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    What Kind Of World Are We Inhabiting Next?
    Unleashing The Freedom Of Small Businesses
    Ensuring Equality Through Public Utilities and Supply Chains
    Community Cooperation: Need Measured Is Need Met



We live in a vastly different world from the postwar international order of the past seventy-five years. The challenges are staggering: climate disruption, biodiversity loss, pandemic disease, rising populations, widening inequality, frayed social safety nets and financial collapse. As humanity grapples with these perils, we are straddling two choices.

The first is a crumbling economic system powered by fossil fuels, nationalism and oligarchy. As cross-border flows of people, trade and capital slow to a trickle, autocratic parties prey upon the populist misery and anger of billions of people resulting from liberal globalization. A new illiberalism is surging. Racism is raging. Digitally-enhanced surveillance, state control of the press and free speech, and harsh restrictions on free assembly, travel and immigration -- all point toward authoritarian rulers uninterested in peaceful multilateral trade, satisfying their people’s needs or generating environmental security. This portends a brutal world of division and scarcity under emergency rationing, where citizens must fight over insufficient resources and opportunities.

The second path is a vibrant new movement for responsible citizen action. Today's political institutions are breaking down because world civilization has never embraced economic democracy. Now we are asked to do something that has never been done before: create a system of value that is equitable, sustainable and inclusive. This will require awakening the heart within each of us of what it means to be human -– a deep-seated yearning for interconnectedness in the present and intergenerational responsibility for the future.

A world that works for everyone starts with grassroots advocacy for economic democracy. We all have the right to safe, decent and fulfilling lives, but we also have the duty to self-organize and work with our leaders to make this happen. A new system of value must be designed in a simple, structured way, combining key ideas from the past with the emerging needs of the future. The following three principles of local economic democracy are pivotal leverage points in the creation of a more stable and resilient world. (Four additional principles will appear in July's EDA News.)
To begin this inquiry, think of the many things you have at home that are useful to you. Then consider all the public places, goods and services that you utilize and appreciate. In serving a useful purpose, these familiar things enrich your experience and make life easier. Within the field of economics, every product that has practical qualities and satisfies some personal function or need is said to have use value.

Use value is associated with economic freedom. This is because human beings, a highly active and creative species, express our free will and self-determination through the things we decide to use. And in using these things, we are also likely to take care of them to keep them functional.
Thus, the practical utilization of a good or service may engage both our power and sense of responsibility. It may even lead to the realization of some of our higher potentials, like the use of material or natural resources for the betterment of society. This is why many individuals are motivated to be productive, to own and operate their own businesses and profit from their work.

Yet, in practice, the incentive of use value often transforms into another, less altruistic form of personal utility. As giant corporations extract valuable resources from the natural world and from local communities, for example, the drive for corporate profit and shareholder value can overwhelm and displace the original principle of use value.

This underscores the importance of retaining use value in our communities. Use value inspires the entrepreneurial freedom of individual owners and their partners to create small firms that serve and strengthen local markets. By developing business opportunities in our own backyards, communities become economically self-sufficient. Instead of outside businesses siphoning off profits from our neighborhoods, the profits generated by these small-scale enterprises are reinvested back into the community.

The money that is re-spent locally has an interdependent impact on the jobs and goods produced in the area. Unleashing the freedom of small businesses reinvigorates the local economy, increases confidence in community decision-making and restores the original meaning of use value as a freedom of individual choice.
Next, think of the things you own that you appreciate mainly for their cash value. These are things that you value more for their cost than for their utility. In economics, when an item is compared with or exchanged for other commodities through its price in the marketplace, it loses the quality of use value and acquires an exchange value. In today’s corporate economy, exchange value is often thought of as the individual economic freedom created through the profit motive and personal purchasing power.

Yet to avoid appearing self-willed or greedy, the business world celebrates exchange value as a kind of collective economic equality, which, in one sense, is correct. Since the prices offered for products are the same for everyone and thus ‘equalized’ in their availability through a trading platform, we are told that the market economy generates equality in individual purchasing power because there are many different products from which we can choose. But in fact, exchange value creates the opposite reality: our local communities do not receive equal protection, equal treatment or equal access to the resources and services we need.

