Saturday, April 19, 2014

No more profit before anything, eh!?

(yes, yes, I know - but see the BTW below)

Fleming Crescent co-op, Sele Farm Hertford, Herts: which was opened after Simon Butler and I took a site-finding tour in about 1999 when he was on the CWS main board.  I does a roaring trade (as does that in Bengeo where we saved its in-store sub Post Office: that for Sele Farm was also saved - and moved - see above).
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Both these shops (in co-op speak) 'make good contributions' to the financial surplus of our co-op (was Enfield and St Albans Co-op, the South Midlands area of the CWS and now part of The Co-operative Group).
 
Again, in co-op speak  the financial surplus (which capitalism appropriates as rent/interest/profit and Higher-than-average-pay for its bullies/bribers and brainwashers) is named just as that.

And,  if the co-op is in conformity with the Statement from The International Co-operative Alliance (the ICA) on Co-operative Values and Principles*, then that financial surplus will be sent back to its originating communities as a 'patronage dividend', as expenditure on member, worker and community eduction ( ' . . . especially young people and opinion-formers' and 'for the sustainable well-being of communities' (the latter from Principle 7.

*For the full ICA statement see www.ica.coop - and I've logged a copy of it in the papers' section at www.interestfreemoney.org.uk

BTW - back in 1999, The Co-operative Party adopted the motion that I/we drafted in the Welwyn/Hatfield Co-op Party branch and which was approved for submission by the Enfield and St Albans Co-operative Party Council, 'inviting all co-operatives to carry out and publicise Annual Co-operative Audits to demonstrate their fidelity to the Statement on the Co-operative Identity as periodically updated by The International Co-operative Alliance, the ICA'.

Notably, the ICA co-op values include equality and equity.

In the light of recent events, I hope that all co-ops will not accept that invitation:

                            'to carry out and publicise Annual Co-operative Audits to demonstrate their fidelity to the Statement on the Co-operative Identity'


Best - equally! - for all!

john

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

An Income and Equality Game 

Helping any group work out its preferred Income Max/min multiplier

And the level of a LIFE (a Living Income for Everybody) that the group thinks should apply where it lives

Wholosopher, Independent Writing and Editing Professional, Research chemist
 

An Income and Equality Game

Updated April 2014 - first played in about 2011 (see http://www.quakerweb.org.uk/blog/campaigns/economic-equality-resources-for-friends/ )

Contact: John Courtneidge                                                      john@courtneidgeassosiates.com

Over the past two or so weeks, the following game has emerged – it helps, in my experience, to move matters on for people who already 'get' the message of 'The spirit level' book (see the Equality Trust web-site www.equalitytrust.org.uk for more on that book).

So, have the participants sit in a circle and, then, pass out small slips of coloured paper, clockwise (one for each participant) and, counter-clockwise, small slips of white paper. (The circle indicates equality and the two direction sharing helps get everyone involved.)

Once the surplus paper has completed the circle, ask the participants to write on the coloured slips their view of what the income ratio (minimum to maximum) should be in the society/country/whatever where they live. Now, this usually starts discussion, but stick to the should be phrase – not 'what is achievable' etc, etc. - and, gently give examples of 'should be' ratios – 1:1, 1:3, 1:5, 1:50, 1:100, 1:1000, etc.

Now, pass around a cup - for people to place the responses in - and, once that's returned, ask people to write on the white slips what they think is the income – after tax – that a single person, living in this city/community/country/whatever geographical dimensionality you choose needs to have – monthly – to live a decent life. Again, bundles of questions emerge, but stick to that opening question.

While the participants are doing that, note down the results of the income ratio question (from the coloured slips of paper) and estimate both the range of answers and an average (yes, I know that the statisticians will go for medians, means, etc – I don't know about that . . . !).

Again, scoop up the responses to the second question and then ask someone to volunteer (to roughly collate the answers to the monthly income question) while you report back on the income ratio question – again there will be questions, responses, etc, all of which offer two possibilities (at least!): firstly this gives the volunteer collator time to 'do the math' on the monthly decent income question. Secondly, if the discussion gets 'hot', then this is an opportunity to introduce the 'talking stick' method – including the option to 'pass', 'go-round in circle', etc, techniques.

The final phases of the game (perhaps!) involve two possibilities.

