On this episode, Fault Lines explores some of the creative ways that local governments and communities are addressing the unemployment crisis. With almost 30 million people across the nation unemployed and Washington preferring to letting the economy follow the whims of unfettered capitalism rather than directly creating jobs, new approaches that think outside of the "Beltway-box" are becoming more popular, including "The Cleveland Model," which The Nation reported on in the February 11, 2010 issue.
Fault Lines first travels to Mississippi where federal stimulus money is being used for the STEPS program, which pays local companies to hire new workers. The Hattiesburg Paper Company recently hired two new workers through this program. Despite the area being staunchly Republican, citizens have responded positively to the government's intervention in jobs creation.
Next, Fault Lines visits Cleveland, where a cooperative model of business is becoming known as "The Cleveland Model." These are companies owned by their workers, who are also building equity in the company. City government, loans from local banks and the Cleveland Foundation are providing the capital for new cooperatives.
Jonathon Rogers, a worker in the Ohio Solar Cooperative, explains why cooperatives are appealing: "It's about ownership. It's about being able to say that I make decisions here, that I make policy." One of the leading voices of the Clevaland Model, Ted Howard, sees the model "as a way to recover the value of work and the dignity of the American worker, but also as a way to recover ourselves as active, democratic citizens." Despite the fact that worker cooperatives are not a solution to lowering such a large unemployment rate, the excitement around the model is contagious.