"Capitalism is not just about greed" Could have fooled me.
Finally there was something interested to read in the Globe and Mail this morning. Todd Hirsch a Calgary based economist wrote about what might survive the crash of 2008. In a piece called Long Live the New Capitalism, he argues that instead of trying to save the dying "greed driven" Wall Street system we should accept that the old system is dying and shout long live whatever creative system emerges. He suggests the new capitalists will invest in social good and sustainability if they want to make a buck. "It's not necessary for capitalists to agree with the environmentalists. All you need to do is watch for the trends and capitalize on the opportunities." Finally, someone is looking ahead only the blinder of capitalist ideology prevents him from seeing that most of truly innovative economic models are not the capitalist ones but neither are they strictly socialist.
Hirsch suggests mini loans to laid off auto workers in Windsor to create a small business. How about union pension and solidarity funds loaning the money at minimal interest to set up worker-run co-ops to produce solar panels or energy retrofit houses or any number of other small industries that are needed today . It could start with workers occupying shut down factories with community support as it did in Argentina or with government grants to train people in running small business as it does in Venezuela where tens of thousands of people are running their own co-ops.
We already have the basis of a new food system providing a small scale alternative based on sustainable, healthy, local and affordable food being built through alliances between farmers and urban food activists and spread through consumer desire for healthy local foods that is a mixture of non-profit, public and small entrepreneurial efforts. It could easily be scaled up with more government support and the right policies. Open Source software and efforts like Wikipedia have demonstrated online that people working in a decentralized way towards common ends can be both creative and productive. There is no longer a need if there ever was for the mega corporations that have inflicted so much damage on humanity and the planet. This crisis can be an opportunity for people to take the power to run their own lives. There is alot more on these new economic approaches in Transforming Power