How is the Remote Workers Movement Transforming the Future of Work?
Conceptualizing how we move from a trickle-down economy to a middle-out economy
Special News Since I last posted, high winds have caused the sea to rise and take out the shoreline road at Ocean Point, throwing large boulders about and ripping up the pavement. In other areas around the Peninsula, wharves and boathouses are floating around in the ocean. You can see some pictures in The Boothbay Register. On Facebook look for a video by Peter Panagore that follows the shoreline road. All the while this was happening, just a few miles away, the weather was very mild, and I thought: ”What storm?” except that when I woke up In the morning I heard the sound of high winds but when I looked out the window, I didn’t see the wind. I hear that sound again as I am writing. It must be the sound of the wind churning up the ocean, off in the distance.
And now, Thoughts about the political impact of ownership:
The first paper I ever reviewed for Humanities and Social Sciences Communications was a paper on Marxism. My first introduction to Marx was The Communist Manifesto, in which it was proposed that the abuses of capitalism would so unify the proletariat that they would revolt and bring about a classless society.
The oligarchy heeded Marx’s words and created a hedge against popular rebellion that would also allow the overlords to embed a greater degree of control over the individual with the proverbial Trojan Horse-bearing gifts. Today the Maine public-private system plans against the possibility of a unified movement of the masses by distributing wealth to the proletariat, those whose income is below the median, but only in the form of basic living subsidies, while exclusively redistributing wealth as capital investments in private business to the top of the economy. This is not the American economic system of free enterprise. This policy serves to make the rich richer and ensure that the proletariat never rises higher.
It was not capitalism that the proletariat rebelled against. It was capitalism in the hands of the few, which in contemporary terms, is called the wealth divide which has become the ownership class-working class divide during the years that the Maine Legislature has been centrally managing the economy.
The excluded free enterprise economy
The Communist Manifesto contains a screed against the small business owner, portraying the small business entrepreneur as having incontestable intentions to become big business owners and so is of a singular class that conflates small business owners and large corporate conglomerates, erasing any distinctions. The idea that small entrepreneurs could prefer to remain small was as inconceivable to Marx and Engles as it is in contemporary bias perpetuated by the overlords of the public-private state, a partnership of state for-profit corporations, public and private non-profit corporations, and large publicly traded corporations, all share in a large conglomerate of concentrated wealth that the State redistributes.
Marx and Engles portrayed small entrepreneurs so offensively that I didn’t go deeper into Marx. However one can’t avoid Marx. He remains a pervasive cultural influence and so through second-hand reports, I credit Marx with articulating valuable observations about society.
The paper I reviewed reported that Marx defined the outsider as one who must change society to become a part of it. In his conflation of the small entrepreneur with the large conglomerates, Marx, by omission, identified the small entrepreneur as the outsider whose independent identity even Marx would not acknowledge as existing, thus the small free enterprise entrepreneur is the outsider who has to change the system, to become a part of it, and by becoming a part of it changes the system, not into a classless society but into a laterally organized society versus a top-down oligarchy. Although communism is called a “dictatorship of the proletariat” that means, in Madisonian terms, “a tyranny of the majority”, or another top-down order that oppresses the individual
I am a natural-born free enterprise entrepreneur. I was a child when my parents were struggling financially to get Andersen Design started and so I took in through the environment that the motivating factor for the enterprise was the work process. In its purest form, the working classes are people who live to work, rather than work to live. To be able to pursue the work process to the fullest, one must have the individual freedom to do so. Bureaucrats empowered by central management are far removed from the work process of any enterprise and should not be the ones making controlling decisions. That is a reason why small is better. The larger an enterprise, the more layers of bureaucracy there are. Suppose you are involved in solving a problem in a large hierarchy. In that case, there will likely be many people around trying to prohibit you from following the creative process wherever it is taking you due to all varieties of hidden agendas.
My parents were working business owners, or to put it in Marxian terms, they were workers who owned the means of production, but they also employed others, so in Marxian terms, the business was a hybrid.
Marx identifies the US economic system as “capitalism”, and communism as something other. But what is capitalism?
