Co-Operatives: Even More Merits for Men

by Davd on October 7, 2011

 

 

Co-Operative Ownership
has merits for men especially. Let’s make use of them.
By Davd,
October 2011.

 

One important way the Law is used against men (especially via “divorce theft”) is through its emphasis on private, individual property. Marry or cohabit, and your individual property is no longer all-yours. If Sam owns a house, and he marries Eleanor and moves her into it, she can divorce him and get half its value. The same thing has happened to many readers of this site. Depending on what “jurisdiction” you live in, various other “individual private property” becomes subject to confiscation.

Furthermore, the Tax Collectors are set up for individual private property, and you can expect to pay a lot of tax as Governments start trying to end their deficits and bring down their debts. Property taxes, sales taxes, income tax… these you know. Plus, you’re mortal—when you die, the property you owned individually has to go to other owners. In the transferring process, a lot of its value will go for lawyer’s fees, paperwork fees, probate fees, and—more taxes. It isn’t only divorce lawyers and the less-honourable of women, who exploit private ownership!

There are other ways to “hold property”, and if you’re a Christian, Jew or Muslim, your Holy Scriptures tell you that private, individual property is not the best way! If conventional capitalism seems to specify individual property, and “State socialism” seems to specify only government property, and monarchism seems to say that ultimately, the Crown owns everything and other ownership exists only subject to the Crown’s tolerance and can be revoked at any time—these three do not exhaust the possibilities. It is perfectly possible for a group to own land and for that matter, just about anything else. What’s more, the Holy Book that is revered by Christianity, Islam, and Judaism prefers group ownership!

If you read Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy [especially the latter two] in the English language Bibles, carefully, you’ll see that Moses, “God”, and the priests, in some combination, framed not a private-individual-property system, nor socialism, nor monarchist “Crown property”, but a lineage-property system. Land especially belonged not to individuals, nor to the State, nor to a King or noble, but to lineages. (The parts that refer to the “Jubilee” are particularly informative about this.)

In these man-unfriendly times, with man-unfriendly legal systems (and especially, misandric “family law” that seems to work more against families than for them), lineage ownership may not be a prudent path to follow. (I like the idea that interested people might design a lineage ownership system for families, but significant changes would be needed to the misandric aspects of present law, before we can be confident one could work.) Meanwhile, there is a form of incorporation that need not be for profit, that has been used many times to bring together small groups of people who want to share work and its rewards, that works for friends as well as families, and that is democratic: The co-operative.

The co-operatives most of us know best are large, wide-open as to membership, and don’t look much like a model for teaming up to work together in numbers small enough that everyone knows everyone else well. Consumer co-operatives and credit unions [co-operative banks] are the most visible “co-ops”; while the models, the patterns of organizing, that i like even more, are:

  • the worker co-op,
    the team of three to fifty working people who incorporate as equals
    and govern their business as equals; and

  • the housing co-op,
    which can range in size from fewer than ten people to a few
    hundred.1

These two, well-known, time-tested forms of co-operative are for sharing work and for sharing property. The consumer co-operative and the Credit Union [Caisse-Populaire in Canada's other official language] are for customer-owned shopping and finance. Large numbers have more positive value, and do less harm, in shopping and pooled finance, than in living and working together.

For living and working together, everyone should know everyone else well. Then people can interact based on who each-other really are, knowing, respecting, and allowing-for one another’s quirks. If Ed loves to get up early and go fishing, while Phil tends to stay up late and get up shortly before Ed returns with his catch, it makes good sense for Phil to light the woodstove, make tea and coffee, the porridge or fried potatoes, and have a pan ready for Ed to supply the meat at breakfast. Ed benefits, Phil benefits—from knowing and co-ordinating their quirks. Living and working together calls for co-operatives of say, 150 or fewer members, so that personal knowledge can be used for everyone’s good.

Back to “Sam and Eleanor”: If Sam is a member of a co-operative that owns a row of houses, and he marries Eleanor and moves her into one of them, she can still divorce him—but she’s not divorcing the co-operative, and the house belongs to the co-operative, not to Sam. As the occupant who was there first, he will normally be the one who stays in a “one of us is leaving” situation. (If not, he can expect to get housing from the co-operative, somewhere else.) As an individual owner, Sam loses tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars; as a co-op member, he loses nothing, or at most he “loses” the cost of moving.

Suppose that instead of marrying Eleanor, Sam marries Frieda2, a loyal and co-operative woman who lives fifty happy years with him and then dies a few months before Sam does. They have four children, and one of those has children of his own, and wants to move into the house where he grew up, so his children can enjoy it as he did. If that house was individual private property, there will be lawyer’s fees, paperwork fees, probate fees, capital gains taxes, maybe inheritance taxes to pay, before Junior can succeed Sam. (If Junior can afford all those costs.) If the house is co-operatively owned, and Sam’s and Frieda’s share passes to Junior, or Junior already has a membership—the official share value is likely to be $1000. or less, and on Sam’s death it either “retires from existence” or passes to Junior. The fees and hassle will be minimal—because the co-operative embodies group ownership, and Junior is Sam’s successor in the group.

Such is the good side of co-operative organization. There does not need to be a bad side—if you choose your fellow members wisely3 (Not all men are competent to be contributing co-op members. Since beginning to discuss this subject with friends, i have been warned about alcoholics, illegal-drug-addicts, sex addicts, thieves, and implicitly, about bottom-decile men who simply aren’t able enough to do their share of the work. If you already know the other men looking to be in a start-up, well, you’ll probably know if such problems exist. Among men who’ve met recently, there needs to be a check-out process—as any monastery will also tell you.)

Actions speak louder than words. The obvious actions to take, are the start-up of hundreds of men’s co-operatives: Housing, working, even sharing vehicles. I’m willing to put “a few tens of thousands” of my savings into starting housing, enterprise, and car-share co-operatives near where i live, and i have started working on another post about specifics and details. This one is rather long already.

Just one “teaser estimate”, for now: A home (shared by 3-5 men) with no mortgage and low property taxes, for a paid-up cost to each of $5000—$10,000.


Notes:

1the “car-share” co-op, which owns two or more motor vehicles, maintains and insures them, and organizes their use by a membership that is 2-10 times as many people as there are vehicles, is more similar to a housing co-op than to a worker co-op—and it has a much shorter history than housing and worker co-ops.

2I’m not trying to pick-on any former acquaintance named Eleanor. Frieda was my grandmother, and i intentionally honour her.

3Did i hear someone say there does not need to be a bad side to marriage, if you choose your wife wisely? In the abstract, that’s so. But there are more temptations to mistreat a husband written into the statutory, regulatory, and case “family” law, than to mistreat several fellow members, in co-operative law and practices. Men are naturally more co-operative. And it is easier to mistreat one person than to mistreat several: They just might team up and “give you what-for.”

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