Hell if I know though, maybe through gnarly circumstance/events, it will become a moot point.

Nonetheless, the potential for post-industrial coops seems huge. While I'm unclear about the "purchasing" versions (due to centralized players hard to compete with); the "servicing" and "producing" cooperatives would seem to be natural way to go forward.

As a teacher (or parent for that matter), one can easily see the degradation to learning through the imposition of the middlemen. I mean for learning, the fact is an administration is not necessary, or desirable. 'Course, it's such a multi-layered scam that it all sort of rests upon itself. I mean really, isn't one of the main deals about "how do you get on a piece of land?" And if that means a mortgage, well, you've set foot onto the web of middlemen.

Coops to obviate the need for an automobile would seem to be a good thing. I suppose that only happens when cars aren't an option -- probably too late by then. As the microcosm that Eden Roc is, we's got 1000 folks here who, if they were aware of one another's trips, why they could probably organize for better livelihoods all around. Okay, I'm back to square one...

The coop paradox: In order to establish a coop, you need to cooperate for starters.

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#36 [url]

Aug 23 12 12:43 AM

True confessions of a former farm coop member.
I belonged to a Farm Coop here on the island for years.  The general consensus after
10+ years was that getting farmers to agree on anything was like trying to haul
frogs in a wheelbarrow .

 We became competitive and sabotaged each others efforts.
We  kept our growing techniques secret so the other farmers could not benefit.
We refused to try to create shared markets or to share our marketing secrets.
Money was scammed out of the coop by anyone and everyone.

How do you get past human greed ? How do you create trust ?
People cooperating and working together are rare.

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#37 [url]

Aug 23 12 9:58 AM

I think there is a place for coop's in a limited fashion (similar to how corporations in the US were very limited in scope), for example in the pamphlet they mentioned irrigation, or I could see in the case of purchases of common goods where you can get better pricing due to the volume a coop provides.

It's interesting that they provided "strengths and weaknesses", you don't see that in government information any more, where they provide both sides of an argument. One of the weaknesses, sort of ties into what Buffy was stating. "Another weakness of cooperation is that the mass of members may lose interest in running the organization and let a small group take it over and manage it for their own benefit." As we've seen with corporations, unions, hoa's, and other groups in the US currently these can quickly turn into powerful entities which will control just about every facet of your life. 

This is probably the core reason I lean towards more sole proprietor business structure, as weak business models are easily weeded out (go broke) without systematic risk (AIG is one where the business model was broken but risked the complete industry due to its size). It is rare (but not impossible) for a sole proprietor business to become large enough to control large portions of a population. Also sole proprietors tend to be local, which facilitates a greater chance of ethical behavior. 

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#38 [url]

Aug 23 12 10:02 AM

Well, as far as I can see it, the necessary skills to "cooperate" have been deliberately breed out of the American people-- all for the benefit of big money, which fears collectivism more than anything else-- especially if it's the "capitalist collectivist" variety, as there's no way for anyone to compete with such ventures. Having been raised exposed to collectivist values through the Mennonite tradition I find such values rest on me pretty easy even though many might call me an "individualist." From that tradition or what might have been common Christian values a century ago go it's pretty simple 1) Sinning is choosing against gods will. 2) Gods will always is expressed in the systemic greater good -- hence it's really easy to get to collectivism. But as far as I can see in most people's minds the idea that one might think it a good idea to sacrifice a short term personal gain for a greater good is completely alien to them, and the screwed up world we've got is the result of several billion players doing exactly that.

It hasn't been "individualism" that I've seen destroy collective efforts-- it's been unethical selfish behavior, pure and simple, and I think a lot of people could stand to attend an "ethics" boot camp before embarking on "community oriented projects."

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#39 [url]

Aug 23 12 11:54 AM

" most people's minds the idea that one might think it a good idea to sacrifice a short term personal gain for a greater good is completely alien to them, and the screwed up world we've got is the result of several billion players doing exactly that."


You have to wonder how much of a role desperation plays in motivating people to cooperate, "whether they like it or not."

Necessity the mother of invention? Mutual survival the mother of collectivism?

Interestingly, a large number of the world's collectivist cultures have roots in rice cultivation. Wet rice farming is no place for lone wolves. It requires a high-level of know-how, and involves "building" a rice paddy, versus "clearing a field." Rice farmers carve their paddies into mountainsides. Fields are made up of a complex system of dikes for irrigation; channels must be dug to the nearest water source, necessitating the need to share water resources. In other words, without a collective effort, everyone starves. 

Not saying collectivism is unique to rice cultures, just prevalent. Also worth noting the clear connection between effort and reward; you can't bullshit your way to an abundant crop. No surprise most Asian cultures put a premium value on effort.

A superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions - Confucius

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#40 [url]

Aug 23 12 2:05 PM

I think we can all agree that our current society encourages and rewards short term, "get mine" strategy. The math will teach that that is a poor short term strategy. Until the Empire falls and we (as a society, top to bottom) learn a very painful lesson there will be little change except in small isolated pockets (like here).

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