Peeling back the label, “capitalism” is another way of saying “the means to production”, that is what capital capitalizes. The means of production includes everything needed to produce something such as financial capital, talent, labor, facilities and equipment, and sweat equity. In that mix, each form of capital capitalizes the other. One cannot bring one’s talents, innovations, and creativity into manifestation without financial capital, nor can financial capital bring anything into manifestation without talents, innovators, and creators.
A secret revolutionary
The latter form of capital is represented by the new term “psycap”. Those who follow this newsletter will know that I have been reviewing a paper for HSSC for many months and was instrumental in changing the language used in the paper from “psychological ownership” to “psycap”, which I felt to be a subtle achievement in differentiating political dynamics through language, in a paper originating in a communist country. I was surprised. I did not suggest using the term psycap. I had never heard of it. I do not believe the author understood the philosophical difference between psychological ownership and psycap. I said only that the term “psychological ownership” was obstructive, and so it came about that the language was changed impactfully, without the author being aware of the significance of that change, in my opinion.
Marx used the term “capitalism” to identify the American economic system, obscuring the identity of the free enterprise system that is naturally emergent from the American constitutional philosophy that protects the right to private property. Communism (state capitalism) is just as capitalistic as free enterprise (private capitalism) but the difference lies in who has the right to own property. In Maine and other states, state capitalism and private capitalism concentrate capital through public-private relationships. The point is about money without consideration of the political philosophy at work, or at least not spoken out loud.
Psychological ownership embodies an illusion, if illusions can be said to have bodies, but such a contradiction makes a point about the nature of the illusion. Psychological ownership is when the worker identifies with owning the enterprise that the worker does not own. The ownership class seeks to imbue the workers with a psychological ownership identification with the enterprise which will free the workers to use their innovative talents to create new products to be owned by the enterprise and its shareholders.
The term “psycap” shifts ownership identification from the enterprise to the worker’s talents and skills as a recognized form of capital. The enterprise owns the facilities, the worker owns his abilities. In an employee-employer relationship, the products created by the employee applying his talents are owned by the employer. This is not unfair as the worker is being paid but the worker must make a choice about how much of his psycap he or she will invest in return for a wage. As the living wage has decreased in the purchasing power that opens access to ownership, the workforce has started to withhold psycap, as exemplified in a shocking new movement in which workers limit their working hours to those that they are paid to work.
If you’re under the age of 45, you may have no idea that overtime pay is even a thing. But believe it or not, middle-class workers used to get a lot of it, while you likely don’t get any at all. That means that every hour you work over 40 hours a week you work for free, contributing to a giant pool of free labor that modern employers have come to expect and exploit. Profits are up, real wages are down, and income inequality has soared to its highest level since the Gilded Age Time America Gave Up on Overtime—and It’s Costing Workers $35,451 a Year
For those who may not know, overtime pay was time and a half for hours worked over the forty-hour work week. The “higher than average pay” is yet another illusion, when the worker is expected to work long hours beyond what they are paid to work, but that has become commonplace in corporate culture. If the creator owns his own business, he does not get that guaranteed wage but all of his work hours are his capital investment in his own enterprise.
The term “psycap” reinforces that talents and skills are the worker’s capital. In an era when patent ownership is as coveted as land ownership, the workers need to be as aware of the value of their capital as they are aware of the exchange value of their working hours. One way to protect the value of workers’ capital is by the workers privately owning the means of production (thus my fiscally-sponsored project for production is based in independently owned small studios). Another way of protecting workers’ capital is to work from home, where the worker has greater control over the work process.
But the State of Maine’s housing solution, as exemplified by plans being implemented on the Boothbay Peninsula, is to squeeze the workforce into units so small that there is no space to work at home, then transform the public educational system into workspaces for workforce training for the state’s private partners. If there is no space to work in a cramped housing unit, where else can a creative person find space to work but in a publicly owned facility? This may sound coldly calculated but it is the business of architectural design to understand the needs of a living environment, so there is reason to speculate that the elimination of any personal space suitable for creative activity is by design, and the large publicly owned spaces where work can be done is also by design. It is consistent with what community designers think about. Consider the zoning called “artist in residence”. It recognizes the need for creative workspace and is the zoning that transformed Soho in the late sixties from a New York neighborhood of old warehouses into a hip neighborhood in the 1980s that had more art galleries per square foot than anywhere else in the world.
