Proutist economic development cooperatives
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Proutist Economic Development Cooperatives. By Dharmadeva. Cooperative industries. All people have the right to be guaranteed minimum requirements such as food (including water), clothing, housing, education and medical care.

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Proutist Economic Development Cooperatives

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Proutist economic development cooperatives

Proutist Economic DevelopmentCooperatives

By Dharmadeva


Cooperative industries

Cooperative industries

  • All people have the right to be guaranteed minimum requirements such as food (including water), clothing, housing, education and medical care.

  • These basic requirements should be cooperatively produced because they are essential collective requirements.


Cooperatives as a form of economic enterprise

Cooperatives as a form of economic enterprise

  • Co-ops help people work together and move forward in a collective way.

  • They are capable of seeking a balanced adjustment between collective spirit and individual rights.

  • Getting things done with collective effort.


Benefits

Benefits

  • Combines the wealth and resources of many individuals and harnesses them in a united way.

  • Structured so that individual interestdoes not dominate collective interests.

  • Individual dominance can adversely effect the welfare of different social groups. 


Essence of cooperatives

Essence of cooperatives

  • Involves getting things done between free human beings with:(i) equal rights;(ii) equal human prestige (and mutual respect for each other);(iii) equal locus standi (eg, legal standing);

    so that everyone's welfare is considered. 

    This is called "coordinated cooperation".


Coordinated cooperation

Coordinated Cooperation

  • Needed for equilibrium and equipoise in social life.

  • A socio-economic system should be based on coordinated cooperation not subordinated cooperation. 

  • "Subordinated cooperation" involves people doing something individually or collectively, but keeping themselves under other peoples' supervision or control.

  • This can degenerate the moral fabric of an enterprise and should be avoided when structuring cooperative business enterprises.


Workforce composition

Workforce composition

  • All groups in the cooperative workforce will benefit from the cooperative's profits.

  • They will be entitled to draw dividends and salaries including bonuses on the basis of their membership in, and services they render to, the cooperative.

  • Labourers or workers also include those who are engaged in cooperative management.

  • The members of a cooperative can be composed of:(i) shareholders - who receive salaries for their work plus a return on their shares;(ii) non-shareholders or labourers - who enjoy stable employment and favourable wages or incomes.


Cooperatives ownership

Cooperatives ownership

  • Without a sense of personal ownership people do not work hard or care for property.

  • Suppression of personal ownership sentiments results in sluggish production and psychic oppression.

  • In cooperatives, there is personal ownership, subject to:

    • social limitations on concentration of wealth; and

    • a mechanism to ensure progressive increase in everyone's living standards.


Membership requirements

Membership requirements

  • Worker's or shareholder's longer term commitment to the cooperative.

  • Cooperative members have to be local people who, by virtue of their established residence, can make a commitment to the cooperative and the region it services.

  • Local is a relative concept and expands over time.

  • Anyone who wishes to be part of the socio-economic life of a region can settle there and become a member of a local cooperatives.


Shareholder composition

Shareholder composition

  • Members who purchase shares in a cooperative should have no power or right to transfer their shares without the permission of the cooperative.

  • Such a pre-emptive right allows existing shareholders to determine the basis of membership, and prevents capitalist entrepreneurs from purchasing large numbers of shares in a cooperative and speculating in the market.


Share transfer

Share transfer

  • Shares can however be inherited.

  • Generally, the shares of cooperative members without descendants simply pass on to their legally authorised successors, who become members of the cooperative if they are not already members.

  • Different countries have different systems of inheritance, so the right of inheritance should be decided according to the system in vogue.

  • In Western common law countries if someone inherits shares in a business enterprise and does not want to become a member of that enterprise, existing shareholders simply buy that person out.

  • The same reasoning can be applied to cooperatives - following this arrangement will help cooperative members avoid litigation. 


New shareholders

New shareholders

  • Because cooperative members will be from the same vicinity they will all know each other, so there should be no difficulty in deciding who should be able to buy shares due to ignorance about potential shareholders.


Dividend distribution

Dividend distribution 

  • In a cooperative system there is no need for preference shares.

  • Today preference shares are used by some financial institutions as a substitute for debt investments (ie loans to businesses).

  • Preference shares really mean that a lender in the guise of a shareholder has first grab at co-op dividends and therefore co-op profits.

  • Such investors should become ordinary shareholders like other co-op members and share proportionately in the success (or perhaps otherwise) of the co-op.


Non shareholder workers

Non-shareholder workers

  • Non-shareholding workers are possible and can be categorized into those who are:

    (i) permanent labourers - who get bonuses and premiums (‘dividends’) as incentives besides their wages; and 

    (ii) casual or contract labourers - who only get wages for their labour. 


Bonus distributions

Bonus distributions

  • Workers (or worker/shareholders) who give the greatest service to the cooperative should get the greatest bonuses.

  • Bonuses should be paid in proportion to wage rates and should reflect both the skill and productivity of the worker.


Incentive system

Incentive system

  • Cooperatives are to develop a proper incentive system so that individual initiative by talented people is encouraged.

  • An incentive system should ensure that intelligent people are not forced to do work which is unsuitable for them, or be paid the same wages as ordinary workers.

