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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

Homemade Ice Cream / Microsoft Anti-Trust

August 30, 2008
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I just spent a summer in Brazil with my fiancee in her hometown, a small village.  With the internet a walk or a short bus ride away, I had the pleasure to learn a simple recipe for basic ice cream.  A 400 gram can of evaporated milk, one liter of milk, organic and cooperative if possible, like the rest of the ingredients, fruit, chocolate or other tasty ingredient, and voila.  Freeze it. 

      After years in community work with some time in a corporate office, I have returned to graduate school and am delving ever deeper into the meaning of collaborative ownership in cooperatives and innovation through start ups.  Strangely, the impact is profound.  Modern corporate capitalist consumer advertising and ideology has really brainwashed society deeply, so that the "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" and "The Matrix" have converged around the obsessions with McDonald's, Coca-Cola, and driving your own car so that addressing petroleum addiction is not a priority. 

      Predatory corporate capitalism and its manipulative power is a manifestation of modern education, and along with the assumptions of a law abiding society, are developments of Judeo-Christian civilization through Thomas Aquinas.  A variety of movements express these fundamentals, such as the Society of Friends of Christ, aka the Quakers, similar in culture analogous to the Amish, and the Voluntary Simplicity movement named for Duane Elgin's work.  Improvements through greater knowledge and science are not necessarily bad, but the mistreatment of others for material gain can now be identified openly. 

       Whole cost environmental and social accounting and joint ownership partnership cooperative businesses, and make it yourself practices are the clear links to sustainable development and restoring culture to its citizens.  Corporations can then no longer rob consumers of their own esteem and culture.

        I am grateful to many sources, including the Park Slope Food Coop in Brooklyn, NY for these awarenesses.  While singing, cooking, craftwork, machine shops are all excellent and worthy, it can start simply by making your own ice cream.  Easy.  

Microsoft Anti-Trust     

After reading Joel Schoening's piece on Corporate Personhood, the CELDF, and Democracy Schools, I did some research on the Anti-Trust suit waged against Microsoft here and abroad.  Microsoft, by binding its internet browser Internet Explorer to its hardware was monopolizing a market which included Netscape already back in 1992.  The case was brought by a group of states.  A quick review of the case shows that Microsoft was consistently evasive, and a slew of neoliberal economists disposed to argue against regulation.  The judges initial decision to break Microsoft up was overturned by the Appeals court because of a different "scope of liability" and Judge Jackson's own media interviews in violation of a Judge's Code of Conduct.  In fact he justified himself by referring to the clear bad behavior of Microsoft's executives.  Do two wrongs make a right?   A new Judge and the DOJ negotiated a settlement for Microsoft to share necessary programming with competitors.  It appears to have been on a limited basis, and an anti-trust law professor has called the effects "anti-trust immunity."         In Europe, the case began with complaints by Novell and unfair royalty licensing terms, and then another by Sun Microsystems regarding disclosure of interface programming, and then binding of Windows Media Player.  The fines levied by the EU were the highest in history.  Microsoft's failure to respond to the initial ruling then resulted in even higher fines.

         Apple is a major alternative to Microsoft, and appears to deserve some support.  I have seen people using Linux, and aspire someday to support it.  I understand that Firefox is another form of open software as a browser, and have been able to use it.  More generally, the efforts of Public Interest groups are good to recall in service of consumer activism and entrepreneurship.  ACORN for underserved communities, USPIRG for the public interest, AmericanRights at Work for employees, Better Business Bureau for consumers, as well as the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, and CELDF, as discussed by Joel Schoening elsewhere on the GEO site.

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