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A Global Green New Deal Is the Best Way to Save the Planet

What is urgently needed is a political platform that embraces a sound climate stabilization plan which ensures a just transition, creates a plethora of new jobs, reduces inequality, and promotes sustainable growth.
By C.J. POLYCHRONIOU
Common Dreams

Jul 30, 2023 – Another summer is upon us and heatwaves are scorching many parts of the world, smashing thousands of temperature records. Even the world’s ocean surface temperature is off the charts, reaching unprecedented levels, while sea ice level in the Antarctic has set a record low for the second year in a row.

Indeed, planet earth is screaming because “ climate change is out of control,” as U.N. General-Secretary António Guterres recently put it. Yet the global community’s response to the greatest existential threat facing humanity continues to be not merely unacceptably slow but borders on criminal negligence.

We know the reasons why. Read More

China’s Hidden Tech Revolution

How Beijing Threatens U.S. Dominance
By Dan Wang

Foreign Affairs
March/April 2023

In 2007, the year Apple first started making iPhones in China, the country was better known for cheap labor than for technological sophistication. At the time, Chinese firms were unable to produce almost any of the iPhone’s internal components, which were imported from Germany, Japan, and the United States. China’s overall contribution to the devices was limited to the labor of assembling these components at Foxconn’s factories in Shenzhen—what amounted to less than four percent of the value-added costs.

By the time the iPhone X was released, in 2018, the situation had dramatically changed. Not only were Chinese workers continuing to assemble most iPhones, but Chinese firms were producing many of the sophisticated components inside them, including acoustic parts, charging modules, and battery packs. Having mastered complex technologies, these firms could produce better products than their Asian and European competitors. With the latest generation of iPhones, this pattern has only accelerated. Today, Chinese tech firms account for more than 25 percent of the device’s value-added costs.

Although the iPhone is a special case—as one of the most intricate pieces of hardware in existence, it relies on an exceptional range of technologies—its expanding footprint in China captures a broader trend. In a majority of manufactured goods, Chinese firms have moved beyond assembling foreign-made components to producing their own cutting-edge technologies. Along with its dominance of renewable power equipment, China is now at the forefront of emerging technologies Read More

Biden’s industrial policy is missing a key ingredient: Allies

Photo: President Biden speaks at the North America’s Building Trades Unions National Legislative Conference in Washington on April 25. (Andrew Harnik/AP, File)

Top Biden administration officials insist it’s not decoupling, which would be a broad retreat from trade. We agree that would be a mistake. A better approach is to deepen trade ties with our allies and like-minded nations, a strategy that might be called maximal friend-shoring.

Interview with Mondragon CEO Josu Ugarte

By Grassroots Economic Organizing

https://geo.coop

Sky-high corporate CEO pay, the Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz notes in a new report, “creates social norms” that drive up levels of inequality far beyond corporate payrolls.

Those “social norms,” cheerleaders for our current corporate order insist, simply reflect economic reality. In a globalized world where corporations tally sales and profits in the many billions, their argument goes, no modern major business could possibly survive — let alone thrive — without shelling out top executive pay that stretches into the many millions.

The owners of one of the largest businesses in Spain would beg to disagree.

Their nearly 60-year-old enterprise — named Mondragon for the Basque town in northern Spain that gave it birth — has nearly 75,000 employees working in everything from heavy industry and retail to banking and education. A big-league business, in other words, by any metric.

Yet Mondragon doesn’t shell out millions to any of its top executives. No executive at Mondragon makes anything close to even a single million.

How could that be? Mondragon just happens to operate as a cooperative and may be, many analysts believe, the world’s most significant worker-owned business.

Josu Ugarte, the president of Mondragon International, spent a chunk of last month touring the United States, as part of the co-op’s ongoing outreach to people and groups looking for alternatives to corporate business as usual. What alternative for corporate compensation does Mondragon offer? Too Much editor Sam Pizzigati caught up with Ugarte in Washington, D.C. and explored that question with him.

Sky-high corporate CEO pay, the Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz notes in a new report, “creates social norms” that drive up levels of inequality far beyond corporate payrolls.

Those “social norms,” cheerleaders for our current corporate order insist, simply reflect economic reality. In a globalized world where corporations tally sales and profits in the many billions, their argument goes, no modern major business could possibly survive — let alone thrive — without shelling out top executive pay that stretches into the many millions.

The owners of one of the largest businesses in Spain would beg to disagree.

