Once again, I’d like to thank all of you for your thought-provoking comments to Nick’s post, “Co-operatives: The Democracies of our Economy?” Many interesting issues were raised relating to the current financial meltdown and the roles and responsibilities of corporations and governments. Another common theme that many of you discussed was the question of the size of these institutions and the degree to which power has been corrupted as more and more of it gets retained in the hands of a few.
So I’d like to ask you all a question which might seem a bit naïve…
It seems like we all agree that small is better. Andrew quotes Schumacher: “for a large organization to work, it must behave like a related group of small organizations.” Nick writes, “Bigger is not better, and the further removed corporations become from their clients, the less democratic, and quite frankly, human they become.”
So here’s the question. (more…)
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Most of us can agree that political democracies, based on equality and individual freedoms, are the best systems of government in the world today. We know that democratic countries are the least likely to go to war with each other; they suffer from the fewest internal conflicts, the lowest counts of terrorism, and the lowest number of human rights violations. It’s also very clear that democratic political systems are the most fertile grounds for economic prosperity; the countries that rank highest on the United Nations Democracy Index also head the Human Development Index. Freedom, equality and prosperity appear to go hand-in-hand. Why then, do we only apply the principles of the democracy to politics, and not the economy?
The global economy is one of the most undemocratic and inequitable systems imaginable. In 2000, the UN estimates that 10% of the world’s richest adults control 85% of the world’s wealth. According to Forbes, the three richest people in the world control as much wealth as the poorest 47 countries combined. Almost 3 billion people live on $2 a day or less, while the average American lives on $119. The Royal Bank of Scotland controls more assets than the entire GDP of Brazil. Wal-Mart is richer than Thailand. (more…)
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