Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Richard Wolff On Detroit, Cars, And Capitalism’s Inherent Flaws

Posted by Phoenix Woman on July 27, 2013

This is a good point:

If the autoworkers had transformed the auto companies into worker co-operatives, Detroit would have evolved very differently. Worker co-operatives would not have moved production, thereby undermining their jobs, families and communities, including especially Detroit. Workers would not have destroyed themselves and their communities that way. Moving production, a distinctly capitalist strategy, was key to Detroit’s population dropping from 1.8m in 1950 to 700,000 today.

Workers co-operatives would also have searched and likely found alternatives to moving that might have saved Detroit. Workers co-operatives, for example, would likely have paid less in dividends to owners and salaries to managers than was typical at Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. Those savings, if passed on in lower automobile prices, would have enabled better completion with European and Japanese car makers than Detroit’s Big Three managed.

We cannot know how much more Detroit’s auto industry might have benefited from technical progress had it been organized as a workers’ co-operative. We can guess that workers have greater incentives to improve technology in co-operatives they own and operate than as employees in capitalist enterprises. Finally, worker co-operatives would likely have switched to producing (and helped to promote) mass-transit vehicles or other alternatives to the automobile to retain jobs and well-being once they saw that continued automobile production could not secure those priorities for worker co-operatives.

Economic democracy: Worth trying.

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