First, try to marry-up the responses to both questions with something like, 'OK, suppose that I'm the King of Bromley, or whatever and I'm going to get the highest income that we have socially-determined, here. That would amount to, for example, with the socially-determined 1:3 ratio and an averaged 'Liveable Income' of £2000 per month, I, the King of Bromley would get £6000 per month, and you, on the lowest income, £2000 per month. How does that feel? And what effects would that have?' (pointing back to the Spirit Level book might be included here and, in the UK, a group called 'One Society' has data on income ratios in the UK). Again, inclusive discussion time.

Secondly, you could discuss 'what to do' with these findings. One possibility would be to publicise them – by letter (to? MP?, church?, web, what-ever ) – and to log the results in some sort of public place to compare the results from other groups playing this game.

Then, after some tea, wiggle and refreshment, the participants might enjoy playing 'The Teaspoon Game' – which is all to do with the way that wealth and income is created –. . . and how it is shared out . . . Have fun! Please let me know how it goes!

Home | The Equality Trust equalitytrust.org.uk

Comments


John C.
John
Wholosopher, Independent Writing and Editing Professional, Research chemist
ps My F/friend Gianne Broughton used a nice development of this experience, by asking as the final question, 'So who of you think that your work is only worth a third of that of any-one else?' (The group being Ottawa Quakers and they had essentially agreed a 1:3 income rtio as fair.

Nice work Gianne!

Friday, April 11, 2014

 As we remember the murder of Jesus


11 April 2014

My friend Stephen asked:

    " How about you share with me teachings of Jesus in relation to capitalism you would like to lift up."

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So, first, Stephen, thanks! for asking!

The following is logged at http://www.interestfreemoney.org/papers/

Jesus On Money, Markets and Capitalism
Here are Verses 64 and 95 from Richard Valantasis' 'The Gospel of Thomas'
(Published by Routledge, London and New York, 1997):

Saying 64
Jesus said, "Someone was receiving guests. When he had prepared the dinner, he sent his slave to invite the guests. The slave went to the first and said, 'My master invites you.' The first replied, 'Some merchants owe me money; they are coming to me tonight. I have to go and give them instructions. Please excuse me from dinner.' The slave went to another and said, 'My master has invited you.' The second said to the slave, 'I have bought a house, and I have been called away for a day. I shall have no time.' The slave went to another and said, 'My master invites you.' The third said to the slave, 'My friend is to be married, and I am to arrange the banquet. I shall not be able to come. Please excuse me from dinner.' The slave went to another and said, 'My master invites you.' The fourth said to the slave, 'I have bought an estate, and I am going to collect the rent. I shall not be able to come, Please excuse me.' The slave returned and said to his master, 'Those whom you invited to dinner have asked to be excused.' The master said to his slave, 'Go out on the streets and bring back whomever you find to have dinner.' Buyers and merchants [will] not enter the places of my Father."

Saying 95
[Jesus said], "If you have money, don't lend it at interest. Rather, give [it] to someone from whom you won't get it back."

You might find it useful to compare these with: Luke 14: 16-24 (from The Authorised Version (AD1611): compare with Thomas Saying 64)

Then he said unto them, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So the servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, that none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

Luke 6: 30-35 (from The Authorised Version (AD1611): compare with Thomas Saying 95)

Give to every man that asketh of thee; and to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? For sinners also love those that love ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of
whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.These quite clearly show what Jesus thought of those who own (land, money and productive resources) and exploit people (from city, highway and hedge) and the planet for profit.

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So, if you read these, then the five mechanisms that capitalism uses (TRIP-Up: Theft, Rent, Interest, Profit and Unequal-pay for work) are listed: all take us away from the grace of companionship with God - and increase the income gap - for which, from the secular evidence (see 'The Spirit Level' book and www.equalitytrust.org.uk), are the base of all our troubles.

Finally, Jesus was incandescent about the behaviour of the 'rich' and powerful in his own society

    - I find it very useful to read three Parables as part of a group: with a discussion in-between each one:

       - The Parable of the Talents in Matthew,
       - The parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke and
       - The parable of the Minas in Luke

(there is a good listing of Parables at Wikipedia). 

If the group don't recognise that the first and last of these three is an excoriation of usury (which is a central message of  Jesus' ministry), then reading Psalm 15, as well, helps.

