Michael Shuman: What’s the cost-effective way to create jobs?

[Local small businesses are resilient and profitable. Why are we wasting billions of stimulus dollars on larger corporations? Michael has a better idea. He says: “We are about to see a massive move to localization… but how will we fund it?” This is a passionate, entertaining, and hopeful presentation. You may remember Michael visiting Ukiah a couple of times, debating the empty chair that the Mall supporters would not occupy, helping with our successful fight to stop the Masonite Monster Mall. This is the next step.  Who is going to step up and champion this locally? -DS]

Michael H. Shuman is Director for Research and Economic Development for the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE). Shuman is an economist, attorney, author, and entrepreneur and is one of the nation’s leading experts on community economics and the advantages of small-scale businesses in an era of globalization. In his talk today, Shuman will present a idea of a stimulus package in local stock exchange. The key goals are to transform local businesses in small-stock companies and to create modest, intrastate electronic exchanges. With these simple and sensible legal reforms it could correct this market failure and bring literally trillions of new investment dollars into our communities.


We haven’t heard the other shoe drop yet so we are still fantasizing about “jobs.” The system of wage labor, as a long history of social criticism has repeatedly pointed out, normalizes the vast discrepancy in power between labor and capital. Jobs are a really bad idea for a viable future. A more effective approach would be for folks to band together in labor cooperatives where the “employer” is dealing with a representative of the coop rather than a groveling “employee” (read wage slave). More important than even climate destruction is the issue of the imbalance in power relationships in our capitalist society. If and when we heal this social cancer the rest of the looming problems will be accessible to resolution, not until. A good place to start on realigning our social relations is to stamp out the concept of “jobs.” Focus instead on the twin needs of basic support for families and individuals and balancing the power of individual workers, enhanced by an attitude of mutual aid, with concentrated power. Worker associations (Unions in old speak) fighting for a fair deal with potential employers and guaranteeing basic needs of members is the path to a happy future.


Screw jobs! Liberation now!

    I agree with you, Herb, for some of the larger projects needed for short-term energy conversion. But long-term, as energy begins its inevitable, ever-rising cost and supply-decline, the industrial dinosaur want-suppliers will begin dying off and locally we will need co-ops and mom-and-pop small businesses to supply our needs.