Thursday, 9 May 2019

Friday, 26 April 2019

Platform Co-operatives: the new social economy?

As Internet giants like Facebook and Twitter sprawl across and into masses of lives, the coop sector has been historically relatively stranded in small scale hard reality enterprises, even though many participate in federations and many others, like our own worker co-op LibraInfoknowledge,net, have long existed online. Things are changing now that a new breed of co-ops called platform co-ops have emerged taking co-op ownership and control to an unprecedented scale. For more about this emergence and the opportunity for co-ops to lead the social economy into the future see Trebor Scholz "Platform Cooperativism vs. the Sharing Economy" at

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Calling all Uber/Airbnb/"Sharing Economy" operatives to re-build the economy from your inside out

Like workers since the beginning of the industrial era
you're a means to an end:profit, and not for you but for the
company you toil for, be it now Uber, or Airbnb or any of
the many other examples of what activist Trebor Scholz,author
of "Uber-worked and Under Paid", calls Platform Capitalism.
There is a better alternative; it's called Platform Cooperativism,
where with your fellow-workers you own and control your
platforms, that is, your means of production and togeter ave te scope
needed to provide viable opposition. This will mean more money, of
course, but also more workplace control. As suggested
by Scholz we can take over our platforms and run them democratically,
as worker co-ops.We, at TorontotheBetter, are members of one and
can put you in contact with the Canadian Worker Coop Federation
if you want to learn more. To get some lived worker coop experience
from our oiver 10 years of existence call us at 416-707-3509 or email
us (
Workers don't have to be Slaves or raw materials . Take over
your workplace and thrive better.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

With friends like these...corporate cred appropriaton reaching new heights/lows

You can't have it both ways, goes the folk wisdom. Still, many want to and try to. "Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World", a 2018 book by Wall Street traitor/refugee Anand Giridharadas exposes the post-2008 crash make-over attempts of corporate philanthropy to equate making profits and doing good. As an insider-outsider who left the Wall Street world Giridharadas makes clear beyond fudging the political stretch to bursting of Pinnochio-like philanthropic "giving" with one hand (to take with the other through sales to the well-intended but gullible). Only abandonment of the consumerism that fills the other half of do-gooding  corporations' "half-full/half-empty" marketed cup would have any real impact, even if we/they have increasingly limited Common Era time for delaying the inevitable. Problem: consumerism sustains most "developed" economies. 

Our environmental options as societies dependent in large part on reeource extraction are often cast as half-empty or half-full. Green economic transformation involves severe job disruption.These options are always by definition both of course, but with the corporate world chasing street cred as young people, in particular, take seriously our planet's marginally mobile date with environmental Armageddon, forget the half full bit.This cup is empty. And see the following, recognizable by most, companies, now touting their own environmental commitments for what they are: shameless appropriators of the hard work done by alarm-sounding activists for many years

Don't count on investment from beer sales to transform clean water supplies in poor regions, unless you are ready to generate a lot more alcoholism, or for hormone free burgers to reduce immune deficiency, unless ready too for even more burger-obesity than the too much we already have. Curb your enthusiasm...and your spending. Argues Giridharadas, Public investment to solve human problems remains the only serious way to achieve the results humanity needs. Our choice: turn to social enterprises of principle, as in our TorontotheBetter directory, that do tell the truth and refuse to take with one hand what they give with the other.

We must be under no illusion about the following:only serious and radical government action has the scale to pause our climate change descent to a fiery catastrophe. Airy words about the complementarity of the economy and  the environment are not enough. Not all social enterprise is born equal, even if much of it has little practical effect in the overall scale of things. The idealistic entrepreneurs of TorontotheBetter enterprises, who want to do something good in the way they do business, can play a positive role by, in effect, counterbalancing some of the damages wrought by mainstream economic actors. But that net effect will only be positive if, as TorontotheBetter demands, they simultaneously support necessary taxation and related public intervention to transform society's economic norms for humans as well as products, from consume and discard to conserve, nurture, and transform. Social enterprise can be part of a better world as long as it does not oppose or distract us from the key public intervention that make their stated goals achievable. The phrase social enterprise is so broad we need some mechanism to identify those entities genuinely ocmmitted to a better world from those seeking only to profit from it. TorontotheBetter has a set of criteria that has in general worked by combining criteria for acceptance but adequate disclosire and enterprise transparency are always a challenge.  

And then there is the increasing problem of the virtual invisibility of much of today's economic activity. In this environment increasing numbers of transactions occur outside public scrutiny and accountability through blockchain technology, while social media have grown up beyond the reach of traditional public regulation. The accountable public realm is now dwarfed by such virtual entities and their activities. Assuing we have acceptably sophisticated criteria how can we effectively apply them to isolate hard to reach virtual enterprises? More to come on this matter, including th rise of platform cooperatives as models for an alternative economy with scale and probity. Once solidly established they offer a set of concrete standards against which fake and compromised initiatatives will be found practicallyu wanting.As always, for progressive change development of the better must be accompanied by exposure of the worse..       

Friday, 12 April 2019

Toronto protests Assange extradition from Ecuadorean Embassy in Toronto

Since we started TorontotheBetter at the start of the new millennium as well as supporting progressive enterprises we have also cricticized companies like Nestle, Coca-Cola and Canada's very own Loblaws, maker of the Joe Fresh clothing brand made in the building that collapsed in the tragic Rana Plaza disaster, when they fail to behave honestly and/or honourably. Whether it is corporate or state inhumanity it requires whistle blowers like Julian Assange to let the light shine on it. It is for that reason that Assange is likely to meet a bad fate if/when he is extradited to the US for his leak of US govt. hacking. The truth hurts and it destablizes companies and governments, but without it our world would be a worse place. Truthtellers like Assange and others are allies of all who seek to make our world a better place. As has often been said sunlight is the  best disinfectant.       

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Public libraries contribute to urban inequality

A recent search for progressive texts in the Toronto Public Library system about public education and popular organizing revealed a disturbing trend; TPL is increasingly buying just one copy of key titles, but that one copy goes to the Reference Library at Yonge and Bloor, in the heart of downtown, where, increasingly, only the well-off can afford to live. You will look in vain for such titles in Scarborough or in northern neighbourhoods, like Jane-Finch, where the real need for such ideas and action is greatest. This policy is beyond tokenism; it is a calculated commitment to the status quo. If TPL wants to support social justice they should invest in the ideas that support it. The likely defensive arguments from TPL management is that they can't afford multiple copies and that they would not be read if they are bought. Our counter- argument is: "Go ahead and try it; your responsibility is not just to buy books, but to promote them locally where they are most needed. Social justice is not a hobby."

Friday, 29 March 2019

The Zapatista Experiment 1994-2019. PWYC Movie - Wed. April 3, 2019


The Zapatista Experiment: 1994-2019      -A Better Economy Is Possible: -what we can learn from the indigenous innovators of Chiapas in Mexico.*Where: OISE (252 Bloor St.W. Room 6-259) *When:  7pm, Wed. April 3, 2019 *Cost:Pay What You Can
                                       ATorontotheBetter PWYC movie series screening