This is Not A Job

I need to be more clear in my presentation.  In talking to people around here about this plan I have come across a similar theme in the reaction of some people.  I field questions such as "How much do we get paid?" and "Will we get benefits?" or "I know a guy who needs work, you want his number?"

This is not a job.  

You are not an employee.  There is no paycheck.  If you are a shareholder of the co-op, you are a business owner, along with scores of other people.  If you are a sharecropper, you are a self-employed, independent contractor.  If you want more money, you have to work more, work more productively, help others learn and become more capable, bring ideas that improve operations, generate sales, and create new opportunity.  If you want more business, you have to promote the co-op everywhere you go to everyone you meet.  You've got to be willing to come in early, stay late, and do what needs to be done to get the job completed on time and on budget.

If this was a job, you'd get a low hourly wage, the rewards of your labor would go to the company, and if you want a day off they hire someone else.  For a job well done, your boss gets a pat on the back.  You'd be assigned duties according to the preference of the company.  If the company has a banner year, you might get a gift card for 25 bucks at Walmart.  If the company has a slow year, you might be cast aside as the commodity that you are.  If you come in early, stay late, put your nose to the grindstone, one day that company will belong to someone else.  

I get on the social networks and see people complain about their jobs.  They complain about executive salaries.  They complain about minimum wage.  They celebrate the weekend and come Monday they are right back at that job.  You can complain all day, but unless you do something to change the system you're going to be stuck with it, day in and day out for the next 45 years.  The company will decide what you are worth and the lifestyle you are allowed.  If you don't like it you're free to become someone else's bitch.  They'll promise you the world to get you and keep you around, but if the winds of policy change you'll be tossed in the street like a broken appliance.  

A job offers security, or at least it used to.  The days of lifelong employment, good benefits, and handsome wages that let you raise a family with dignity are waning fast.  Overtime is long gone.  The 40 hour work week is hard to come by.  Changing careers every few years is becoming the norm.  What were once good paying manufacturing jobs have been moved oversees where the cost of international shipping is easily offset by labor paid pennies per hour, job safety based more on luck than planning, and waste discharged freely into the environment.  

We lament the power of the corporations but keep on giving them our money.  Our money is their power.  Unless we change our ways, they'll keep on accumulating more power.  The own your house.  They control the food you eat.  They determine what news you hear, see, and read about.  They've long since bought and paid for the gubmnt.  You want to be elected, you need to see the guys with the power.

A few months ago I put out a poll asking people how much additional income would it take to make a difference in their life.  I received responses from left field: "A million dollars" or "several thousand bucks a week."  Again I was not clear in my presentation, so I asked again, this time offering some ideas which define 'make a difference':  catch up on bills, pay down debt, save for a rainy day.  For most folks, 100-200/week would be enough to make a difference.  More would be nice, but with just that much, people are able to improve their situation.

This enterprise is not a job.  It's a chance to change our ways, to give ourselves more ability by redirecting what we are already spending to our own company.  Instead of sending the profits out of state, it stays right here.  It's OUR company.  Aint nobody gonna ship this thing overseas.  WE control our destiny, not some executive in a board room on the other side of the country.  Everything we make and everything we do gives us more ability.  We can develop new projects which advance us all.  We can take the experience gained and start small businesses of our own.  We can work on projects for which we have a passion.  That 100-200/week is brought within reach and we start to make a difference in people's lives.  

More than anything else, this enterprise is about Hope.


Cooperative Enterprise, Plan Outline