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I've been thinking about what I believe to be is one of the greatest challenges when it comes to the constant struggle for social justice between those who hold economic and political power, and the citizenry: Leverage.

What do I mean by that?  After years of analyzing this issue, I've come to the conclusion that aside from the manipulative effects of corporate media conglomeration on the population, the biggest leverage the ruling class has over the citizens is their control of the means of production, and capital.

This means that the system has been rigged to transfer wealth and power from the citizens to a tiny ruling class, which in turn uses that wealth and power to buy off government officials and the legal system, helping them consolidate their control over the population.

Given these dynamics, when the oppression and exploitation gets so bad that the citizens find it necessary to rise up in protest (i.e., Occupy), their options are very limited because their very survival depends on the capitalist system controlled by the oppressors.

Again, after thinking about this seemingly intractable problem (for the average citizen) for many years now, I've come up with the following ideas, for your consideration.


The keystone of this economic arrangement revolves around the idea of applying the concept of democracy to a new type of marketplace.

Before I elaborate further, let me assure you that I have thought carefully about the issues related to incentives, and rewards for hard work and excellence, which many economic theorists believe to be very important.

To make sure you are comfortable with what I'm about to describe, I'll ask you to think of a typical business you may be familiar with.  It could be a clothing store, or a pizzeria, or a high tech company, or a bakery.  You're standing across the street from this business, and everything about it looks typical, common; just another business...

Now let's go below the surface.  The business is employee-owned, and is also a member of business collective (similar to a chamber of commerce).  The employees own the business; it has managers and executives, who were selected by democratic vote.

The compensation for the rank-and-file employee owners, the managers, and the executives was defined by vote also, taking into consideration competitive market conditions.

As the company grows and becomes successful, the employees may decide to increase the salaries of the managers and executives, and will also define the compensation and benefits for the rank-and-file employees, always taking into consideration conditions in the marketplace.

In the final analysis, expenditures in salaries and benefits may, as a whole, be in line with similar types of companies in the industry, but income and profits would be more evenly distributed, which would result in better working conditions for the rand-and-file employee owners.

A very important component of this type of business would be the concept of sustainability, both, in being socially conscious, and in the environmental impact of the enterprise.

Some of the main advantages of this type of business is that it can easily be started within our current economic framework, while at the same time it could deeply transform our entire economic system (if it was implemented broadly).

The only thing necessary for this type of labor market economics shift would be for average people to accept the proposition that they could do this easily; that it is not a radical and difficult idea.  They would have to consider a new paradigm.

Mass Media

And speaking of new paradigms, the concept is a great segue to the issue of the impact mass media has over the citizenry, especially when is under the control of a tiny group of corporate conglomerates.

We all know the problem this situation has created in our society, with the rapid homogenization of culture, thinking, and news, all of it designed to benefit the ruling class.

We also know that because the politicians are pretty much on the take, mass media conglomeration will continue apace, unmolested...

But here again, I propose we can do a workaround.  And I argue that because what I'm about to propose is not expected by the powerful business interests running things now, we could blindside them and get up from under the propagandist effects of the corporate media conglomeration.  By the way, the reason they don't expect it is because they don't think people are sophisticated enough to figure out a way to get around their control.

In a nutshell, the situation we find ourselves in is one where because of the control of the mass media by a few corporate conglomerates, and after having developed advertising, marketing, and public relations techniques based on over a hundred years of mass psychology research, these seemingly hidden (but very powerful) forces/interests are able to manipulate a very large segment (some say, the majority) of the population into acting against their self-interests, or irrationally.

My proposal consists on forming a highly sophisticated and effective advertising agency owned by the people.  The agency would operate just like a typical professional ad agency, but instead of peddling unbridled consumerism,  lies, misinformation, and propaganda, it would focus on messaging meant to influence average citizens into acting in favor of their own interests, and that of society at large, as well as the environment.

Ironically, if people acted like this, national income would be more evenly distributed, people would be happier, and the environment would not be ravaged by voracious and unquenchable greed.

An initial idea to launch this project goes like this... We target a city and launch an ad campaign announcing a day of activism that would include a rally (against corruption), and a seminar on how to start employee-owned businesses and collectives.

Again, the ad campaign would be very high-quality and sophisticated, designed by experienced, advertising and marketing professionals.

Prototype Project

I have designed a prototype project to test these concepts, as follows.  I set up a "Crowd Funding" account with gofundme, with a goal of raising $2,000 within 30 days.

Here's what we're (everybody that contributes) are going to do with the funds: We're going to order about 30,000 4x6 flyers (see image below), and about 100 posters to use at a rally in San Francisco in mid-March.

We'll also budget advertising buys on local, mainstream newspapers, and radio.  And in addition, we'll do online advertising with GoogleAdwords, and Facebook.

On the day(s) of the "activities" we'll follow the "flash mob" and the "murmurations" approach.  All of the sudden, a flash mob appears in the financial district, and people start passing out flyers.  Everybody would be asked not to break any law, regulation, etc., but the sheer number of people in itself would attract the attention of the "authorities."  When they get "there," and ask individual people to obey a request, people would comply immediately.  Then people would disperse.