If a corporation wants a monopoly on ownership, the two most important things to own are land and patents. Blackstone, the most notoriously ruthless private equity firm that buys up single-family homes, is funding University of Maine’s innovation program. With Blackstone funding Maine’s innovation classes, one has to wonder if Blackstone will also be an investment partner in the concentrated housing zones that the Maine Legislature codified for development and tailored the subsidies for mass housing developers. How convenient it is to control the working and living spaces with one hand and to have the other hand in innovative programs that can lead to patent ownership?
AFFORDABLE HOUSING FINANCE Posted on: February 24, 2022
Blackstone Real Estate Launches Affordable Housing Company
Blackstone is the company that wants to own everything so it is the perfect partner for the public-private state that aims to control everything.
Perspectives on public goods and property rights are a fundamental part of communist theory and philosophy. Much of the core tenets of modern communism stem from their ideas on public property and the definition of ownership in society. Communist philosophy argues against private property and supports collective ownership. This philosophy applies specifically to intellectual property and software. The common view is that no person should on their own or control any property, whether electronic, merely an idea, or otherwise. Stanford UNiversity Public Goods and Intellectual Property Rights
I learned about Maines Blackstone-funded innovation program when I sought board members for the conceptual Museum of American Designer Craftsmen. A woman posing as being interested in the museum quickly transitioned into advising me to sell Andersen Design’s assets to an agent she recommended. I thought she probably would receive a commission if I took her uninvited advice, given disrespectfully. She also advised me to contact a woman teaching at the University of Maine’s Blackstone-funded innovation program, and I was horrified.
Consistent with all its other policies designed to penalize the proletariat if they are caught engaging in free enterprise, the Maine Legislature is ensuring that intellectual property ownership will be kept out of the hands of the proles.
Teach a class on innovation and milk it for all its worth!
Under the title of The Center for Law and Innovation, the University of Maine has established its rights to ownership of intellectual property, based, communist-style, on its ownership of publicly funded facilities and applicable to all projects making use of the facilities. Additionally, In 1999, §1921. Maine Patent Program was enacted as an educational program on patenting. In what one might take to be a course on patenting, the University of Maine charges “a reasonable percentage of the royalties for any successful innovation patented through the program for services provided in registering a patent.” There are 5,393 patents listed for the University of Maine on Lens.org and 4,500 patents listed for the Foster Center for Innovation where innovation classes are taught at the University of Maine, where the woman posing to be interested in the museum advised that I should connect. Since The Foster Center for Innovation is part of the University of Maine, the Statement of Policy Governing Patents and Copyrights, University of Maine System applies.
Works of Non-Employees. Under copyright law, Copyrightable Works of non-employees such as consultants, independent contractors, etc. generally are owned by the creator and not by the University, unless there is a written agreement to the contrary. As it is the University's policy that it shall retain ownership of such Copyrightable Works, the University will generally require a written agreement from non-employees that ownership of such Copyrightable Works will be assigned to the University. Examples of Copyrightable Works which the University may retain non-employees to prepare include: reports by consultants or subcontractors; computer software; architectural or engineering drawings; illustrations or designs; artistic works; and websites. Statement of Policy Governing Patents and Copyrights.pdf
Incrementally, under the system of central management, the workers have lost overtime pay and creator rights to ownership of intellectual property.
The best protection against intellectual property rights vultures is for creators to own the creative facilities, or to work in exterior facilities with terms that clearly assign intellectual property rights to authors.
When will the centrally managed economy assess its own policies?
State policy of trading subsidies for “jobs that pay higher than average wages and benefits” targets raising the income level, but a chart published in the latest Maine state economy report comparing average income by state shows that the Maine state average income compared to other states has progressively declined since 1997:
There is no comparison to be made with what was happening in the years previous to the centralized economy.
