OK, so everyone knows if you’re mining the newswires for some tidbit of sillyheaded leftist tripe, the latest extreme-PC inanity or just something that you want to angry up the blood, typing in “Berkeley” as your search query is a pretty safe bet, almost as consistently productive as inputing “Michael Moore” when looking for news on fat lying sacks of crap.

But even Berkeley sometimes manages, in spite of itself, to do something that wouldn’t make Loki rub his hands manicially while mumbling, “Yes, yes, it’s all going according to plan!”

Measure O was one of those things. An earnest, enthusiastic but softheaded type wished to make it a crime, punishable by up to six months in jail, to sell any kind of brewed coffee within the city limits that wasn’t organic or Fair Trade certified. Now I’m not going to extensively go into the entire organics/Fair Trade debate here. That’s a lengthy post for another day, but it’s enough to know right now that I abhor organic food (partially because I’m already forced to eat it – more on that in a moment).

However, in the case of Measure O, sanity somehow clawed her way out of the catacombs to which the city of Berkeley so often confines her and her sweet face beamed upon the world.

On election day, Measure O was defeated by a 40% margin. Berkeley did the right thing. Somewhere in Hell, Hitler looked up and silently watched a snowflake dance its merry way to the ground . Everywhere, dogs and cats came together in the spirit of brotherhood and harmony. Baby Jeebus rejoiced.

Well, the Berkeley co-ops are to Berkeley as Berkeley is to the rest of the nation. Often, their membership consists of the self-selected hardcores, those who are too stupid to tell the difference between cooperativism and communism, the kinds of people who think that living in an apartment and contributing to a capitalistic transaction would be tantamount to chucking books on the fire at Nuremburg.

I might be exaggerating just a tad, but the general tenor of what I said is true. You’ve got Berkeley, and then you’ve got the freebased Berkeley that is much of the USCA: purified, concentrated… hell, practically turned into a fine powder and weaponized .

To be sure, that isn’t true of the entire membership. You’ve got poor people who just can’t afford apartments, those too lazy to go through the process of looking for another place to live, kids who couldn’t find one because the housing crunch just doesn’t leave any open spots anywhere, and folks who would just rather live in a more social atmosphere. I fit in at least a lttle bit with all of those.

I see my co-op, and the co-op movement in general, as a useful and practical business model for people without a lot of resources. You find some like-minded fellow people, and you pool your resources to further whatever goal you’re aiming for. In this case, it’s low-cost student housing. You’d be amazed though how many people in Che shirts and steeped in the “philosophy” of Rage Against the Machine think they’re smashing capitalism by living here.


These types are often just absolutely devastated when they learn that the USCA is an honest to God corporation .

So while you do have your share of normals (hell, in CZ alone there’s like 5 libertarians… do they count as normals?), there is an undeniably significant component of extremist lefty types: unrepetant Marxists, anarchists, eco-freaks etc), and when Berkeley does someting sensible like hand Measure O its ass, you can often count on the co-ops to pick up the Stupid Torch right where Berkeley dropped it.

If they can’t make Berkeley buy the economically unsustainable coffee they want them to, at least the co-ops will!

Living in CZ, I’m already forced to eat almost exclusively organic produce. which is often inferior tasting, always expensive and occasionally sprinkled with delightful “prizes” (ie, bugs). The fact that it’s actually worse for the environment and your health, and that the only real reason I’m forced to put up with this shit is because it makes some poorly-informed people with guilt-complexes feel all fuzzy about themselves inside since they’re under the mistaken impression that going organic is like giving the Earth Mother a great big hug really really gets my goat.

Right now, the co-op Board of Directors meeting is going on, and they have probably already voted to make this part of official co-op policy. So not only will I be paying extra money for food to help some silly college kids give a blowjob to Captain Planet, but I’ll also be subsidizing an economically and enviromentally fallacious procedure of coffee buying .

This was a quote I particularly enjoyed from the Daily Cal article:


“It’s a debate right now as to what’s more important, the individual’s right to choose or that we’ve already committed ourselves to certain principles by being part of a cooperative,” de Giere said.


That’s right you putz. Let’s take a gander at what those principles actually are:



1.Open, voluntary membership
2. Democratic control
3. Limited return on equity capital
4. Net surpluses belong to user-owners
5. Honest business practices
6. Ultimate aim to advance common good
7 . Education
8. Cooperation among cooperatives


Hmmm, I guess I missed the part about silly environmental practices and poorly thought out social justice schemes.

This really would surprise no one who spent any time in the co-ops, seeing as how anyone seeking to advance some whacked-out political cause will immediately claim that we have to support it because it’s part of our mission as a co-op.

Want to create a house policy to let whatever bums in off the street sleep on our couches? It’s a co-op man! Not letting bums in isn’t being very co-operative, dude.

Wanna donate house money to some guy who hasn’t washed his hair since Woodstock to further his political cause of delcaring all property illegal? I don’t think we have a choice. What kind of a co-op would we be if we didn’t?

What say we invite some fifth-column socialists to sleep in our common area for free while they’re attending some dumbass anti-everything-but-hemp rallies? We’d like, be violating our co-op principles if we didn’t!

We had this very conversation in our weekly house council around November 2001, when some dirty peace hippies wanted to sleep at CZ for the weekend so they could go make idiot spectacles of themselves during the day protesting those darned wars for oil and multiple genocides that the US commits every other Tuesday. I calmly pointed out that there was absolutely nothing in the Rochdale Principles that had anything to do with social or political causes, and to subsidize such causes is an unfair use of house funds contributed by the entire membership.

They voted to let them stay, of course.

Like so many other things in Berkeley, you have to just sorta shrug and say, “Typical.”

last update : 23-5-2018

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