As products become relatively equal to access through the price system, it becomes easy for goods to be imported into our community from the outside. But when we seize this ‘equal opportunity’ to spend our currency elsewhere, we stop contributing to the wealth and well-being of our local markets. Meanwhile, exchange value is encouraging the unfettered power of big businesses to extract profits out of our communities without re-spending or investing this money locally. This steals our jobs and income, leaving financial hardship and hollowed-out cities, villages and farms behind. Instead of an engine for equality, exchange value has become the dominant cause of economic inequality.
There is another side to this. Since some products can be produced only by businesses that are very large in size, exchange value contributes to a concentration of power and wealth in many communities. For example, most food supply chains and energy utilities operate as business monopolies which take significant profits from their localities. But this is unfair to the public, which relies on essential resources like food and energy to meet their daily needs.

This imbalance may be addressed by keeping key industries that are vital to the community under the ownership of a local government, which charges a price that covers only the cost of its operation. These large public utilities and supply chains benefit society because, as the number of their users grows, the cost per customer to maintain their business declines. Public ownership of utilities and supply chains by local governments will provide an adequate supply of goods at the minimum possible cost to consumers and help to equalize their purchasing capacity, despite other economic disparities that are generated through exchange value.
Now, think about what is missing from our system of economic value. Historically, the principles of individual use value and collective exchange value have worked at cross-purposes, each structure creating wealth at the cost of poverty. The philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BC) was the first to describe this polarizing structure. He saw how the instruments of use value and exchange value (each on its own or sometimes operating together) enabled the wealthy, powerful and educated classes to create pyramidal economic structures that take advantage of poorer, weaker and less-educated persons.


How will this ever be resolved? What is behind this dualism? Down the ages in virtually all societies, cooperation has been viewed as an aspect of equality rather than a distinct structural principle of social value. The powerful solidarity that exists in human families, friendships, communities and commons associations has not changed since Aristotle’s time. Yet modern societies, through economic and social policies rooted in use value and exchange value, continue to repress women, indigenous peoples, people of color, artisans, farmers, workers and other united groups, often with extreme violence.

Organizations that operate on the principle of common interest and collaboration are called cooperatives. Cooperatives go back as far as human beings have organized themselves for mutual benefit. Tribal cultures worked together to hunt, gather food, build homes and fend off enemies. We need only look to our own bodies to see how essential such cooperation is. Every cell in our body relies on cooperation from other cells, organs and systems. Cooperation is apparent in nature right down to the molecular level.

This organic process of mutual support is very different from individual use value and collective exchange value. In a thriving economy, as in a thriving ecosystem, cooperation is an essential part of the dissemination of resources within a geographic area to meet the needs of its population. This unity between biology and society is the long-neglected basis of human collaboration and mutual aid. For this reason, it is irrelevant how useful a product is or what price it sells for unless we measure the extent to which it reaches the population that needs it. The empirical measure for this cooperative activity is carrying capacity or distributed value.
                          NEW SYSTEM OF ECONOMIC VALUE

Cooperation is needed to create a new economic system that answers directly to everyone’s needs. Cooperative organizations exist in almost every sphere of life — from housing, the arts and finance to the environment, agriculture and manufacturing. Many people are familiar with worker and consumer cooperatives, but the future is in cooperatives for distribution, through which resources are circulated freely and equitably to those who need them. Because the worker-owners of these cooperatives live and labor locally, they have a deep personal stake in determining how effectively human need is met within their community. Cooperative distribution is a major key to system change.

We have a chance now to transform the current economic system through the bio-social law of cooperation: need measured is need met. This is how our molecular structures and natural ecosystems operate: when a need is identified within a functioning whole system, the parts of this system collaborate immediately to satisfy the need. By measuring the distributed value of the resources in a region that are required to meet the needs of its people, communities will begin to support the principle of cooperation systematically. These support systems are detailed in the July edition of EDA News.
* Can we uninstall 2020 and reinstall it again? ... I think it has a virus.

* 2020 is a unique Leap Year. It has 29 days in February, 300 days in March, and 5 years in April.

* Coronavirus has turned us all into dogs. We roam the house all day looking for food. We’re told 'No!' if we get too close to strangers. And we get really excited about car rides.

* Wearing a mask inside your home is now highly recommended. Not so much to prevent Covid-19 but to stop eating.

* If you keep a glass of wine in each hand, you can’t accidentally touch your face.

* Does anyone know if we can take showers yet, or should we just keep washing our hands??

* If you thought toilet paper was crazy ... just wait until 300 million people all want a haircut appointment.

EDA launched its present website on January 1, 2017, just as President Barack Obama was leaving office. The website was updated occasionally and has been serviceable for our members and the public, which is what we aimed for three-and-a-half years ago.

