Recently I was listening to an engrossing radio interview with the visionary economist and author, Gar Alperovitz, as he was discussing his new book, What Then Must We Do?, which highlights the rise of cooperatives, worker ownership and the restructuring of our failing economy from the bottom up. The fact that this volume shares a title with the 19th century classic by Tolstoy, gives an indication of the scope and influence of this important work.
During the interview with Matthew Rothschild, editor of The Progressive, Alperovitz explained how economically stratified our nation has become, and illustrated just how distorted the distribution of wealth now is:
“400 people currently hold more wealth in this country than the bottom 180 million people. . . I threw that out in a lecture at one point, and some, in the question and answer period — I said that’s medieval, and some medieval scholar said, no, no, it was never that concentrated in medieval times.”
Our Cooperative Future
Even though income inequality is more extreme now than it has ever been, who owns the wealth is starting to shift. Currently, over 140 million people in the United States are already involved in credit unions and cooperatives. Alperovitz explained that with the increasing rise of collectives and worker owned business, like the Evergreen greenhouse co-ops in Cleveland, there is now a rapidly expanding decentralized collective approach that is changing both business creation and ownership across our nation.