An hour later, the flash mob would appear at another busy location, like the Metreon (is that still the name, or is it Target?), and pass out flyers, carry posters and protest signs.  When the "authorities" show up, people will disperse.  An hour later, people show up at another location, so on and so forth.  There would be a lot of coordination via social media, twitter, etc.  I won't disclose all the details here...

Before all this happens, the media would have been contacted, press releases would have been sent, letters to the editor (at local newspapers) would have been submitted.

We would also reach out to Occupy Oakland and Occupy San Francisco to invite them to collaborate.

All funds collected would be used for the project, and the accounting for the expenses will be posted publicly (at my website,

Everybody that crowd-funds this project will have a say in the planning.  I'm thinking of maybe putting a planning committee of about 10 people (about the first ten people who submit $20.00?), and then we'll plan the "project" and maybe the rest of the people who contribute can vote on the ideas submitted by the planning committee.

If this prototype project is successful, then we'll plan many others around the country.  We'll make use of media, photos, videos, testimonies, art, music, things to inspire and motivate people.

Below is a link to the crowd-funding account for this prototype project for those interested in participating.

I also welcome any ideas or suggestions.  I'm also very interested in hearing from business owners, and career professionals in advertising and marketing (confidentially).  I can be reached at

I will start a project section on my website,, where we will be able to share information about the progress.

This organization Evergreen Cooperatives is a great example of the concept of employee-owned enterprises.


Some energy driving us... Murmurations

The current state of affairs.  Let's change it!

Here are other resources:

- The National Center for Employee Ownership: The NCEO is a nonprofit organization, established in 1981, whose mission is to provide the most objective and reliable information possible on employee ownership at the most affordable price possible. Our members include companies, professional practitioners, government officials, academics, and others. Although we are a membership-based organization, our outreach is not limited to members. Many people buy our publications and attend our events without becoming NCEO members—they simply pay higher prices.

- The Employee Ownership 100: America's Largest Majority Employee-Owned Companies

- Green Bay Packers: The Green Bay Packers are an American football team based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. They are members of the North Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL). Green Bay is the third-oldest franchise in the NFL, having been organized and playing in 1919. The Packers are the only non-profit, community-owned major league professional sports team in the United States.

- Institute for New Economic Thinking: The Institute for New Economic Thinking’s mission is to nurture a global community of next-generation economic leaders, to provoke new economic thinking, and to inspire the economics profession to engage the challenges of the 21st century.

- The Permaculture Institure: [Thanks to OPOL for sharing this information] Permaculture is an ecological design system for sustainability in all aspects of human endeavor. It teaches us how build natural homes, grow our own food, restore diminished landscapes and ecosystems, catch rainwater, build communities and much more.

Originally posted to Ray Pensador on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 01:14 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions, American Legislative Transparency Project, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, and TrueMarket.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Money talks, bullshit walks (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kaliope, Chi, Sandino, katiec, Ray Pensador

    You will have $50 from me before the day is out. My credit card info is downstairs. With my broken left foot, I am restrained from running down to get it now to finish before I leave for work.

    Just your average every day Autistic hillbilly/biker/activist/union steward with an engineering degree.

    by Mentatmark on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 01:57:04 AM PST

    •  Done! $50 via your website and the Donate link (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kaliope, Chi, Sandino, Ray Pensador

      That let me use the PayPal option. No running downstairs and back up.

      Just your average every day Autistic hillbilly/biker/activist/union steward with an engineering degree.

      by Mentatmark on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 02:03:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wow! I'm extremely humbled by your support! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mentatmark, NoMoreLies

      Humbled and encouraged.  I got the $50.00 via PayPal.  I will never forget that you took the first step in supporting this vision; I'm going to do everything I can to move it forward.

      So now you are a member of the planning committee; it makes two of.  We need eight more to reach my goal of having 10 planning committee members.

      He're the plan... Let's give ourselves 30 days to see how much we can raise.  All the funds will remain untouched during that time.

      In the meantime we'll come up with a plan on how to make the best use of the funds we do raise.

      I'm proposing we use it for advertising, and marketing material, including flyers, and posters.

      In mid-March we launch the ad/outreach campaign to do a murmuration-type activity in mid April, and we'll come up with a very impactful name/concept to engage the public.

      In my website,, I'm going to set up a bulletin board so we can plan in the open.  Everybody will see the process.

      We'll need to hit twitter, facebook, email, etc.  I'm also setting up a newsletter blast to reach out to people.

      If we do this right, there is no reason why we couldn't have a very impressive "operation" in mid-April with thousands of people participating.

      I'll be in touch via email.

  •  The exclusive use of public resources is (0+ / 0-)

    doled out by our public officials. That's been happening since European explorers arrived in the New World with land grants from the crowned heads of Europe in their hands. In addition, those grants were, eventually, secured by military force. In some cases, the original owners were coerced into selling or giving their territory away. In others the owners were killed and then, finally, populations were removed to "reservations"--the progenitors of concentration camps.

