corporatization of everything

I have decided not to publish this essay any place except on my blog, and to use a redacted/censored version, sort of like what the government does to take out any references to specific people or classified information.  I am going to try to take out all specific names and places and organizations.   I expect it to be absurd, that whole paragraphs will consist of vague references to vagueness.  But as I have decided that I do not want it found by google accumulators, and I wish to protect folks and their projects from being collateral damage, I will offer this spoof of my essay for the few who get the rss of the website.  I expect no one else will see this, and you are invited to skip or read a very strange phenomena.  For those very close to these events, who can guess the names, be forewarned you may not appreciate my viewpoint. But I feel much better for have written it, and the general points are more important than the specifics. greg
Corporatizing the non profit universe.
 I am on a bit of a quixotic journey fighting the over corporatization of the non profit world.  At the organizations  I am associated with I am pretty much the only active resister to the corporate order and started writing about it as what I was struggling against became clearer.  Recently I saw a few short essays that reminded me that I am not alone in this struggle, that others have also struggled with this, and it lengthened my perspective. It still might be quixotic, but it still needs to be written down and transmitted.
My experience in the non profit universe is of long standing, at least ewsloaioq years, with many years of environmental and anti war activism outside the c3 universe prior to that.  I became active on environmental issues after reading about endangered species in 1967 and organized my HS for the first earth day. These days I work part time for a small environmental organization, actively run, as a volunteer, the very small non profit watershed group that i founded in my neighborhood, and serve on the boards of eamnjkajmnol (snaejr local and ajswp national)l environmental/green justice non profits.  In between I homesteaded and was the sole proprietor of a carpentry business in rural xdfe.   That allowed me to spend my winters reading, and I spent several winters studying organizations and how they are structured and operate. My schooling was in anthropology and evolutionary biology so study of organizational structure and management strikes a chord. In addition to for profit and non profit experience I helped found the Green Party, and have run for office several times and worked on campaigns.  Some time these days is devoted to a think tank/consulting business that primarily focuses on the ecology /economy interface.  In other words I try to bring what I have learned about ecology, evolution, human behavior, and organizations to the work of helping my community be more prosperous while shrinking its ecological footprint.  Developing the local compost industry is a current project, a project for which I was awarded an EPA merit award this year.
This essay is my thoughts on the year long administrative, computer, and accounting software upgrade (if you could call it that) i have been enduring at my part time job as administrative assistant (and only employee) for the kllldemnstyoagti.  Mixed into the hardware and software travails at the office, I had very similar computer troubles at home, which gave me a greater perspective because i got to experience it with both a mac and a pc.
This essay evolves as something of a rant on the corporatization of the non profit universe because the eiodehjnoajut, using the same model that is found all over the foundation universe, has taken it upon itself to standardize non profit behavior and operations in dfjodehjfir so non profits can be “fundable” and the organization I work for got one of those grants.  A little bite the hand that feeds in the hope that it will help me, theewkefiua, and the ewklfhswy9, and maybe the readers think more clearly about this endeavor.
The corporatization trend has been going on for years.  Eric Taug, writing in Left Turn in November 2005 in an article titled

“The Non-Profit & The Autonomous Grassroots” gives some of the history of the tension between trying to stop the militarist capitalist earth plundering order in a serious way and the funded incrementalism that the US government and the 1% (not the terms he used since in 2005,though it is the same people) encourage via the tax codes and the 501c3 system to diffuse tension and offer a bit of hope while they continue to hold power and eat the planet.  


Reminds me of the words of Dom Helder Camara “When i feed the hungry, they call me a saint, when i ask why the poor have no food they call me a communist. ”  The c3 world wants saints, not revolutionaries. 

Adding to what Taug knew in 2005, we know the funneling of advocacy and activism into the c3 model also allows the government to watch activism more carefully.   It provides another tool for study (their financial records) while providing a backdoor for repression by making the smallest and most activist groups conform to corporate rules that the for profits, who’s criminality forced the government to tighten rules, just lawyer up and avoid until they can buy another congressman.  The failure of Enron and the giant banks have resulted in more oppressive rules for non profits and the falleoaio jumped on in.  Fat chance we have of overcoming that insanity in the post Citizens United plutocracy we now find ourselves in.  But resistance is still a good thing.