But like a child who has outgrown her clothes, our public appearance has not kept up with our rapid development. Times change, fashions change, while our values have become clearer and our learning has deepened. We need an image now that reflects who we really are -- as a cooperative business, as an advocacy group and as a network for equitable and sustainable resource management.

This month, a team of volunteers will begin developing a new platform that reflects our identity. It will not be a refreshment but a reconstruction of our current website. We're very excited about this opportunity to engage with the world through a more attractive appearance and more coherent message.

Please contact James at if you have writing, graphic or technical skills and would like to be involved. EDA plans to unveil our new persona on November 3, 2020. Election Day seems like an appropriate time to begin a new era with a new look.


EDA's ratification in May agreed to David Cunningham as Chair of Research and disagreed with the Advocacy Chair and three policy proposals. The Board of Trustees met with the Election Board on May 28 to review the process. The Board of Trustees is proud of the work of the Board of Elections in running a fair, honest and independent ratification. It is clear that the ratification results were accurate.

We also recognize that some of the procedures for ratification may have affected the outcome. As evidenced from emails and posts on the Active Members site, EDA members experienced some confusion around how to cast ballots. There was added misunderstanding about the difference between elections and ratifications. Overall, EDA members seem unclear about the purpose of ratification and it is the responsibility of EDA administrators now to communicate this information more effectively.

The Election Board and Board of Trustees will be addressing these issues before the next round of elections and ratifications. Please bear with us as we work on improving the process. Our desire is to create greater transparency in EDA decision-making. Because the ratification process is designed for everyone to have a direct voice in organizational decisions, all Active Members are expected to take part. We thank you for engaging!

What makes an organization an organism? When illustrating how Economic Democracy Advocates is meant to work as a self-organizing cooperative, the developers of our organizational chart thought that a biological cell would serve as an ideal model. Consequently, nesting circles were used to depict EDA's operating network. The innermost circle, resting at the bottom of the chart, represents the Executive Committee.
This axial position signifies that the Executive Committee holds gravity while monitoring the development of the Governing Circle. Serving at the core of the organism, the Executive Committee is responsible for putting into place and maintaining correct and timely relationships with regulatory agencies, such as the Internal Revenue Service and the Secretary of State of California (where EDA is incorporated).

Besides caring for EDA's compliance, the Executive Committee ensures that our legal and fiduciary duties are met. It also verifies that necessary elections, appointments and ratifications are carried out and that our programs are planned and functioning effectively.

As in the nucleus of a living cell, the Executive Committee's job is to generate or enhance the organic functions critical to the cell's life. And, just as in a cell, the needs of the rest of the organization must be recognized, measured and responded to equitably and sustainably to fulfill our mission. This requires regular feedback from the members of our Governing Circle to the Executive Committee. As a flourishing business cooperative, our working principle is: need measured is need met.

We believe that the surest way to self-generating, democratic change is through the power of law. Our Advocacy Program trains individuals to speak with their elected officials on specific legislation for the equal and sustainable use of resources within their political districts.

Building upon the Advocacy Intensive and Training at our Asheville and Oakland programs last year, EDA’s Research Team has been engaged in discussions with potential cosponsors, including local groups from Maine, New York and Illinois to Colorado, California and Oregon. EDA Research is developing several collaborative projects that will culminate in some form of in-person advocacy training with elected representatives in these areas.

Meanwhile, the Advocacy Team has been revamping its training manual based on what it learned from last year's experiences. As Covid-19 emerged, Advocacy shifted focus to a virtual platform and will eventually be using both in-person and online formats.

The Advocacy Team has begun developing a four-part series of short (5 min.) videos to be launched on EDA’s Facebook page, and adapted for the new website and other social media formats, including webinars. This initial series of videos will provide a values-based understanding and systemic approach to advocating for economic democracy.

If you have an awesome background in any aspect of video production (technical, creative or performance), a keen insight into social media (targeted to different demographics), or a burning interest in writing or editing, then please consider joining the Advocacy Team. They need your expertise and your ideas, whether you have one hour or ten to give.

The team currently meets via Zoom on Thursdays at 4:00 PDT/7:00 EDT. You can find the Zoom link in the Active Member site, under the Advocacy Team Zoom Meeting thread each week. Check it out!

EDA Delegation visiting District Director Tonya Love at the office of CA 18th State District Assemblymember Rob Bonta, October 7, 2019
The position of Director of Marketing is now open. This person will be in charge of leading our organization's marketing efforts in generating long-term value for EDA from members, partnering organizations, markets and the public. The Director will be responsible for evaluating and developing marketing strategies, planning and coordinating marketing efforts and communicating EDA marketing plans to those involved.

