If anything is evident right now, we are in uncharted economic territory.
The venerable Business Week publication reports that some economists are saying that the present round of lay-offs is the leading edge of a permanent structural change in our economy where some jobs will be “gone for good“.
Well, good, we’ve needed some fundamental changes for a long time. This whole Warfare Imperial State schtick has about run its course, and left a lot of damage — human, ecological, emotional, psychological, spiritual — in its wake. The New Future will be different than the Old Future we once looked forward to. Now is the time to make sure the New Future is someplace we want to go to and that there is a place in it for you and all you love.
We start, as my “20 Resilient Responses” suggested early on in this economic crisis, by closing our ears to the lies of the policitians.
Nothing fundamental has changed with the new administration. Obama-Biden is Clinton-Bush V. Sixteen going on twenty years of betrayal of We the People in favor of the Them the Elites. There is a bit of left-right quibbling between the various factions at the top on details, but there is a fundamental agreement on their course of action.
For a long time, most of us have been dependent upon top-down economies. Going forward, we will find economic and community security in grass-roots economies. For many of us, this will involve breaking free of debt bondage that fosters insecurity and keeps people just a few paychecks away from homelessness. This path to freedom begins in embracing — enthusiastically — a way of life where you no longer see yourself as the Sum of All Your Stuff. I know, for many, it is shocking to comprehend, but you — as a human being — are a person of worth and dignity independent of how much stuff you have accumulated. This is why I say, “if you shop to make yourself feel better about yourself, get counseling.”
Anyway . . . now is the time to look for economic security in your grassroots economy. No, I don’t know in detail what this would look like. No one does. But six years ago, when we first were thinking about the Oklahoma Food Cooperative, we didn’t know what it would look like today. We knew what we had to do to start, and so we got started. And here we are, six years later, still growing our business, doing better each month. Any number of experts didn’t think we could do it, but we did it anyway.
When most people think of starting a business, they think of individual enterprises, and the traditional “sole proprietorship” is a great business model. But worker-owned cooperatives are another way of starting a business, and the coop is also a great business model. Worker-owner coops can start as part-time enterprises, and grow into full-time jobs, so people don’t have to “bet the farm” by quitting their day job early in their transition.
If you haven’t a clue about what you could do, my suggestion is think about something that everyone does — like eating — and then think about growing something to fulfill that need. Here in Oklahoma, the demand for locally grown vegetables is seriously in excess of the actual supply. You can find a ready-made business plan at the Small Plot Intensive farming site, which was developed by two market gardeners who gross $50,000/year on a HALF ACRE of land — and its not even one contiguous half acre, its scattered around town in Saskatoon, Canada, in twenty smaller plots!
Where would you sell your produce? Roadside stand, farmers markets, the Oklahoma Food Cooperative, neighbors, restaurants. If you start an “urban farmers coop”, the work is shared and everyone profits. Nobody has to quit their day job until you get bigger.
The time to create your own personal economic bailout-security is before the economic tsunami takes out your day job.