    The Germans did not invent population removal.  Neither did the Soviets. Moving people around like cattle to where they are wanted or away from where they are not wanted differs very little from animal husbandry.  Indeed, human husbandry only differs, in the long run, in that human usually don't get et.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 02:31:19 AM PST

  •  Unlike hannah, I am inspired by your diary, Ray! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mentatmark, Sandino, Ray Pensador
  •  nothing wrong with a prototype... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mentatmark, Jim Tietz, Ray Pensador

    definately worth a try.  Keep it simple and see what emerges.  I like it.  Even though I am in Maine i will support the West Coast effort...we are all in this together!

    "For the world is in a bad state, but everything will become still worse unless each of us does his best." V. Frankl

    by Wonton Tom on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 04:08:09 AM PST

    •  Thank you so much. I got your email. The main (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      reason I'd like to do this test run in the SF Bay Area is because if it works, I would like to see it happening all over the country.

      We can't sit and wait for the powers that be to continue the abuse any longer.  But we have to be smart; think outside the box; outflank them.

      I'll be in touch via email.  BTW, you're now the third member of the planning committee.  We need seven more.

  •  "America After Capitalism" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mentatmark, Simplify, Ray Pensador

    by Gar Aperowitz is an easy-to-read, informative overview of how employee-owned busineses, cooperatives, and social enterprises can change the landscape of the market.

    Some good ideas here ... it's a long road, but you've got to start somewhere.

    None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free. -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    by achronon on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 04:13:27 AM PST

  •  As someone new to corporate media conglomeration, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ray Pensador

    and how it is defined in the diary,

    the situation we find ourselves in is one where because of the control of the mass media by a few corporate conglomerates, and after having developed advertising, marketing, and public relations techniques based on over a hundred years of mass psychology research, these seemingly hidden (but very powerful) forces/interests are able to manipulate a very large segment (some say, the majority) of the population into acting against their self-interests, or irrationally.
    Since both sides of the political spectrum wail incessantly about this issue, there must be much truth to the issue. However, wouldn't you agree that the Internet and cable outlets provide adequate alternatives? Look at the numbers who see Comedy Central as a legitimate news source, at least among those under 22 years of age, or Drudge or Breitbart on the Internet as alternatives to corporate media.

    "If the past sits in judgment on the present, the future will be lost." Winston Churchill

    by Kvetchnrelease on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 05:49:16 AM PST

  •  People-directed businesses (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ray Pensador, Mentatmark

    Another great diary, Ray.  Any table of contents for the upcoming posts or will they be a surprise?

    Your point about employee-run businesses with appropriate levels of reward to provide incentive/feedback is an interesting one.  I have been thinking, in fact, about how to adapt a Kos-like community to perform the functions of a virtual corporate structure.

    Key items here are the openness (transparency) of the dialog and the trust network (both formal -- mojo, and informal -- hey, I know that person!).  While things work very well around here for the most part, there are still challenges damping pie fights and dumping trolls.  The other "issue" is this model (DK) still uses a benevolent dictator -- Markos.

    The murmurations are also cool -- they've influenced my thinking from the standpoint of biomimicry.  Bird flocking is one of the early examples of teasing out a few simple underlying rules that describe the emergent behavior.  See BOIDS (yet another wiki reference).  I personally believe biomimicry is a great way to start thinking about sustainability.  Unsustainable systems are not stable in nature and will fail the test of evolution.

    Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone, 1866

    by Jim Tietz on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 06:36:25 AM PST

    •  Jim, I'm very impressed with you post. Regarding (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jim Tietz, Mentatmark

      Markos, I think he's a pretty good "Benevolent Dictator."  He's my kind of dictator!

      I'd love to get your input as we move these ideas forward...

      •  **blush** (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ray Pensador, Mentatmark

        I, too, give the person at the controls of this dictatorship high marks.  His character and thoughts infuse the site and in large ways created the emergent structure we call the DK community.

        The question is, how can we eliminate/mitigate the dependence on the benevolent use of power?  There's a saying... what was it... about absolute power?

        Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone, 1866

        by Jim Tietz on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 09:26:08 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I am a big fan of employee owned businesses (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ray Pensador, nextstep, Mentatmark

    Companies come in two basic forms, startups and established businesses. The challenge for employee owned companies is who provides the initial working capital for the startup or the money to buy an existing company from its current owners?

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 08:40:34 AM PST

    •  I've been thinking about that issue of working (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VClib, Mentatmark

      capital for employee-owned companies.  I'll be sharing them in the near future.

      •  This is an area where the federal gov't could help (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ray Pensador, Mentatmark

        The challenge is the structure of the loans and who would approve and administer them.

        The other area of interest is tax incentives for owners to sell existing companies to their employees, if the sale met certain criteria. Government loans could help here as well.

        I would really like to see the number of employee owned businesses really expand.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 09:32:37 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

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