A job description is posted on the Active Members site under Director of Marketing. Applications for this position are open from June 1 -12. Please send a short letter of application, a brief description of why the job appeals to you and a CV or resume to:

A Healthy Economy Should be Designed to Thrive, not Grow
What would a sustainable, universally beneficial economy look like? "Like a doughnut," says Oxford economist Kate Raworth. In a stellar, eye-opening talk, she explains how we can move countries out of the hole -- where people are falling short on life's essentials -- and create regenerative, distributive economies that work within the planet's ecological limits.

Mark Carney on How the Economy Must Yield to Human Values
Value will change in the post-covid world. On one level, that’s obvious: valuations in global financial markets have imploded, with many suffering their sharpest declines in decades. More fundamentally, the traditional drivers of value have been shaken, new ones will gain prominence, and there’s a possibility that the gulf between what markets value and what people value will close.

How the World Could Change After the Coronavirus Pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic is more global, dramatic and unusual than any crisis we've seen in a long time, says CNN journalist Fareed Zakaria. Listen as he shares his perspective on how we can recover from the economic fallout, why certain countries were able to avoid major outbreaks and what this might mean for the balance of global power. This virtual conversation is part of the TED Connects series.

A Global Pandemic Calls for Global Solutions
Examining the facts and figures of the coronavirus outbreak, epidemiologist Larry Brilliant evaluates the global response in a candid interview with head of TED Chris Anderson. Brilliant lays out a clear plan to end the pandemic -- and shows why, to achieve it, we'll have to work together across political and geographical divides. "This is not the zombie apocalypse; this is not a mass extinction event," he says. "We need to be the best version of ourselves."

Connect with EDA
When the reality of the Corona virus hit us, a few active members of EDA decided we needed to reach out to other members. Over nine weeks, Connect with EDA covered a number of topics. We discussed how each of us was coping with the new normal in our lives and what our communities were doing to support our most vulnerable. From there we talked about the value of the local economy and how economic democracy may now be emerging in our post-pandemic world.

We looked at research and talked about how you can help EDA’s Research Team by doing some preliminary legislative research. We created two documents that offer a description of what’s involved in doing research, and a form to fill out when you discover a pending Legislative Bill that may affect one of the three areas EDA is concerned with: food, water and energy. These two documents are on Loomio under EDA Active Members Discussion (see April 17). We also talked about what sets EDA apart from other organizations, and finally we learned more about EDA’s plans for advocacy training.

Connect with EDA held its final discussion on May 15. Warmest thanks to Patti Ellis, Janice Bobbie and David Cunningham for organizing these engaging events. And heartfelt thanks to all the Active Members who participated in these Friday calls, reminding us that we’re all in this together and together we can make a difference. Be safe and be well!
Connect with EDA
Fridays at 4:00 PM PDT/ 5:00 PM MDT/ 7:00 PM EDT (US and Canada)

Continuing our Friday tradition of gathering, Active Members and non-members are invited to meet for a new educational series, Principles of Local Economic Democracy. This is an eight-week series on the fundamental values involved in everyday economics and its support systems.

Each week, Roar Bjonnes and James Quilligan present a new topic, followed by group discussion. Each subject builds on the previous one, so we encourage you to attend all of them.

These weekly conversations are a great way to further your understanding of economic democracy and provide a place for you to ask questions and share ideas. Meetings are open to the public. Please feel free to invite friends and family.

You can post comments or questions on the EDA Active Members website, under ACTIVE MEMBERSHIP DISCUSSION. The Zoom call information is available there and also below:

If you’re not an EDA Active Member, please consider joining us by going to and clicking on GET INVOLVED – Membership.

EDA and EDA Foundation are asking for financial support from friends and members to help amplify our work and our messaging. Funds are needed to expand our Research, Advocacy and Education Teams. We need to develop a new website and expand our online and social media presence as we continue our outreach with new collaborative partners.

We're grateful to those of you who have already donated, and want to give our special thanks to those who have signed up for regular monthly contributions. Your generosity helps us sustain our important work.

All contributions to EDA Foundation are tax-deductible and support research, education and training programs. All contributions to EDA are non-tax-deductible and support our advocacy work with your elected officials. Thank you kindly.


Principles of Local Economic Democracy
Part 2
Copyright © 2017 Economic Democracy Advocates, All rights reserved.

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Economic Democracy Advocates · 106 Gallows Hill Road · Cranford, NJ 07016-1837 · USA

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