Economic Democracy

If ye love wealth better than liberty... May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.
~ Samuel Adams
Those who produce should have, but we know that those who produce the most - that is, those who work hardest, and at the most difficult and most menial tasks, have the least.
~ Eugene V. Debs The United States is home to a vibrant movement for economic democracy. Read our materials on cooperatives, participatory budgeting, and solidarity economies.

Learn about writing a community ordinance to take control of local food exchanges from the Alliance for Democracy

April 11, 2016
Alliance for Democracy

Put your community in charge by passing a local ordinance that strengthens your food system. Tailor the Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance to your community and its needs and get it passed. You will be told you can’t do that. Do it anyway. Then persist. 

Teleconference on the Global Wave of Resistance

October 12, 2011
Liberty Tree

On Wednesday, October 12, 2011, the Liberty Tree Foundation convened a special briefing, the Teleconference on the Global Wave of Resistance. This global conference featured over 100 participants, and updates from leading organizers of the global wave of student and labor strikes, occupations, and revolutions. Panelists include core organizers from the UK, Germany, Israel, and Chile, as well as Wisconsin, Boston, Oakland, Washington D.C., and Wall Street, among others. This was the second such teleconference on corporatization and austerity org

Additional Information: 

Panelists included Nicolas Valenzuela, Uri Gordon, Mo Gas, James Sevitt, Adam Porton, Sarah Manski, Nadeem Mazen, Elaine Brower, Matt Nelson, plus moderator Ben Manski.

Thousands of workers join united strike effort, reflecting labor movement power

April 14, 2016
Jim Tankersley and Brian Fung for the Washington Post
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Tens of thousands of Americans will decline to report to work Thursday because of labor disputes, a surge that coincides with a fledgling sense of empowerment among workers who struggled for years to reap the gains of the economic recovery and which could mark a political and economic shift in the balance between employers and their employees.

Information about the secret financial dealings of some the world’s richest and most powerful people exposed in “The Panama Papers”

April 11, 2016
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists
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A giant leak of more than 11.5 million financial and legal records exposes a system that enables crime, corruption and wrongdoing, hidden by secretive offshore companies.

Scientists warn earthquake risks are increasingly linked to corporate injection of wastewater from gas and oil extraction into the ground

April 11, 2016
Anna Kuchment for Scientific American
news photo

To Cathy Wallace, the earthquakes that have been rattling her tidy suburban home in Dallas feel like underground thunderstorms. First comes a distant roar, then a boom and a jolt. Her house shakes and the windows shudder. Framed prints on the walls clatter and tilt. A heavy glass vase tips over with a crash.

Villagers continue to peacefully protest plan for coal plant creation in their community after death caused by police violence in Bangladesh

April 11, 2016
John Vidal for The Guardian
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Bangladeshi villagers staged further protests on Tuesday after police opened fire and killed at least four people demonstrating against the planned construction of two large Chinese-financed coal-fired power stations.

Corporate controlled “Itasca Project” circumvents democracy in Twin Cities decision-making

April 2, 2016
Charles P. Pierce for Esquire
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Good intentions don't justify unaccountable power.

Call me paranoid, but I found The New York Times's tale of the gnomes of Minneapolis  just a little unnerving. It certainly makes me curious about the future of democratic government.

Great American Think Off 2016 explores how income inequality threatens democracy with essay contest and debate

April 2, 2016
Great American Think-Off New York Mills Cultural Center
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With a national election right around the corner, this year the Great American Think-Off wants to know if people agree or disagree with this statement: “Income Inequality Threatens Democracy”.

Twin Cities janitors reach agreement after negotiations following 24-hour strike in February addressing wages and workload

April 2, 2016
Andy Rathburn for Twin Cities Pioneer Press
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Minneapolis-St. Paul janitors have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract following months of negotiations and a 24-hour strike last month.
 
The union representing about 4,000 janitors across the Twin Cities announced that an agreement on a new four-year contract was reached between janitors and their employers after a 12-hour bargaining session that ended early Monday morning.
 

Climate activists challenge using eminent domain for fracking with “Pancakes Not Pipelines” protest

March 27, 2016
Lee Ziesche for AlterNet
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Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Josh Fox (Gasland) and others from the activist group Beyond Extreme Energy were arrested today protesting the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for its role in continuing to permit fossil fuel projects that will greatly accelerate climate change.