I hope this helps, too.  Thanks again!

Best - equally! - for all!

john

****************

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sustainable public services



Helping create sustainable public services
 ----------------------------------------------------------
Regarding a new booklet: 

   'The tragedy of the private, the potential of the public'

Publication Date: 
14 March, 2014

Hilary Wainwright for
Public Services International (PSI) *

This booklet presents anti-privatisation campaigns by PSI affiliates around the world. From South Africa to Brazil, from Italy to the US, in Uruguay, Greece, Norway, the UK and in many other countries, municipal councils are taking services back under their control.


*Public Services International brings together more than 20 million workers, represented by 650 unions in 148 countries and territories. We are a global trade union federation dedicated to promoting quality public services in every part of the world. Our members, two-thirds of whom are women, work in social services, health care, municipal and community services, central government, and public utilities such as water and electricity.

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Regarding this booklet, John Courtneidge offers: 

I've briefly looked at this booklet and can offer three thoughts - all of which flow from the possibility of Co-operative Socialism (for which, please see the papers' section at www.interestfreemoney.org.uk - a work in progress.

So:

1) Finance - our work in the UK Parliament to provide capital for public services is gathered at our sister site, www.forumforstablecurrencies.org.uk - you will see the support that it gained from those MPs who are democratic socialists.  The lead worker on this is Sabine McNeill.

2) Asset lock - to sustainably - permanently - deprofitise public services needs asset locks that cannot be undone.  In organisational terms, please consider the community co-operative model in the plan for Co-operative Socialism.  These have parallels, to some degree (see below) in the 'Crown Corporations' in Canada.

3) Finally, even within asset-protected structures dysfunction emerges (it's the 'Corporate Degeneration' thesis: things become conservative as they age).  The health of any organisation depends on its income distribution (see 'The Spirit Level' and associated web-site www.equalitytrust.org.uk - Michael Marmot's Whitehall Study is an early example of this as it relates to the public service).

Our work at the Bromley Income Equality Group - in association with My Fair London and The Equality Trust - introduces a randomocracy variant of the Fairness Commission - which leads to a Fair Pay policy determination by the effective employers - the elector data-base.

Please contact me if any of this appeals/needs clarification.

For all- the best! - equally!

john

John Courtneidge
*********************

R-evolution - to Capitalism, Transfromed



R-evolution - to Capitalism, Transfromed

18 March 2014
John Courtneidge

It seems that, judgiing from the publication of the book, photographed below, that our friends in the USA might be ready to consider the Co-operative Socialism variant.  

If so, I hope that the following short writing encourages them to find the essays on Co-operative Socialism in the papers' section at www.interestfreemoney.org.uk and  . . .



 ---------------------------

Last week my friend, Jim, spoke of his preference for "Regulated Capitalism":
   
   "I just had a quick look at "interestfree..." I don't have the time to investigate this idea fully. However, I think back to the times I lent money to people and the troubles I had. (The most I was ever owed was $400.) Now, if anybody asks to borrow cash, I laugh uproariously in their face. If they persist, I get very angry. . . I know my experiences are small scale and I know that in our complex society, we need some way of funding people with good ideas however . . . My ideas about a new economic model, I call 'Regulated Capitalism." This would not require a revolution. . . My way of talking about economics is geared at changing the minds of young economics students and also debating with the people who are the problem now. . . Are you familiar with the way the US reformed it's economy beginning in 1938-9? Their purpose, of course, was to fight WWII, but it gives an example of what is possible in economics." 

------------------

I replied to ask:

 - that he consider a change to an active adjective - so developing "Regulated Capitalism"  to 'Transforming Capitalism' - ie to 'Transforming Beyond Capitalism' .

Like Jim, I'm no fan of revolutions - they have always ended up a) with violence and b) with a new set of bosses replacing the old set of bosses, then there's a counter-revolution and the children of the old set of bosses replace the new set of bosses . . . think City of London/England.

Now, the transformation - r-evolution - involves first of all a mind-set change from 'What can I get?' to 'What can I give?'.  This seems to go through a 'What can I share?' first of all.

Next, we need a paradigm inversion (for 'How Rigid is Your Paradigm', please see that essay in the papers' section at www.interestfreemoney.org - it seems to be one of the two 'entry-level' essays into this - the Needs on is the other).