Their nearly 60-year-old enterprise — named Mondragon for the Basque town in northern Spain that gave it birth — has nearly 75,000 employees working in everything from heavy industry and retail to banking and education. A big-league business, in other words, by any metric.

Yet Mondragon doesn’t shell out millions to any of its top executives. No executive at Mondragon makes anything close to even a single million.

How could that be? Mondragon just happens to operate as a cooperative and may be, many analysts believe, the world’s most significant worker-owned business. Read More

 

 

 

The Trip to Mondragon: Home of the World’s Largest Co-op

Soaxbox Cincinnati

Founded in 2011, Co-op Cincy is a local, Greater Cincinnati organization whose mission is to “nurture a resilient, interconnected network of worker-owned businesses in Greater Cincinnati.” Since their incorporation, the organization has loaned more than $1 million to co-op businesses and employees. In addition, the organization has trained over 1,300 individuals about worker ownership. Currently there are a total of sixteen businesses in their cooperative network.

What has inspired their mission throughout the years is the Mondragon Corporation, an association of cooperatives that has transformed the Basque region of Spain by reducing inequality and poverty. Going strong since 1956, Mondragon’s network of cooperatives has been an engine for economic growth in Spain’s Basque region’s lowest levels of poverty providing a path for economic equality.

In 2022, in an article published by the New Yorker Magazine, the Mondragon Corporation was quoted as being “the world’s largest co-op”.

Today Mondragon Corporation employs 70,000 people in an association of eighty cooperatives, which range from a grocery chain to engineering and logistics firms. It’s the tenth largest corporation in Spain, with sales in 150 countries.

Just last month, Co-op Cincy was able to tour the association in Spain with a diverse delegation that included business, philanthropic, and faith leaders plus worker-owners from Co-op Cincy’s network of cooperatives; and representatives from Co-op Cincy’s sister organization in Dayton, Co-op Dayton.

New Steel Mill To Be Constructed In Aliquippa

By Lauren Linder
CBS News via Beaver County Blue

ALIQUIPPA, Pa. (KDKA) – A major economic boost appears to be heading to Aliquippa, as a Brooklyn company is planning to build a new steel mill in Beaver County.

The official groundbreaking is Tuesday, which will mark a special moment for the city that was originally built around steel.

Aliquippa Mayor Dwan Walker never thought he would live to see a day when the steel industry returned to the city, but it’s happening in the same spot off Woodlawn Road, where his dad spent 18 years working for J & L in the 1970s and 1980s.

“To have a comeback to where it gave birth to, it’s a beautiful thing,” Walker said. “To hear my dad almost cry about it, that says more to me than any words that I could say.”

The land remained vacant for decades since the J & L and LTV mills closed. Now a Brooklyn, New York company is coming in, 72 Steel, started by Chinese-American entrepreneurs.

New steel mill coming to Aliquippa 01:35
72 Steel Senior Business Advisor Xiaoyan Zhang said they chose Aliquippa for the $218 million facility over sites in Ohio and West Virginia. They will produce rebar at the 44-acre mill and hire 300 to 800 workers for construction, distribution, and the plant.

“We know that history, and so to build a steel mill here is exciting,” Zhang said. “Because this is an old industrial base, there will be a lot of talent, you know, that’s for hiring people and everything else.”

Property owner Chuck Betters was waiting for the right business to move in. In recent years the space was used as a staging area for the Shell cracker plant in Monaca. Then, a couple of years ago, he showed the land to 72 Steel, and eventually, they agreed.

“It’s what I’ve been hoping for,” Betters said. “I think it could be a heck of a good job creation here, a tax base for the city. I think it would be good things.”

This is the hope for Mayor Walker.

“We planted a seed that’s going to last the test of time, and then this is this going to be a caveat,” Walker said.

It’s a full-circle moment as the city heads into the future.

“This is going to be the blessing, you know, to make sure we stay out of distressed and to make sure we’re bringing economics and financial stability back to Aliquippa on a solid ground, on solid footing,” Walker said.

No word on when construction will start but 72 Steel hopes to finish by mid-to-late 2025.

Betters said he sold the rest of the 80-something-acre old mill land to Versatex, which makes products like plastic decking, and U.S. Minerals, which makes abrasives.

 

 

 

There’s a Big Pot of Climate Bill Money

It’s waiting to be seized — activists can’t miss the opportunity

By  and Daniel Hunter 

Waging Nonviolence

February 22, 2023 – The Inflation Reduction Act wasn’t written for climate justice, but there’s a ton of money for organizers and movement players to access.