Preemption being used to block local democracy measures including minimum wage laws

March 27, 2016
The Huntington News
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August, the Birmingham, Ala. local government took a significant step toward supporting low-wage workers in the city by raising minimum wage to more than $10 from the national floor of $7.25. The move constituted a strong victory for labor rights and community activists, who had spent months rallying support and talking to lawmakers in an effort to make Birmingham the first city in the South to raise its minimum wage. By August, the decision had garnered a broad base of support that included workers, activists, city officials and a large segment of residents.

Montana community members stopped largest new coal mine in North America

March 26, 2016
Nick Engelfried for Waging Nonviolence
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Montana communities won a victory against one of the world’s biggest coal companies earlier this month, when Arch Coal abandoned the Otter Creek mine – the largest proposed new coal strip mine in North America. The story of how the project imploded is one of people power triumphing over a company once thought to be nearly invincible.

What's trade policy got to do with climate policy?

March 17, 2016
Liberty Tree Foundation
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The global climate crisis. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). What's trade policy got to do with climate policy? It's got the whole world to do with it.

How trade deals like the TPP undermine climate protections

March 16, 2016
Brian Bienkowski
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A powerful legal tool designed to protect foreign investors could undermine commitments made in Paris last month to reign in climate warming emissions. 

Model legislation for local “TPP Free Zones”

March 16, 2016
The Alliance for Democracy
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Global corporations are engaged in a series of elaborately planned moves to take away our democratic rights, and currently, nowhere is that more evident than in the promotion of multinational trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Document: 

Tips for getting a “TPP Free Zone” law adopted in your community

March 16, 2016
The Alliance for Democracy
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The TPP threatens laws and regulation designed to protect public health, financial transparency, food safety, workers rights, the climate and the environment. It allows governments to be sued by corporations for lost profit as a result of these ordinances. Yet labor, environmental, health care, internet/free press, climate justice, green energy and democracy organizations were excluded from negotiations, and, under fast track, can't work with legislators to amend the text of the agreement.

Document: 

Recently signed TPP undermines democracy in municipalities, finance, environment

February 8, 2016
Matt Stannard
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I apologize for "de-democratizes" in the title. I wrestled with "un-democratizes," "hurts every good cause," and "cuts a swath down the sail of American democracy like Errol Flynn," and none of them seemed to work. I decided to go with a word that represents curtailment, undermining, moving away from. American political and economic life certainly isn't democratic enough, but the Trans-Pacific Partnership makes it all less so, because it undermines an entire category of democratic policymaking.

NYC Participatory Budgeting Wins $100K Prize

September 21, 2015
Jenn Stanley
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Harvard’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation last week recognized New York’s participatory budgeting program with the Roy and Lila Ash Innovations Award for Public Engagement in Government. The nod comes with a $100,000 prize.

5 Steps to Turn Your Business Into a Worker-owned Co-op

September 9, 2015
Cat Johnson
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Worker cooperatives are a great way to bring democracy into the workplace. For retiring business owners and entrepreneurs, converting to a worker-owned co-op can also strengthen business and generate a return on investment.

Alperovitz and Hanna: Socialism, American-Style

September 1, 2015
Gar Alperovitz and Thomas Hanna
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The great 20th-century conservative economist Joseph Schumpeter thought the left had overlooked a major selling point in pressing the case for public — i.e., government — control over productive capital. “One of the most significant titles to superiority,” he suggested, was that public ownership produced profits, which means not having to depend on taxes to raise money.

The Democratic Turn of the Century: Learning from the U.S. Democracy Movement

March 18, 2015
Ben Manski

Originally published by the journal Socialism & Democracy. Contact the author for permission to reprint.

Democracy movements arose in most regions of the globe during the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Students of social change have studied many of these movements, but, remarkably, have so far failed to look at that of the United States.

Tribal activists plan community owned solar power plant

October 17, 2014
Mary Hansen - Yes! Magazine
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A proposed community-owned solar project on an abandoned coal mine in Arizona illustrates how cooperative economics make it possible to stop extracting fossil fuels—without leaving workers behind.

