Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Nader's state-free idea for revitalizing New Orleans

Ralph Nader has proposed that New Orleans provides an opportunity for cooperatives to step in and help revitalize the city in a grassroots way that counters the state driven corporatization that is going on. Click here to read the whole thing.

He first criticizes the corporate statist response:
The corporate looting of New Orleans is underway. The charges of corruption, political favoritism and poor delivery of services by corporate contractors for government projects are already being leveled by the media and some alert officials. After all, over $100 billion of taxpayer monies will be flowing to New Orleans and the Gulf area communities in the next several months.

Plans for the new New Orleans by the large corporate developers are not including many poor or low income families in their plans. These developers see a smaller ritzier New Orleans with gentrified neighborhoods and acres of entertainment, gambling and tourist industries. In a phrase, the corporatization of New Orleans' renewal.

He then envisions an alternative:
New Orleans provides possibly the finest opportunity in many years for the cooperative movement to make itself known and to save New Orleans from being looted by corporate predators of various stripes who are presently designing the new New Orleans. Cooperatives demand grass roots organization and customer responsibility or they cannot exist. Cooperators, as customers are called, started these cooperatives in the early days-both consumer and producer cooperatives-throughout farm country USA.

Cooperative principles and member participation have been undermined by the hectic pace of a commuting workforce in a corporate economy that requires two breadwinners or more per family to have a chance at a middle class standard of living. Cooperatives provide many tangible and intangible community values but they need the time of their members to truly flower.

New Orleans and other Hurricane-stricken communities can give new life to the cooperative movement, and it can give new life to the shattered lives of these residents as they try to rebuild their livelihoods.

Since what he's proposing here consists of voluntary, grassroots efforts to create a coopertative alternative to the corporate state looting, it seems as if his proposal is one that free market types can support as opposed to all the statist "solutions" being talked about and implemented.

Yes, I know that he refers to "labor, environmental and other normal legal safeguards for the people" as if they are a good thing, but we all know that he's not a libertarian. Despite that, his vision for cooperatives in New Orleans as an alternative to statist measures is libertarian.

*UPDATE: Kevin Carson has addressed this Nader article over at the Uncapitalist Journal's blog. I apparently missed where Nader called for federal reconstruction aid to be channeled to cooperative alternatives. As with Carson, I don't support the use of federal aid, even though it would be slightly less noxious if channeled to decentralized cooperative institutions instead of the usual corporate suspects.


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