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On May 2nd, 2016, Dr. DeFreitas introduced the screening of the documentary “Shift Change” at the Cultural Center of Hofstra University. This documentary’s inspiration of creation was relative to Bernie Sanders’ shocking bid for Presidency; Shift Change explores around what “democratic socialism” means in the United States and Spain today. There are several public officials, entrepreneurs, and employees who have been finding new and innovative ways to work together and bring back very decent jobs as well as stability within their communities.
In Mondragon, Spain, “shared capitalism” has been in play for a long time now and continues to thrive in these current times. The cooperatives there have been emerging throughout the decades; by the 1960’s Spain already had many cooperatives. These places are managed by their workers. They have become so successful in Spain that a bunch of the cooperatives even made a premise to continue education at that’s called Mondragon University.
Many parts of the United States have also picked up on the beneficial methods of shared capitalism. Some places include San Francisco in California and Cleveland, Ohio. Another location that contains a particularly high number of cooperatives is the town of Isthmus in Madison, Wisconsin. One of the cooperatives at this part of Wisconsin is called “Isthmus Engineering and Manufacturing Coop”. This is a place where mechanical engineers get to be creative, which is something that is very important to Scott Smith as well as to many of the cooperative’s other employees. The other employees who were interviewed from here made sure to mention that they aren’t working at Isthmus Engineering and Manufacturing Coop for the money, and if the company doesn’t do very well for some time it’s their consequence exactly the same way that it’s their benefit when the company does do well. The reason for this is because they really are responsible since they make all of their decisions together. They are democratic and everyone has a vote, so all of the employees give their opinions and input.
A second cooperative that was brought into focus during this documentary is titled “Nature’s Bakery”. This place is quite large for a local bakery because it also has its own pharmacy along with its own line of cosmetics. The employees who were working at this cooperative and were interviewed for the documentary spoke about how they prefer to play a significant role in their work but also not be the owner. The democratic socialism that the employees have where they’re all equal makes them very well-suited for their positions. Linda Wilson, for example, is a pharmacist at Nature’s Bakery and has an important job of choosing the medicinal products that they provide. She explained how it shouldn’t be up to the owner to choose those kinds of products as the pharmacy part would not be something a general owner would know much about. Wilson also made the point that since she is the one handling the medicine, she prefers to have the authority to choose what she has.
One U.S. cooperative that was interviewed in Shift Change and talked about how it extends the work it does out of the United States is called “Small Farmers Big Change”. It started out in September of 2008 with Equal Exchange when they used Panamanian cacao beans to make their first chocolate bar. The way Small Farmers Big Change Works is that there is a symbiotic relationship between small farms in countries (generally in Central America) and American Cafés; the process involves the farms growing cacao beans that are then made into coffee, chocolate, etc., and are afterward distributed to the Cafés. One of the café employees who were interviewed for this documentary discussed how there are many challenges as well as meetings that the workers must be involved with when they are a part of Small Farmers Big Change, however it is certainly worth it because at the end of the day they’re making a difference.
At the end of the film, Dr. DeFreitas asked the students who attended the screening of this documentary whether or not they liked the idea of democratic socialism and shared capitalism. The comment that stood out a lot emphasized that the common worker would benefit greatly in a cooperative; however, the reasons as to why the CEOs and other powerful business figures from massive companies would not like shared capitalism and democratic socialism can be pretty understandable due to the fact that they would not make even close to the massive amount of money that they would normally earn if they worked as equals with their coworkers.
With the help of many successful cooperatives, the humbly-produced documentary “Shift Change” brings a nice light to the modest inner workings of shared capitalism. This documentary, which was relative to Bernie Sanders’ views behind democratic socialism, displays quite a few of the highly-skilled individuals who have been finding novel and creative ways to maintain stability within their jobs while working together as a team and making a difference.
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