Week of action to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Nov. 8-14

October 3, 2014
Action Alert from PopularResistance.org
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This fall, communities across the U.S. will once again join international allies in a global week of action against unjust trade. With Obama pushing to announce a TPP “framework” in November and the threat of Fast Track tripling in the lame-duck session, we need to demonstrate that hundreds of thousands still oppose corporate agreements meant to put profit before people and the planet.

The Global Climate Strike: Why We Can't Wait

September 24, 2014
Ben Manski and Jill Stein

The following article written by Liberty Tree board members Ben Manski and Jill Stein describes an idea currently under consideration within the Global Climate Convergence process . . . (the GCC is a project of Liberty Tree).

Center for Social Inclusion maps the movement for Energy Democracy

July 24, 2014
Center for Social Inclusion
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This map pinpoints communities across America that are innovating how to build their local economies while taking into their own hands the fight against climate change by developing community-scale renewable energy projects.

Denmark town achieves true Energy Democracy

July 24, 2014
Paul Kando
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Ballen, Denmark, is one of 18 small villages on Samsø, an island of 4,000 residents. The new Energy Academy with its 11 new jobs is located here, doubling as a meeting house and visitor center for those who come here from the world over to learn how to become 100 percent energy-independent. The island has 21 huge wind turbines generating over 104 million kW h/year, enough to power 26,000 homes. Sixty percent of the island’s buildings are heated by 4 solar district heating systems, with straw-burning back-up boilers; the rest use electric heat pumps. Cars run on electricity.

Nigerian communities challenge corporate power in quest for Energy Democracy

July 24, 2014
Boldwin Anugwara
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That Nigeria is facing power supply challenge is an understatement. But the Executive Director, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Dr Godwin Uyi Ojo, in this interview with CHARLES OKONJI, says the epileptic power supply has an exit date if only Nigeria embraces energy democracy. Excerpts:

You have been advocating energy democracy. Can you explain to us what you mean by energy democracy?

San Diego fights for Energy Democracy

July 24, 2014
John Farrell
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San Diego and its community choice energy district would be able to offer a diverse energy mix with all of the solar, biodiesel, biogas, and energy storage resources that we have in San Diego.  A product that is price competitive and yet at the same time would strive for and achieve a higher level of renewable content.”

See how this southern California city is striving for more clean energy and more local control in this interview with Lane Sharman, co-founder and chair of the San Diego Energy District Foundation. This podcast was recorded via Skype on May 21, 2014.

UK's largest union calls for fracking ban and "democratic control of the energy industry"

July 24, 2014
Unite policy conference 2014
news photo

At UNITE’s 2014 policy conference, the following resolution was passed:

Composite C6 (Incorporating Motions D1, D3 & D4)

Standing in the names of:

North West/Merseyside AAC

North East, Yorkshire & Humber/300/22 Wm Morrison Distribution Stockton Branch

South West/001401 Bristol Finance & Legal Sector Branch

D. Environment

(i) Hydraulic Fracturing

Conference notes:

Gar Alperovitz on the cooperative economy's enormous potential

May 22, 2014
Orion Magazine

IN THE MID-1960s, when author, historian, and political economist Gar Alperovitz was working as legislative director for Senator Gaylord Nelson, change was in the air. Ink had dried on an early version of the Clean Air Act, the civil rights movement had won major victories, and the first Earth Day was in the works. The U.S. still faced plenty of serious challenges, but many Americans felt their country was capable of dealing with them successfully.

Participatory Budgeting in NYC: Governing at the Grassroots

May 21, 2014
Mike Menser and Ron Hayduk
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Like much of the rest of the globe, New York City is beset by two crises: economic instability and the changing climate. Any hope of making our intensely unequal and unsustainable city more equitable and resilient requires fundamental changes in the relationship between the government and its people, and between the economy and its infrastructure. This requires more than a change of administrations; it requires a reconstruction of the governance process itself.

Public Banking & Economic Democracy

May 21, 2014
Gwendolyn Hallsmith
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Private banks have not always been accepted institutions, fixtures of commerce, and purveyors of most of our economic transactions. Throughout US history, there have been robust public conversations about banks, largely due to their propensity to derail the economy when their business models fail. One example of this was in rural Vermont in 1806, when the state established their first public bank. Testimony on that bill, from Governor Tichenor lays out the problem:

Jackson, Miss. using worker-owned cooperatives to advance economic democracy

May 17, 2014
Gracie Davie
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When Iya’Falola Omobola first crossed the Mississippi state border 10 years ago, she felt uneasy. A friend told her that she was “feeling the energy from all those bodies hanging in the trees.” Yet, Omobola’s feeling soon changed. Born into a family of civil rights and labor organizers in Cleveland, Ohio, Omobola came to see Jackson as the Phoenix that rises from the ashes.

