A cooperative is a business, not some kind of Communist egalitarian invention. Co-ops range in size from small store-fronts to large Fortune 500 companies. In many ways, they're like any other business; but in several important ways they're unique and different.
The cooperative movement is on the rise, but Government support is essential for the cooperative movement’s progress. In Italy, for example, the movement is enshrined under Article 45 of the 1947 Italian Constitution and the Basevi Law of 1947, which, “provided co-ops with special tax treatment to encourage their self-capitalization and by creating the concept of ‘indivisible reserves’ for the benefit of all (i.e., future generations of employees and the community).”
Unfortunately still the most difficult barrier of all for the cooperative movement to be accepted is the widely publicized myth that corporate or individual-focused capitalism is the only feasible business method out there.
Today cooperatives are one of the most important and alternate solutions to the abusive and out-of-touch corporate pyramid system that places a few at the top and the majority at the very bottom.
Fortunately the signs and sounds that people want a different and more fair economic system are becoming louder every day around the world.
Yes indeed, change is in the air when it comes to a new and fair way of doing business – even in the United States, the powerhouse of traditional capitalism.
One of the many reasons why co-ops are becoming more and more popular is also because today people spend so much more of their lives, energy and focus as uninvolved workers, rather than as active and participating shareholders.
When you join a co-operative, the main attraction is its democratic participative nature. What this means is that the people that work in a business or factory, set-up as a cooperative, also own it and are motivated not by profit, but by service-to meet their members’ needs and to provide affordable and high quality goods or services; elect their own board of directors from within the membership, who take the decisions; share the profits and obviously also the losses; pay taxes on income kept within the co-op for investment and reserves. Surplus revenues from the co-op are returned to individual members who pay taxes on that income.
Cooperatives can also also be highly effective and profitable in providing rural services and needs, such as: electricity, telecommunications, credit and financial services, housing, food, hardware and building supplies.
It certainly is an idea whose time has come.