Anyway, that inversion is to see that ownership is wrong rather than right.  That way, the consequential 'unearned incomes' that flow from ownership (rent, interest, profit, higher-than-average-incomes-from-paid work ie RIP-Up in the TRIP-Up acronym, T = Theft = Ownership of economic resources) evaporate.

Now, unless we are led back, to become hunter/gatherers in the Garden of Eden, we will need to work to sustain ourselves.

And work is that opportunity to give; work is, as my friend Peter Challen says, love made manifest (which work, at present for 99+% of the population - even for the Queens, bond traders and other thieves - it's not!).

So, we'll need access to those economic resources - and that where the concept of careship rather than ownership and co-operative careship rather than ersatz careship = stewardship - comes from.

But, enough, for now.

So, thanks again, Jim - and for your vignette on lent money - what a piece of work debt, usury, rent, etc are!

For all - the best! - equally!

john

*************

Friday, March 14, 2014



The Right Chemistry: Life, love and chemistry

First Draft Hertford August 2003
John Courtneidge
Net-published 14 March 2014
Objective
To interweave a collection of commentaries about life, love and community, along with an introduction to, and development of contemporary issues in, chemistry.  With bangs!

Threads
Poetry, popular music (Beatles?), locations, history and personalities. Chemistry as experience. Home experiments?


Programme Theme Outlines
Programme 1: ‘What’s It All About Alfie? Life, love and chemistry
Atoms, air, fire.
Atoms, molecules, marriage, human relationships, co-operation, love.
Melting/freezing/change types
The Greek atomists and John Dalton. Lavoisier, Davy, and their wife. Greece, Manchester, London and Paris

Programme 2: ‘Out of Darkness, Light’: Planets, Water and Fire
Fish, clouds, emergence, evolution and paradigm. Volcanoes
Sulphur, sulphuric acid. Limestone, acid rain.

Programme 3: ‘You, me, we, us’: Community, life, co-operation
Boiling eggs, building people, proteins, DNA, hydrogen bonds, subtlety, music.

Programme 4: ‘Family, community’: The Periodic Table
Order out of chaos, entropy, Free Energy, predictability. Revolution and paradigm.
Gibbs, Bolzmann, Mendeleef

Programme 5: ‘Growing Up, Growing Wiser’
Change, complexity, truth and order. Reaction rates, equilibrium.
Bond breaking and making – growing up together, breaking up is hard to do.
The 18th Hole at St Andrews.


Programme 6: ‘Violence, War, Peace’: The Enlightenment
Electricity, atom Bombs, solar power
Faraday, Fredrick Soddy, Pliny
Metals, Atomic structure, ionic bonding, theft, money and profit.
Oil, coal, gas, cars, trams, WWI
Quantum mechanics, Rutherford, Heisenburg, Los Alamos, Hiroshima

Programme 7: ‘The Enlightenment Part II’: Awareness, Consciousness, Gaia
Silicon, communication, internets, swarming, co-operation, immanence, poetry, love.

Programme 8: ‘And let There Be Light’: Wholosophy and connectedness
Light/energy/matter equivalence Einstein’s equation. Max Plank, the Mystics.
Wave particle duality. One in all/all in one.
Photochemistry, helium and the sun. Fireflies. Organic peroxides, fire, human heeds. The planet’s needs. Food, photosynthesis, life, future.

"Affluent, effluent . . ." - Money, Chemisrty, Life - What next?


John Courtneidge

14 March 2014

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In a Facebook thread at the Green Left page, I used the phrase "affluent, effluent . . ."

Actually, there's a non-demonising point here and I apologise is I offend anyone with the "affluent, effluent . . ." pairing. 

Effluent (pollution) is the necessary co-production to wealth production: it’s a Laws of Chemistry (including the Laws of Thermodynamics) thing: the Second Law of Thermodynamics and the First Law of Chemistry thing( 'Everything gotta go somewhere' is a popular encapsulation of the latter ('Matter is neither created nor destroyed in a chemical reaction, simply changed from one set of relationships to another') while 'Shit happens' is a way of expressing the Second Law of Thermodynamics: That in *any* change any-where, the overall entropy (dis-order) of the universe increases.