The Beldon Hulls Daniels Report written in or about 1980, paints this picture of the decade from 1970 -1980
Real per capita income in the state increased by almost a quarter during the 1970s. This rate was commensurate with that of the nation as a whole and somewhat exceeded the average for the New England region. While the increase in living standards for Maine residents kept pace with the rest of the nation, the state's absolute position remained substantially below that of the nation as a whole. BHD report pg 18
If the state is negotiating subsidies for “jobs that pay higher than average for the area” and the wage in the area is lower than the comparison states that are all using the same method to attract jobs, then compared to other states the average income would remain low, but it does not explain why the comparison with other states decreases.
Whatever the reason for the decrease in Maine’s average income as compared to other states, the chart shows that Maine has progressively decreased in comparison to other states during the time since a centrally managed economy was established. Perhaps it Is time to consider offering something to the populous as opposed to negotiating with corporations.
New Hampshire goes against the herd and does much better than Maine,
New Hampshire average income $62,550 Average Hourly Wage $30.07
Maine average income$55,960 Average Hourly Wage $26.90 source
In the present, the remote worker movement and gig economy are a 21st-century unified workers movement in rebellion against corporate ownership of everything, including corporate ownership of the means of production, intellectual property rights, housing, and our public educational systems. The state of Maine, in its public messaging of its designs for housing and economic development, does not acknowledge the remote worker movement. However, the state, as it negotiates with subsidies used to capitalize corporate headquarters, must be aware that the remote worker movement is disrupting the commercial real estate market. That is “ the quiet part that they do not speak out loud”.
The anti-corporate movement doesn’t want to be the instrument of a corporation or the government. They want to own themselves and their psycap.
To acknowledge the existence of something is to give it power. The worker’s ownership movement must empower itself by effectively organizing around a targeted cause.
Innovate the priority zone!
In Maine, the most significant cause to organize around is taking ownership of priority zones mandated by the recently enacted HP1489 and designing priority zones as free enterprise intentional communities. It requires inclusive zoning ordinances, architects designing spaces for the work at home and small entrepreneurial needs, and, since the priority zones are written by and for developers, it requires a unique breed of developers who design individualized housing and communities rather than the ubiquitous projects of uniform units for unindividualized living being advanced by the state and its private partners. If such a development company does not exist, individualized developers could consider banding together for such a purpose. The state is right, that as long as short-term rentals go unregulated, every other purpose or culture has to carve out a zone, where anything else can exist, amid Maine, the vacationland for transient inhabitants.
Having been involved in the operations of a business in a home for many years, I am well aware of what it means to live in a non-inclusive society that in its consideration of community planning does not factor in the culture with which one identifies. If there are no alternative priority zones developed at this juncture, dystopia is the only option for the future. We owe it to the future to make sure there are options available.
To have fair representation, the remote worker movement, the gig workers, businesses in a home, and small entrepreneurs that make up the free enterprise sector have to unify in defense of their own needs if they are to have a voice in formulating the future of work and of housing and home and land ownership.
As many large corporate headquarters are falling into bankruptcy because the workforce is operating from their homes, the remote worker movement needs real estate designed for its needs but that need is not reflected in the state of Maine’s massive plans to build concentrated housing zones across the state for affordable housing for “the workforce”, by which the state means essential workers and the workforce employed by major corporations.
Articles that I read about remote workers are usually framed as workers who must be properly managed by corporations that must maintain the all-important corporate culture. I think it is more realistic that the remote workers will branch off into distinct cultures. Some will want to be employees and to identify with corporate culture. Others will want to explore other options. Options make the difference between centralization and decentralization.
One of the talking points that corporate headquarters makes in favor of back-to-office working is the importance of corporate culture. Indeed one of the greatest drawbacks for some homeworkers is the lack of a face-to-face relationship with a collaborative community, but this need can be satisfied in other ways. One way is by creating an intentional community (priority zone) around a work-at-home culture. The priority zone becomes the community culture, a decentralized alternative to corporate culture
By designing spaces for working at home, individualized to accommodate different capacities of home-business needs, it is possible to make owning a home more affordable to working people, combining it with ownership of the means of production. Fiscal sponsorship can be used to grant access to debt-free funding, with the possibility of the priority zone acting as a fiscal sponsor in some capacity.
Promoting the cause is necessary to overcome the group-think that opposes the status quo.
That’s what I am doing, so please consider becoming a paid subscriber or a free subscriber.
Call to arms! Let us unite! The hierarchy is coming!