Participatory Budgeting continues to grow in NYC

April 4, 2014
Jay Cassano
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It would be tough to find something people like to complain about more than politicians. Now, thanks to New York City's Participatory Budgeting project, we get to do part of their job for them.

With the fast flow of information these days, the average citizen can easily be just as informed as any local politician or policy wonk. So why do we need politicians to spend our tax dollars for us? Especially when it comes local communities, people have a visceral and intuitive understanding of the changes they want to see.

NYT: Cooperative businesses benefit both worker-owners and their communities

March 25, 2014
Shaila Dewan
news photo

If you happen to be looking for your morning coffee near Golden Gate Park and the bright red storefront of the Arizmendi Bakery attracts your attention, congratulations. You have found what the readers of The San Francisco Bay Guardian, a local alt-weekly, deem the city’s best bakery. But it has another, less obvious, distinction.

TRUTHOUT: Building a more democratic banking system

March 17, 2014
Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese
news photo

In Part I of this series, we examined breaking up the too-big-to-fail-or- jail banks, regulating them - especially

COMMON DREAMS: Is the 'sharing economy' a pathway to greater economic democracy?

January 22, 2014
Adam Parsons
news photo

In recent years, the concept and practice of sharing resources is fast becoming a mainstream phenomenon across North America, Western Europe and other world regions. The internet is awash with articles and websites that celebrate the vast potential of sharing human and physical assets, in everything from cars and bicycles to housing, workplaces, food, household items, and even time or expertise.

Al Jazeera: Oxfam says world's rich threaten democracy

January 21, 2014
Al Jazeera
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The 85 richest people on planet "own the wealth of half the world's population", the charity said.

The world's elite have rigged laws in their own favour undermining democracy and creating a chasm of inequality across the globe, charity Oxfam said in advance of the annual get-together of the world's most powerful at Davos.

WATCH: Ben Manski, Leland Pan, Jolie Lizotte and more on the future of student organizing

November 7, 2013
Liberty Tree Foundation

Last August hundreds of people from across the country convened in Madison, WI for the  2nd Democracy Convention.  Made up of nine individual conferences, the Convention was an extraordinary space for individuals and organizations to network with and learn from one another in the service of building a larger, more dynamic democracy movement.

NAOMI KLEIN: How Science Is Telling Us All To Revolt

October 29, 2013
Naomi Klein
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In December 2012, a pink-haired complex systems researcher named Brad Werner made his way through the throng of 24,000 earth and space scientists at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, held annually in San Francisco. This year’s conference had some big-name participants, from Ed Stone of Nasa’s Voyager project, explaining a new milestone on the path to interstellar space, to the film-maker James Cameron, discussing his adventures in deep-sea submersibles.

ELLEN BROWN: We need public banks more than ever

October 2, 2013
Ellen Brown
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To ask whether public banks would interfere with free markets assumes that we have free markets, which we don’t. Banking is heavily subsidized and is monopolized by Wall Street, which has effectively “bought” Congress. Banks have been bailed out by the government, when in a free market they would have gone bankrupt.

Liberty Tree hosting Gar Alperovitz in Santa Barbara, CA

Date: 
May 1, 2014 - 12:00pm - May 2, 2014 - 1:00pm

Location

Santa Barbara, CA

Community Democracy: America Beyond Capitalism?

For more information visit: www.democracysb.org

CommonBound: Moving Together Toward a New Economy

Date: 
June 6, 2014 - 9:00am - June 8, 2014 - 5:00pm

Location

Northeastern University Boston, MA

This June 6-8, more than 500 movement leaders, activists, practitioners, and newcomers will come together in Boston for CommonBound, the New Economy Coalition’s largest and most significant convening yet.

Sign the petition supporting striking Verizon workers

"We are on strike because we will do whatever it takes to create a better workplace for ourselves and those that follow.

From: 
https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/stand-with-striking-verizon-workers
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