December 14, 2011

Socialism, of a sort, is alive and well in Texas

I'm going to be moving shortly from the Permian Basin to the heart of the Hill Country.

And, my electricity will be going from TXU to ... a coop!

Not technically "socialism" in a narrow sense, but, it shows how government is here to help people, and was nearly 75 years ago.

Coops around the state got their boost from LBJ's push for rural electrification, paid for by the federal government. I wonder how many tea party types in small towns across Texas, as they run their stoves, air conditioners or electric heat, ever stop to think about what hypocrisy might be involved.

And, on the op-ed pages of the New York Times, Gar Alpherowitz talks about worker-owned businesses, with perfect timing:
Some 130 million Americans, for example, now participate in the ownership of co-op businesses and credit unions. More than 13 million Americans have become worker-owners of more than 11,000 employee-owned companies, six million more than belong to private-sector unions.

And worker-owned companies make a difference. In Cleveland, for instance, an integrated group of worker-owned companies, supported in part by the purchasing power of large hospitals and universities, has taken the lead in local solar-panel installation, “green” institutional laundry services and a commercial hydroponic greenhouse capable of producing more than three million heads of lettuce a year. 

Local and state governments are likewise changing the nature of American capitalism. Almost half the states manage venture capital efforts, taking partial ownership in new businesses. Calpers, California’s public pension authority, helps finance local development projects; in Alaska, state oil revenues provide each resident with dividends from public investment strategies as a matter of right; in Alabama, public pension investing has long focused on state economic development. 
Some good food for thought.

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