Now, in a wealth-creating process, order is created locally, which means that disorder (either disordered low-temperature energy and/or disordered materials) in the rest of the universe results.

So a high-consuming individual/family or society is stacking up lots of ordered 'goods' - even short-lived ordered materials (like plastic water bottles, say) but at the expense of creating, in the wealth-creation phase (to say nothing of any later 'throw away’s) lots of pollution - effluent.

Thus the poetic pairing, 'affluent, effluent . . .' (an older, even more offending, but true pairing was due to the process of unearned incomes being distributed to the 'wealthy' in increments: 'the excrement living in increment'.  This demonisiation of the 'rich' - like the anti-fox-hunting slogan 'The unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible': no wonder that the politics of name calling gets out of hand!

Anyway, the not-human world operates according to those same Laws of Chemistry (including the Laws of Thermodynamics).  So, for example, photosynthetic life-forms (plants, blue-green algae - I'm no botanist, but am a chemist)  create local order (a tree for example) out of less-ordered materials (freely moving carbon dioxide molecules in the air, less freely-moving liquid water in the ground and, to a small extent, somewhat ordered minerals dissolved in the water.

Now, the overall process is, simplified, as:

Carbon dioxide + water + light (energy) -> carbohydrates (the tree) + oxygen  (read the arrow as 'Goes to give')

(BTW – my suspicion is that photosynthesis produces heat as well as another by-product, but whether that’s been shown to be true or not I don’t know.)

Now, the oxygen is a pollutant as far as the tree is concerned (and a dangerous one - oxygen is poisonous to living things - something that oxygen-metabolising things - like you and me - have to carefully control.  As does the tree: due to the following unwanted (as far as the tree is concerned reaction (for carbohydrate combustion: 'forest fires'):

Carbohydrates (the tree) + oxygen  ->  Carbon dioxide + water + heat and light.

Now, in a balanced eco-system, the sequestration (converting into 'tied-up' molecules like water - oxygen atoms tied onto/bonded with hydrogen atoms - and carbon dioxide: again a triatomic molecule of one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms) keeps an oxygen balance of about 21% of the atmosphere: enough for animals to breath and control, so that carbohydrates can be metabolised into energy (warmth and movement - and, I hope, sometimes a little metaphoric light: wisdom).

Now, all that is going on well in the Garden of Eden and, then, to cut a long story (about 15,000 years: which in global terms and even life-history terms is not a long time) we invented the super explosive, money.

Now, I'll shorten the description of explosives to say that they combine - often even in the same molecule, the fuel (like the carbohydrates of the tree) with the oxidising agent (the oxygen in the forest fire - or fire in the forest when controlled - as above).

Likewise now with money: money nowadays (and probably almost as soon as it was invented) not only lives a static life, lubricating human activities - wealth creation - but, once debt and interest had been invented, became a 'life'-form in its own right: demanding to be fed raw materials, energy - and human lives - to re-produce itself.

Now money has no limits, if we let it be so and so the wealth-creating process (as above) runs reckless - making the maximum effluent in the minimum possible time - the machine in the Garden goes wild, consuming everything - and everybody - in sight.

Such that earth's mechanisms - Gaia - can't cope and catastrophic change results - anti-wealth production (like war, for example).

So, why am I writing this?

Well, first, you will by now have appreciated that 'if we don't control money it will control us' - an old phrase that causes some of us to take the unsustainable route to managed capitalism (social democracy/fascism/Marxism) away from unmanaged capitalism (Anarchism/Neoliberalism/Libertarianism). Or to take the more-sustainable route - to replace capitalism with horizontalist, equalitarian, eco-integrated Co-operative Socialism (co-operating together as humans and co-operating with the rest o9f the creation as kindly as we can).

But, more so, I'm stumped.

Because the foregoing chemistry account should be the meat and drink (literally) of everyone: if we don't know how it works, how can we become responsible members of earth's com-m-unity?  Given our genetic ability to do so many bad! things?

And, yet, as much as I tried to promote a TV series termed 'The Right Chemistry' and as many TV series of toffs jetting around the world shows, the affluent creating (by necessity of their effluent lifestyles) amounts of effluent that Gaia can't cope with, dominate the Third Wave of Alvin Toffler's age of information.

Woe!