Yes, the Inflation Reduction Act is the most consequential piece of climate legislation in the U.S. Yes, it’s also the only federal legislation. Yes, it’s imperfect. Yes, parts of it are downright vile. Yes, the negotiations exacerbated tensions between insider green organizations and those on the front lines.

But let’s be real, nothing more is going to pass at the federal level in the foreseeable future. So now that the IRA is the law of the land, how do organizers and movement players work with it? Read More.

From Owing to Owning: How Communities Can Control Commercial Land

By Steve Dubb
Non-Profit Quarterly

April 5, 2023 – A Black woman with a bucket hat smiling and resting on a coffee shop window counter. There is a sign below the counter that reads, “Black Businesses Matter.”

“From Owing to Owning,” reads a sign at the entrance of Plaza 122, a 29,000-square-foot strip mall near the corner of SE 122nd Avenue and SE Market Street in Portland, OR. The complex is modest, but it houses an estimated 27 primarily immigrant-led small businesses and nonprofits. What makes the strip mall unique is its community ownership. Read More.

2.1 Million Manufacturing Jobs Could Go Unfilled by 2030

By NAM News Room
May 4, 2021

The manufacturing skills gap in the U.S. could result in 2.1 million unfilled jobs by 2030, according to a new study by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, the workforce development and education partner of the NAM. The cost of those missing jobs could potentially total $1 trillion in 2030 alone.

The study’s dramatic findings come from online surveys of more than 800 U.S.-based manufacturing leaders, as well as interviews with executives across the industry and economic analyses. All told, they paint a worrying picture of manufacturing’s labor shortage. The lack of skilled labor was the industry’s major challenge even before the pandemic, according to the NAM’s quarterly outlook surveys—and this new study shows it’s still a major concern today.

The hard data: About 1.4 million U.S. manufacturing jobs were lost during the early days of the pandemic, according to the study, setting back the manufacturing labor force by more than a decade. However, the industry has largely recovered those lost jobs and is now urgently seeking more workers.

While the manufacturing industry recouped 63% of jobs lost during the pandemic, the remaining 570,000 had not been added back by the end of 2020, despite a near record number of job openings in the sector.
The inside scoop: Manufacturers surveyed reported that finding the right talent is now 36% harder than it was in 2018, even though the unemployment rate has nearly doubled the supply of available workers. Read More

Industrial Policy Can’t Ignore Geography

Industrial policy was once so out of fashion that it was jokingly called “the policy that shall not be named.”
Now it’s back in a big way. On issues ranging from clean energy to semiconductors to Covid-19, governments are trying to improve the performance of key business sectors. Can they manage to do so without subverting competition and subsidizing special interests?

This article is part of ProMarket‘s series on industrial policy. Stay tuned as we publish an article each week this quarter on the topic.


By now, it’s clear that “Bidenomics” centers heavily on what the White House calls a “modern American industrial strategy.” What’s less recognized, however, is another feature of the new economic push: Its strong geographic orientation.

Most broadly, the big spending bills of the last Congress—the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP), the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) — embody a national pivot.

The U.S. has recommitted to a broad public investment agenda, after decades of vacillation between “laissez-faire” economics at some times, and redistributive efforts at others. The goal: Raise the productive capacity of the U.S. economy and at the same time promote greater inclusion, a higher standard of living, and reduced carbon emissions.

And yet, there is more to the new line of action.  Specifically, key elements of the new approach are strongly place-based.

That is, these elements propose to achieve broader national goals through deliberate and direct investments into specific U.S. places and regions. In this vein, the Brookings Institution counts some 19 explicitly place-based industrial policy programs, adding up to some $80 billion of authorized spending, distributed across three of the four pieces of legislation (ARP, IIJA, and CHIPS and Science). Billions more in cleantech subsidies and awards from the IRA for green growth—while not explicitly place-targeted–will also benefit the nation as a whole by benefiting particular places such as the emerging “battery belt.”

Which is why the new “place-based industrial strategy” merits serious consideration as a compelling approach to economic development—especially for a nation with deep regional divides and large pools of underutilized talent and capacity.  Broad national programs, or universal stances like laissez-faire, have their value, but they often lack the focus to confront entrenched local market failures. Place-based strategies, however, may be able to engage more directly and efficiently with the roots of problems and the needs of individuals and firms in local communities. In that fashion, the new policies seek to boost the national economy by investing to help local economies, whether by supporting regional innovation clusters or financing creative workforce partnerships. In sum, “place-based” industrial strategies very much merit the attention they are beginning to receive. Read More