While the US Social Forum was happening June 22–26 in Detroit, the media ignored it, for the most part (as did this blog). Now the New York Times’s Business section has recognized its existence. Nancy Folbre, the author of the article, compares the Social Forum to the February convention of the Tea Party, which drew 600 participants to the US Social Forum’s 15,000. Not to mention a lot more press.

Both she, and I, wondered why. She thought that Tea Party members packed more economic clout. (Source: “Is Another Economics Possible?” by Nancy Folbre, New York Times, July 19, 2010)

But I think that the right has more cachet these days than the left. Maybe it’s always been that way. Certainly, many lefties who were too far out for the establishment have ended up with FBI files. I wonder how many right-wingers suffer the same kinds of surveillance. It would be interesting to do a comparison, but I don’t think that information would be available for contemporary lefties and righties.

I wanted to go to the US Social Forum, but to be honest I didn’t make much effort. I didn’t really want to go by myself, and I don’t know a whole lot of lefties these days who have time to take a week off to go to a convention. Next time, I told myself. In another 3 years.

And what did the people at the US Social Forum want? More jobs. A more cooperative form of economics, which is not the same as top-down command communism. In other words, they want more worker-owned companies, more worker cooperatives, a more egalitarian workplace.

Sounds good to me.

Right now the United States has an economy that treats a few very well and perhaps half the population well enough. The rest are struggling, and those at the bottom are barely getting by. I wish all the people in favor of self-sufficiency could be forced to live like the working poor and try to survive on their incomes. I think it would be a rude awakening for them.

I would like to see cooperative workplace arrangements make up a larger segment of the economy. Notice I did not say “the entire economy.” I think a diversity of business types, like diversity in other areas, fosters innovation and competition.

I would also like to see smaller corporations. The merger trend has been going on since the 1970s. I want to see it reversed. I want companies to break up, become more local, and become less “efficient.” Because “efficiency” is just a euphemism for cutting jobs.

What kind of economy would you like to see?

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