  • If skilled workers get paid more than unskilled workers there will be an incentive for all to become skilled and work harder.

  • In this way the cooperative will encourage the educational and skill upgrading of its members. 


Who else benefits

Who else benefits?

  • Disadvantaged persons can also benefit from the cooperative system.

  • A widow, orphaned minor or disabled worker can own shares and derive an income based on the number of shares they own.

  • Therefore even if as cooperative members they are unable to work or are retired, they will can still be entitled to an income from special funds deriving cooperative profits, eg pension funds.

  • Establishing such a structure on a large scale should be able to do away with the welfare state mentality prevalent in capitalist societies.


Cooperative behaviour

Cooperative behaviour

  • Encourage individual initiative by talented people.

  • Organisational behaviour and outlook to be cultivated is one that is non-materialistic.

  • Leadership is subtle and sophisticated.


Cooperative management

Cooperative management

  • Cooperative members should elect a board of directors from amongst the cooperative members.

  • The position of director should not be honorary or hereditary.

  • Directors must be moralists.


Board of directors

Board of Directors

  • The board decides the amount of profit to be divided amongst members, ie the dividends or bonuses to be paid to each shareholder and/or worker.

  • However, not all profit should be distributed in the form of dividends. Some should be kept or used for:(i) reinvestment, purchasing capital items or repair and maintenance; (ii) increasing the authorised capital of existing shareholders;(iii) deposit into a reserve fund to be used to increase the value or rate of dividends in years when production is low.

  • This also ensures that shareholder capital is not adversely affected.


Farmer cooperatives

Farmer cooperatives

  • The importance of food means there has to be maximum and safe utilisation of agricultural land.

  • The best way to achieve proper organisation of agriculture is on a cooperative basis.

  • Land is very important in the psychology of farmers so a proper cooperative system has to be built up to give farmers a sense of ownership of their land and permanent usufructuary rights to the land while it is managed cooperatively.

  • This will also give a better outturn. 

  • The cooperative system has to be psychological and subtle so that farmers do not feel adversely affected or insecure. 


Pooling of land

Pooling of land

  • Farming cooperatives can be achieved by farmers pooling their land in cooperatives and keeping records of their shares based on the size of their individual land holdings.

  • In this way many small plots can be merged and boundaries for adjoining lands broken down, removing needless division of land into small individual holdings.

  • This allows for an increase in the area of land available for cultivation, benefiting farmers collectively.


Research and development

Research and development

  • In the cooperative system there is also great scope for agricultural research and development into new ways to better utilize and prolong the vitality of land.

  • The ill effects of chemical fertilizers, which are common in individual farming and relatively unavoidable because of lack of individual capital, could be minimized or eliminated. 


Producer cooperatives

Producer cooperatives

  • Cooperatives which are agricultural should sell their produce to producer cooperatives, which in turn can manufacture a wide variety of consumer goods.

  • Raw materials which are of non-farming origin, such as limestone for the production of cement, can also be processed by producer cooperatives. 

  • Producer cooperatives need to be formed for agro industries, agrico industries and non-agricultural industries.

  • The total profit of such cooperatives should be distributed amongst the workers and members of the cooperative according to their individual capital investment (shares) in the cooperative and the service (labour) they render to the production and management of the cooperative.


Farmer producer cooperatives

Farmer-producer cooperatives

  • Farmers in agricultural cooperatives may also create producer cooperatives to produce items for various industries.

  • Some cooperatives may function as both farmer and producer cooperatives. 

  • Farmer cooperatives which also function as producer cooperatives have the opportunity of increasing their profitability in various ways.

  • For example, producer cooperatives functioning with agricultural cooperatives could produce rice as well as oil from the husks. 


Consumer cooperatives

Consumer cooperatives

  • Consumer cooperatives will distribute consumer goods to members of the public at reasonable rates.

  • These cooperatives should be formed by persons having an interest in selling goods to the public (ie not hoarding), and will share profits according to the standard criteria of individual labour and capital investment (shares). 

  • Consumer cooperatives will be supplied by both agricultural and producer cooperatives.

  • For example, agricultural or producer cooperatives which produce cotton or silk thread will sell the thread to weaver cooperatives, which can produce cloth using the appropriate or latest technology.

  • Weaver cooperatives will in turn supply consumer cooperatives that sell the cloth to the public. 


Service cooperatives

Service cooperatives

  • These are special cooperatives which should be formed by people involved in service-type industries, such as doctors.

  • Professional cooperatives for dentists, accountants, etc can also be formed.

  • Small business may remain privately owned.


Satellite cooperatives

Satellite cooperatives

  • An economy can advocate the formation of many small satellite cooperatives to supply various items to large producer cooperatives.

  • Eg, different parts of a motor car can be locally manufactured in small cooperatives (and even carried out as cottage industries).

  • The main function of the producer cooperative will then be assembly.

  • This has two benefits: (i) large cooperatives will not require many labourers, minimizing labour unrest; and (ii) labour costs can be reduced, keeping the cost of commodities low.


Proutist economic development cooperatives

COOPERATIVE GAMES

- are a technique of experiential education that raises consciousness and teaches solidarity.


Proutist economic development cooperatives

Cooperative games

- promote kindness, honesty, trust and teamwork.


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