Friday, May 16, 2014

Co-ops growing stronger

Co-ops growing stronger: subsidiarity, solidarity and sustainability

 John Courtneidge 16 May 2014

The Co-operative Group in the UK is being put through the mill (partly our fault, partly attacks by globalised capitalism).

My view is that the solution is in three parts (at least!) - each of which might be of use to the wider Co-operative Movement:

1) Retain as a national co-operative those parts that need best to be at  a national level: CRTG and farms/food production, Co-operative Finance generally (banking, pensions, etc . . .)

2) Set up and/or disburse the retail functions to existing or new regional co-ops; ie subsidiarity.

3) Convert the Consumer Co-operative model for the retail co-ops into a Community Co-operative model - with Boards that are part-elected by the active consuming membership and partly due to representation by the workforce on a truly representative basis (ie perhaps by lot from the workforce rather than by vote). Ie solidarity.


  a) Stephen de Vries (the OxfordU academic advisor to Inequality Briefing) said on Monday at the Inequality Briefing meeting that there is no relationship between CEO pay and corporate effectiveness/efficiency.

  b) By contrast, we know from The Spirit Level (see that social, national and corporate wellness increases as income differentials are narrowed, and

c) that The ICA Statement contains both equality and equity as co-operative values.

Accordingly, by considering that:

   equality + equity = fairness

(Which may be a fair(!) synopsis), a significant aspect of our route to co-operative wellness contains two essential elements:

  i) That the refreshed co-operative movement adopt the Pay Fairness Commission approach (using randomly-selected  Pay Fairness Commissions to annually recommend to Boards on pay ratios);

  ii) That each co-op carry out ad publicise 'Annual Co-operative Audits' to demonstrate their (our!) fidelity to all of the Co-operative Values and Principles contained in the ICA Statement on the Co-operative Identity (for which, see and also logged in the papers' section at )  ie sustainabiity

Friday, May 2, 2014

Quakers in Britain Statement on Inequality - April 2014

Britain Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends
Statement adopted by Meeting for Sufferings on behalf of Britain Yearly Meeting
April 2014, minute MfS 2014 04 07
Quakers in Britain commit ourselves to action to redress the growing inequality of wealth and income in our country.

Our vision of equality springs from our profound sense of the worth of every human being.

Every person’s life is sacred and in this we are all equal. Neither money
nor status can serve as a true measure of the value of any individual or group. Nor can wealth be true riches if it is based on unlimited personal enrichment and not shared for the good of all.

The progressive movement towards greater economic equality of the mid 20th century has been in reverse since the 1980s. Britain has become one of the most unequal societies in the developed world, where wealth is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a minority.

The richest 20 per cent of our population have a lmost a hundred times the wealth of the poorest 20 per cent. It is estimated that around one in five of the population, or around 13 million people, live below the UK poverty line.

Government expenditure cuts have imposed unacceptable burdens on those least able to bear them. Many in Britain now go hungry or depend on food banks. Many face homelessness, or insecure housing in the private rented sector. People with disabilities and those affected by mental illness and chronic conditions are having their incomes squeezed. Poverty and hunger, and the anxiety and stress that go with them, are blighting the lives of vulnerable people, from children born into difficult circumstances to working age poor people and elderly people.

We recognise that these crises and injustices spring from forces at work within the global economic system. These forces infiltrate our hearts and minds, capture our politics and threaten our common basis for life on earth. This is nothing less than economic violence, which challenges our Quaker spiritual commitment to peace.

Many Quakers across Britain are helping to supply and staff food banks and lunch clubs, support housing provision, volunteer in advice bureaux and community projects in areas of deprivation and support claimants.

We will continue this urgent work with others to mitigate the effects of cuts that diminish the quality of life for millions in our society. We want to hear and understand the true stories of those affected, so that our shared
humanity can be at the heart of our responses to poverty.

However, action that aims merely to alleviate the worst effects of inequality is not enough.

As we wrestle with the implications of our testimony to equality, Quakers feel called to act more radically to tackle the underlying causes. This calling requires spiritual struggle and real practical change. Our testimonies are moving us to work for very different ways of organising our common life. We are also moving towards spending and saving our own resources in ways that are more compatible with our values, and away from uses that diminish the lives of our fellow human beings and the rich variety of life forms with which we share our planet.

As we long for a society of deep compassion and loving kindness in which we ‘help one another up with a tender hand’, we must witness to a different way of living, and help build the world anew.
Ethel Livermore
Clerk, Meeting for Sufferings

Thursday, May 1, 2014

On May Day 2014 : 


Regarding money/banking/finance

                     In an interest-free way   --    Root Out Usury!

To a comment such as Positive Money's proposal interest-free money creation:

Yes, interest-free issuance/creation is essential. 

The use point - ie lending once created, interest-free - is I think covered by the suggestion that such interest-free credit be not debt-free ie must be paid back.

The best model I can presently think of is the Public Lending Library: the books, etc, there, are lent free-at-the-point-of-use, subject to a pre-specified limit, for return by a certain time, all subject to, both application to the publicly-appointed and paid librarian who has the discretionary power to extend or restrict lending levels.

Just as with the Public Library, the community pays the overhead for the proposed interest-free, wealth-facilitation banking and an advisory service will be part of the scheme: helping new and expanding wealth-creating units (as co-ops, not as for-profit parasites) assess their business needs.

Recall, I hope, that such interest-free money, banking and finance is part of the overall plan for economic wellness: a key element, also, is the not-refundable aspect: a guaranteed income scheme which I term 'A LIFE':

 - a Living Income for Everybody

(set at a socially-determined level and related to a socially-determined income ratio/multiplier as the base income to such a minimum, automatic, not-means-tested guaranteed/maximum socially-permitted income ratio).

The full plan is called 'Co-operative Socialism':

 -  the name isn't anywhere as important as the scheme itself:

see in the papers' section of

Thx all - I hope you stay in touch - and even become active in the work to achieve this! As best may be.

For all