After the government changed the rules to oppress everyone other than those who caused the problems, Wall St and the 1%, with their financial shenanigans, the complete financialization of the economy, and the accounting firms that aided and abetted the looting,  the eal’gajo got caught up in the buzz words transparency and accountability.   aqle4iaji supported the game, as it diverted attention from the real issues and key funders.  Now the alpoer4iawj fund consultants to tell small organizations to jump through the hoops that were only created because of the criminality of the 1% that the aqwoper4ie4j choose to ignore.

Our Quickbooks upgrade is a perfect example of that.  While they claim to have a non profit version it says nothing about donors, or any of the other ways non profits actually operate, it only categorizes financial relationships with vendors and customers. The new version also would not work on our old old computer and the data from the old version was not transferable to the new.  Quickbooks  pushes upgrades instead of encouraging conservation.

Microsoft office would not transfer either, it would not compute on the new computer. So we had to buy more crappy software that quickly becomes obsolete.   Planned obsolescence should not be a part of the workings of an environmental group seeking to limit its ecological impact.  It is the 1% trying to enforce the corporate mentality in inappropriate places, and then using the aqprio as a way to funnel money back to themselves. Seems like the perfect system to reduce the amount of really hard questions being asked by non profits as they get caught up in the money go round.

Maybe this is quixotic, the revolution will not be funded except from our pockets.  To expect the foundations to really support innovation and challenges to the established earth eating order is unrealistic. After all they are simply a tool of the 1%, abusing the tax laws to assuage their guilt while keeping them in power.  I remember they used to say “the revolution will not be televised”, but the Arab Spring was.  Even the biggest media networks rely on grassroots media, though the police act according to what the corporate paymasters demand and seem to think the independent and accidental media should be beaten to prevent the truth from getting out.  Of course the reward the police get for protecting the rich is to get their pensions cut when the rich find another way to avoid taxes and communities end up bankrupt.  I resist.

As the only employee of a small non profit  I am responsible for a myriad of tasks.  Picking up supplies, making copies, banking, paying bills, keeping records, communicating with the membership, organizing events, supporting the policy work, providing staffing and support to committees, speaking to schools, raising money, and generally fostering the development of the environmental community.  Officially my duties do not revolve around policy work except in a  support capacity or when i raise the money to support a specific policy initiative, but to support others policy work and foster the development of the community I do need to know a bit of the policy, and  I am enmeshed in the policy work.  My computer skills are limited, partly because I did not grow up with computers, and partly because i am a bit of a luddite.  I am a writer, so email is my clsoe companion, but I prefer to hand address envelopes asking for money to the organization’s membership because it gets them opened better than a printed label. i like adding up long columns of numbers, do not drive a car, do not carry a cellphone and the easiest way to crash a computer is to ask me to put a new program on it or learn a new task.  If you are reading this you know I have a blog and that I am realy interested in tadpoles as well as ecological economics.

It is symbolic of the nature of advances in industrial society.  You have  computer program that you are used to , it is small and does just what you like.  Then your computer grows old and you have to get a new one.  Then it is nearly impossible to transfer all of the things you use to the new one.  The systems are no longer compatible.  So you have to go buy new programs for the new computer and the new versions come with all sorts of “upgrades”, none of which make it work any better, most of which are harder to use, and all of which take up way more bytes than ever.  You get a computer with 10 times the storage capacity of your previous version, but as every program you use uses12 times as many bytes, you fill up the new computer even faster than the old one.  This allows the corporations and the government to encourage you to stop storing anything on your own computer, and just leave it all on the cloud, allowing the government and businesses to snoop even easier.  Planned obsolescence with a sinister twist. These days I do almost all of my draft writing in my email program.  Way simpler to use than word, pages, or anything else I have run across.  I also have noticed that new Microsoft software especially tries to discourage people from using simple things like copy and paste by eliminating things from the drop down menus.  Then you have to remember commands and it works a little strangely if at all. Why is it hard to get a program that keeps that feature in an obvious place and works simply?

