Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Co-ops to our economic resscue? "Everything for Everybody", the new book by Nathan Schneider, suggests coops as a cure for what ails capitalism

Book Review: Everything for Everybody: the radical tradition that is shaping the next economy/Nathan Schneider [Nation Books]  (2018)                                                                                                                                                      For those seeking alternatives to the ongoing economic “in-equalization” of what has been called marketworld, that is, the global market economy where, like it or not, we all exist in in 2019, Nathan  Schneider’s new book  celebrates the co-operative movement’s aspiration, and its achieved reality, of common wealth through cooperation, thoiugh he still recognizes the compromises and contradictions of actual co-operatives.

Coops arose in the 19th century to salvage human value in the wreckage of dog-eat dog capitalist industrialism and one special virtue of cooperatives is their dual local/global federated democratic structure. But their materiality means the above niche is increasingly outdistanced in the geographically barrier-less electronic world. Co-ops  persist but can they retain the advantages of their special distinction as all key relations get etherealized, i.e. dehumanized, in the virtual world? However relational friendly Skype and Facebook may be should E-coops rely on them to sustain their trustworthiness and intimacy? Are core co-op values still relevant when the virtual "friends" are  orthographic, more than personal. In theory perhaps yes, but as a lived reality of material fellowship? We sisagree. And as problematic as ever is the co-operative tendency to introversion and relative  passivity vis a vis their external political worlds.  Co-ops are alternatives to the market status quo. Are they serious opponents of it? Time for a revitalized new co-op world online, as motivates the recent call for worker-owned platform co-ops. DStay tuned to thie space for more on virtual cooperativism.    

NOTE: All books reviewed in our blog are available at your local public library, unless otherwise noted, and/or are available for purchase from TorontotheBetter's parent worker co-op Libra Knowledge and Information Services Co-op. For a quote and to purchase email us at with EforE in the subject line. Of course you can buy the book from Amazon but we are a worker co-op and believe that if you are here values matter to you as they do for us when it comes to where and how we buy things.

Sunday, 30 June 2019

TorontotheBetter thanks Cedar Basket Gift Shop and Computation their commitment to a better Toronto

TorontotheBetter recently met with Jesse of Cedar Basket Gift Shop and the folks at Computation, both long time TorontotheBetter directory participants. We were there to find answers to practical daily needs that we, and all in Toronto, face on a daily basis. We needed value-based businesses to provide us with 1) an indigenous gift for a young relative's birthday, and 2) a recycler for some of our disused computer equipment. Cedar Basket Gift Shop a programme of the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, reflects our core TorontotheBetter value of inclusion, while Computation makes  Toronto better by reducing environmental contamination through its re-use of discarded hardware.

Thank you to both. Please support them and the hundreds of other community positive enterprises on TorontotheBetter's home website, Toronto's original online multi-sector social economy hub.          

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Ridesharing, carsharing and the "sharing economy" - a clarification for the unwary

It looks like the finagle of the so-called "sharing economy" has been put to rest in many minds , because the warm fuzzies of sharing conferred by the sematic latitude of the English word has been put to the test of credulity and failed. Simply put, Uber aint about sharing; it's about a bit of piecework income and as such it encourages more car use, and, in case you have been living in a prehistoric cave recently, the latest news is that more car use causes more atmospheric carbon and more destructive climate change. Far from reducing consumption ridesharing is likely adding to it, as more drivers drive extra kilometers in search of more income. By contrast, the admittedly easily confused carsharing, particularly in its non-profit, ideally co-operative form, actually reduces car use, because through it, credible data show, individuals are less likely to buy second cars, and overall fewer kilometers are driven because fewer cars are used. It's simple. The data show that through carsharing, when economically viable, over 10 drivers make use of 1 car. Less cars mean less accidents, less congestion and less pollution. It's simple but the word sharing means different  things in different phrases. Be aware. Uber and other ridesharers are not helping us save the planet.                  

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Libra (worker co-op) versus Libra (Facebook cryptocurrency)

In case anybody overlooked the launch of our parent site Libra Knowledge and Information Services Co-op , in Toronto ( way back at the start of the 2000's,
our Libra preceded Mark Zuckerberg's recently announced cryptocurrency by several years. And far from seeking to displace established currencies we seek only to make them and the various enterprises they grease the wheels of, work for the good of all, not a tiny elite, like the Zuckerberg empire. With their currency aspirations out of the closet where will Facebook stop? Statehood, official UN status? They have more money than several small countries. What they don't have are citizens, even though many have been marketed into obedience. Enough already. Facebook you are not a country, and we at Libra, your predecessor, will oppose you. We hope you are prepared for any negative fallout for the Facebook empire from our policy.     

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Social Economy success (or failure?): Corporate Cred Appropriation reaches new heights (lows) - continued

Noticed anything peculiar about mainstream business marketing recently? They're talking about their ethics, or charities or general community vibes. A&W touts its nice to animal beyondmeatness, while H&M talks about its members (no longer just purchasers) . And in 2019 there are many more. Many might feel their bile rising about the idea of recreants reformed, since the bottom line motivation is still profit uber alles. But in spite of the credibility challenges posed by reckless guys turned best friends there is a good side to this story, a kind of moral capitulation as themes and discourse have edged from silent self-enrichment to planetary survival, or rather to self-enrichment and planetary survival.

Simply put the powers that be recognize that they have been ethically (aka PR) weakened by the myriad of organizations now engaged in a kind of capitalist repair project. Where, in pursuit of profit, corporations often had little, if any, regard for the damage to workers, consumers, the environment or the community as they did so. Of course there have always been ethical actors like Cadbury's since the onset of industrial capitalism, but for the most part profit at any cost had been the motivating drive. Among non-profiteers the question before us is this development good or bad. The cynic says bad, while our inner Polyanna says Halelujah. A better option is that of what Benckner has called realistic, albeit realistic utopianism. By force of public opinion corporate marketing options are being squeezed by a basic human instinct to do the right thing, if a right thing is available and clear. So we will call this a qualified good. But, of course, if quantitative profit is the arbiter the consequence is always flexible; as carbon pricing diehards, like the cancer causing cigarette companies did long ago.

When TorontotheBetter was conceived at the beginning of the second millennium we identified 4 key criteria for "better" businesses, of which environmental care was one. The others were worker rights, consumer transparency and community partnership. Check one box for recent business environmental awareness, but true success will only be validated when the same is true for our other boxes. We are waiting hopefully, but making capitalist businesses comprehensively social is to ask a leopard to give up on the spots and global economies have allowed the leopard to go spotless in one jurisdiction by retaining them in othersout of sight and mind. A kind of better word progress is being made, but we have a long way to travel before we reach the land of promise. We must remain aware and critical for real progress for all to be achieved. Even when all boxes are checked affordability remains a block for all except elites. Here is where government must intervene in market dynamics.            

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