For many years I was a country carpenter, and I had to keep accounts.  What I took in, and all of the business expenses such as buying nails. It is how I learned to do accounts.  Interestingly I kept it all in a journal and one day i saw a story in Readers Digest that had the journal entries of a VT farmer from 190 years ago,.  Our journal entries, business and non business, were nearly identical. I now keep business records for my consulting work in a simple computer ledger similar to a checkbook ledger only with more room for comments. The weather and nature observations, as well as what I do each day, continue to be kept in the journal.   

After moving to wwkhjdfiowi 15 years ago I became a representative to the wehiej  from a very small activist group that no longer exists. Given the constant need for those willing to take on non profit responsibilities I became a vice president for several years until i stepped away to run for Mayor. After the campaign I was hired to be the administrative assistant at a time the wlewhjofr was hemorrhaging money after 18 months of no one minding the store.  Then the treasurer moved away and could not be replaced, so I took over more and more of the responsibilities. We, the board and staff,  turned around the financial picture ( we have two years of reserves in the bank), reorganized the corporate structure, added more projects,  and now have a very successful organization with a greater influence than at any time since I moved to eljmaopwgjtaqij.  Throughout my tenure in the office I have kept simple ledgers of all relevant transactions.  The number of ledgers has grown, from the two I started because there is both a c3 and a c4 that can not co mingle their finances.  As the c3 took on additional projects including providing fiscal agency for newly forming projects I added ledgers for all of them and started filing the 990’s that the previous administration had neglected.   Several years ago I was instructed by the aslogreio to use quickbooks, so I started keeping things in quickbooks while continuing to use my various ledgers for the work, and for all reporting purposes.  I find the ledgers easier to use.  They are easier to read, easy to fix, one can put more notes in them, and ii could put my financial reports right in the ledger.  With only several hundred financial transactions a year, pen and paper works just fine for doing all the math. 

A thought to ponder is that ww9ftow has an unemployment rate of 11%.  Why are we asking non profits to give money to consultants and software giants when we could be having PEOPLE do the work that can be done more than adequately with a pencil and paper?   The drive for efficiency is killing our communities.

All the while I have been watching the ldaiofj and ahgerwoah that push the “professionalization and corporatization” of small ngos. Some of my aioaou caught the fever and applied for an administrative upgrade grant.  Unfortunately we got it.  It was to be used for 3 things.  Buy a new computer and software, get a fancier quickbooks program and use it for everything, and make our website more interactive.  

From day one weird things have happened, and the weirder they get, the more I see a corporate plot, and the less I want to have to fix the weird things that happen. The computer glitches got very weird, which always makes me even surer that things will go awry, and they inevitably did/do.   I get frustrated with programs that do weird things and will not give me a format I find useful,  and with the insane system that requires planned obsolescence and corporate control.   I think of the expectation of the  asloagji4 that i get these things working as an indication of the inappropriateness of asking some alaerdierj to corporatize.  It asks for more capacity than is available even with a grant.  I did get the new computer opened up and turned on, but found none of the programs we tried to transfer with the data would work.  Computer went back into the box so i could actually get some work done.  It took more than 3 months before the new computer was useful, and 8 months later Microsoft office is still working weirdly.  A one person ngo with no IT staff is no place to do this kind of thing but thehrkls  thinks that they should and most aloarjurn  go along.   

We contracted with a accounting consultant.  No doubt I do things in a quirky way, and as I got tired of having to fix all the things the bank messed up i long since stopped believing anything the bank sent along.   It did not help the case of the aklodfrAhnfgk or the consultants that our bank was so mismanaged during the financial crisis that it lead to a government takeover of the bank and the CEO losing his Knighthood for financial shenanigans related to crashing the economy of the western world.   From day 1 the accountant and I did not see eye to eye.  The more she talked, the more I realized that she was asking me to follow procedures  that were developed by the industry that gave us Enron, collateralized debt swaps, and all the games the rich play with the accounting system to steal from the community and plunder the planet.  Recently, for the first time in eons ahjfrtkol selected a treasurer who is paying attention (it had been years since any of the wlejjmn actually read the budget) but in my last meeting with the aldfaio and the ajgaio I heard nothing that gave me any confidence in the evolution of the accounting system i was being forced to adopt.  When aqwgikaqrjfrdajkaw tell me monks developed accounting ( I think i saw once on TV that it was the knights of malta going into banking to finance the crusades that instituted the development of modern bookkeeping) , it makes me think of the organization that sold indulgences and conducted the inquisition.   Pay us money so you were guaranteed to get into heaven.  Die infidels. No accounting system bringing together those ideas is ever going to make sense.  The accountant went to school at a school that is run by the organization that  just recently decided to put a man in charge of all the nuns in America because they were too concerned about justice and not strong enough in support of patriarchy.  Reminds me of what Arlo Guthrie found at the draft board.  He was not moral enough to kill because he once littered.  It is a case of the 27 8×10 color glossy photos with the circles and arrows and a description on the back having nothing to do with keeping good records and being able to provide information for any need by the organization.  Nope it has to conform to the corporate model, with the official software of the repression or it is not right.  My pencil and paper are not good enough even though I find the errors by the bank and the accounting consultant and my reports are easier to read than quickbooks. 

It turns out that this project is almost over.  After a year it is likely the system will be operational enough that I can use it when the new fiscal year starts.  I spent a month (4 hours a week) comparing all the data in my system with the data the accountant had put into the new system.  Once I found the accountants errors the systems were shown to have identical transactions and totals for the last year and I can do the reconciliation between what I have, what the accountants system had, and what the bank says.  Also turns out that my self taught system that had evolved over the years provides pretty much the same information as everyone wants, so when I learn how to add new categories and actually work with quickbooks i ought to be able to run it, but it is still a bad idea for environmental organizations to buy into the planned obsolescence of corporate accounting systems that require hardware upgrades and enrich the plunderers of the planet while being taught by consultants that drive Big fat Cadillacs.

It also is likely that the unique structure of aeworo made the project more difficult than it might have been.  As a coalition most of the  asorjaqik work in the industry and have responsibilities for their own organizations that compete with aojfgtaioq for money and publicity.  It also means that personnel issues are ignored, or only dealt with  when there is troubler, with no regular tending  The project of the upgrade made more work for me than I really had time for ( as a supposedly 10 hr a week admin asst) but just about everything I asked the board to do so that I would have time to do the rest of what was going on ended up back in my lap including much, but thankfully not all,  of the IT stuff.   Combined with my luddite karma, it was not a good mix and forced me to do things like ask for a personnel policy, and job description,  which I think should have preceded the corporatization process rather than followed the craziness and abusiveness of it.  And it points out that the corporatizers need to be smarter about encouraging non profits to corporatize. If the aejma was not pushing the inappropriate model and providing funding for the parts it likes, then non profits would move at the appropriate pace, based on their actual capacity rather than some imagined capacity.  

I do want to point out that as a a;arioerk member I am on a aladiufhj that used a similar grant to upgrade its system and adopt better quickbooks accounting.  That organization is much larger, receives federal funding, has a payroll service,  and has a different mix of projects that they need to report on.  Appropriate for an upgrade, with the capacity to handle it.  Another NGO I am on the aldiudj of is sort of intermediate in size and also had an opportunity to get one of these grants to corporatize procedures.  My stance here was that I believed it would do more harm than good, but if the staff thought they would learn something useful, then go for it.  Staff has formed an advisory committee to help them, and they have asked me to serve on it so as to provide a perspective that they would not otherwise hear.   I did not want to interfere as I know I am an outlier, but as they asked, I will provide my counsel.  

In conclusion, the corporatization steamroller runs on, offering planned obsolescence and pushing the adoption of an accounting system developed to reward corporate criminals by non profits .  Resistance by 501c3 organizations may be futile if they expect to be funded by the giant aqacdf, but I stand with the resisters and my pencil and paper will still check all the math.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *