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After the Restoration, A Reintegration of Cottage Industries?

Down with the Tower to Liberate Diversity !

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With the entire world is in a state of transition, I decided to break with my better judgement and to reach out to one of the units of economic development in Maine’s overbearingly centralized economy.

I don’t know if it was because I have been reading many articles about money on Medium, or because of it being a time when the old towers of power are in precarious standing that I felt more emboldened than before to speak truth to power.

Between the lines the of polite conversation, there was a current of hostility. Central management is aware that I write truthfully of the long history of corrupt practices in Maine’s centrally managed economy. A centrally managed economy uses wealth redistribution as a system of control. Open criticism of the system is neither expected nor anticipated.

There is no direct line to be drawn between the undercurrent and the fact that I am a critic of the system but there are prevalent cultural attitudes inherent to a system of hierarchies.

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Once when dealing with an officiate of the ubiquitous order, I was advised not to approach a purported local economic development resource and instead to attend their meetings silently for a year to show feigned respect, though “feigned” was not said but what else could it be? How could anyone reasonably respect an organization that expected such obedient demonstration of dull mindedness? The advice negated respect for who I am, one who grew up in an innovative entrepreneurial environment which spawned a local cluster industry, such as is a often sited goal of economic development. The home business in which I was raised and the free enterprise context in which it flourished was a decentralized ordering in which it was a given that respect is a two way street as are conversations.

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However, this being an epic moment in history, it was worth putting misgivings aside to see if there were any cracks in the edifice.

Before the change, Andersen Design was an anomaly, creating a handcrafted production process in the USA using ceramics, one of man’s most ancient technologies. The old global order designated the making of affordable hand crafted products to be located in the developing world. The results are often a mass produced product lacking the authenticity of the original culture, so lacking at times that the hand crafts have all the soul one would expect to find in the 19th century factory environments that emerged out of the industrial revolution, spawning a resistance that called itself the an Arts and Crafts movement in America. This movement was identified with simplicity of form, a simplicity which re-emerged in the design movement of the mid-twentieth century of which Weston and Brenda Andersen were a part and have carved their own place in history.

The Baby Seal by Andersen Design
In the midst of a virus, in an area in which tourism is a mainstay business, in a world where humanity is sheltering in place, Andersen Design can carry on, and grow, consistent with our vision of reinventing our production as an artform, as a network of small independently owned slip casting studios, suitable to being attached to a home.

In some circles this would be referred to as “cottage industries” which were displaced by the industrial revolution of the 19th century. It evokes the family farm, on which my Dad was raised in the era before corporations took over farming. However the fact that a networked community of homesteaded productions heralds back to a cultural life style that existed before the industrial revolution and has been made more viable in a future emergent from an act of nature which is transforming the global world order, dominate since the industrial revolution, is worthy of contemplation.

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This did not impress my local representative, as my vision received the same reaction I have received for years when presenting a proposal. None, as if I had not said anything at all.

Maine’s share of trillions of dollars of redistributed money, printed out of thin air and distributed by the federal government will be processed by same state and non-profit corporations that have dismissed Andersen Design for years. This is attributable to the fact that a centrally managed economy can only conform to monolithic central management. Least of all can the system adapt to anything unique in its own right. In centrally managed systems, the system does not adapt to the agents within it, the agents are expected to serve the system’s agenda. This is the difference between the functioning of a centrally managed system and one ordered by complexity theory which I introduced in a recent post.
3. CAS exhibit distributed, rather than centralized control.
In CAS, there is no central mode of control; it is distributed throughout the system through its individual agents. This allows the system to react and adapt to a faster and much greater extent than if there was only one source of control (Zimmerman, Lindberg and Plsek, 2001).
4. CAS exhibit emergent outcomes and behaviors.
The outcomes of CAS emerge from a process of self-organization, rather than that of external design and control. This emergent outcome is a result of the interactions and synergies between individual agents, and cannot be predicted by studying the properties of the individual component alone. For instance, communities have often been observed to self-organize and respond in a coordinated fashion, without a formal leader or directive, in response to major natural disasters. Studying the skills and resources available to each member could not have predicted this emergent group behavior and outcome. (Zimmerman, Lindberg and Plsek, 2001).
Quoted from An Introduction to Complexity Theory by Jun Park
Our business is unique because of our line of functional forms and wild life sculptures has no known comparison in America in size and depth of glazes and decorating techniques. Andersen Design was born just in the nick of time, in America when one could develop such an independent free enterprise targeting an affordable product for the middle classes.

Andersen Design’s story is replicated throughout history in the transformation of cottage industries to factory work, in the forced relocation of Chinese rural populations to grid housing in skyscraper boxes. in the planned relocation of pre-existing populations to make room for Air B& B, now a casualty of corona virus.
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These are stories which are generally told through the framework of economic progression. A quality job is one that pays “higher than average wages and benefits” with no factoring for the level of engagement in the work process, or the importance of independence, self reliance, and self esteem to human well being. Those are the trade offs for the tax payer subsidized jobs or the apartment in the grid tower that has running water. The working definition of a quality job used by the corporate state is based on the same metrics as profit as the bottom line, used by companies traded on the stock exchange. Amazon is known both for its higher standard of wages and benefits and its poor working conditions, the 21st century version of a 19th century factory, and for the corporate welfare the company receives from state governments vying for an Amazon headquarters or distribution center, in exchange for “quality jobs” defined as “jobs that pay higher than average wages and benefits”.

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It is human nature to project our own hopes into the future outcome of overriding events. My hope is that shelter in place will result in more a more self organizing world but it is a given that central management will try to keep its power structures in tact. In a centralized economy, community leadership is but an extension of state management, and there are no locally rooted resources, excepting those outside the system and off the grid.

The director of the local unit speculated that if grants are to become available,all the old rules would remain in place and stated, among those rules, that grants will be distributed as a one to one matching matching fund.

She couldn’t be serious, I thought, in a crisis environment which is causing so many businesses to hemorrhage money, a system which advantages the haves over the have nots will remain in place? I wondered if she was just emotively targeting me as if to say that our business will never qualify, not even in this hour when massive amounts of air money are being distributed and many are justifying ever escalating deficits by rationalizing that the supply of money is infinite.

Huh? Is she for real? Three seals emerging from water by Andersen Design

I told the unit director that the money they are redistributing is printed out of thin air, whereas our assets are product designs and brand which took 67 years to create.

The system is only crediting financial assets, if our assets were attributed with a financial value, in a one to one matching basis, we would qualify for a large grant.

Our assets can support an industry of independent slip casting studios, perfect for the new terms of existence in which people are not only thinking about how to deal with the current crisis but also how to be prepared for a future pandemic. This should encourage growth in businesses in a home, but not everybody wants to be sitting at a computer desk all day long.

Being prepared for the next pandemic means supporting a diversity of work which can continue even when society is sheltering in place, a new cottage industry culture.

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The director mentioned a list of organizations which would be implemented in redistributing the anticipated air money, but I recognized the one-to- one grants as a program of the Maine Technology Institute, a corporation chartered by special act of legislation that breaks many laws and rules in its construction.

MTI was created during the Angus King Administration

In 1999, during the Angus King administration, The Maine Technology Institute was established by the Maine Legislature as a nonprofit corporation with public and charitable purposes. 
It is stated in the statutory charter that the duties, activities and operations of the institute are within the provisions of the federal Internal Revenue Code, Section 501(c)(3).

However the Institute is constructed as a public private relationship, The institute is public and the board that runs it is private
§15307. Prohibited interests of officers, directors and employees
An officer, director or employee of the institute or a spouse or dependent child of any of those individuals may not receive any direct personal benefit from the activities of the institute in assisting any private entity. This section does not prohibit corporations or other entities with which an officer or director is associated by reason of ownership or employment from participating in science and technology activities with the institute if ownership or employment is made known to the board and the officer or director abstains from voting on matters relating to that participation. This prohibition does not extend to corporators who are not officers or directors of the institute. [PL 1999, c. 401, Pt. AAA, §3 (NEW).]
SECTION HISTORY
PL 1999, c. 401, §AAA3 (NEW).

I submit that the chartering of the MTI corporation is a violation of Article IV Part Third Section 14 of the Maine Constitution, which prohibits the Maine Legislature from chartering corporations by special act of legislation, granting only two exceptions.


Article IV Part Third Section 14, the Maine Constitution

The targeted sector of Maine State Inc is identical to the high valued industries designated to be located in developed nations in the global world order, as described in Marco Rubio’s report, Made in China 2026 and the Future of American Business- in short, high tech and new tech.

The statute authorizes the board of MTI to make a profit and own intellectual property rights.
§15303-A. Maine Technology Capacity Fund
2. Organization. The board has all the powers and authority, not explicitly prohibited by law, necessary or convenient to carry out and effectuate the functions, duties and responsibilities of the fund, including, but not limited to:
………….
G. Owning intellectual property, licensing intellectual property and negotiating for and collecting royalty rights or otherwise realizing a return on investment made under the fund and all programs of the institute when appropriate in order to promote the interests and investments of the State in furthering science and technology; and [PL 2003, c. 20, Pt. RR, §7 (NEW); PL 2003, c. 20, Pt. RR, §18 (AFF).]
The financing that MTI oversees is linked to the Maine Public Retirement System through a refundable tax credit which guarantees up to 80% of loss that the retirement system might incur through §1026-T. Innovation finance program, which means the taxpayers carry the risk and the Maine Public Employees Retirement Fund- and MTI and its beneficiaries, reap the gain.

I submit that the §1026-T. Innovation finance program is unconstitutional pursuant to the Maine Constitution, Article IX, Section 18:

Maine Constitution Article IX Section 18

Although Article IX section 18 includes the word “invest” it also says “shall not be encumbered for, or diverted to, other purposes”, where as §1026-T. Innovation finance program clearly defines the purpose for which the Maine Public Retirement Fund is being utilized as “to increase the supply of venture capital to the economy of the State by improving access by innovative businesses in this State to venture capital funds”.

Add to that, that chartering the MTI corporation by special act of Legislation is arguably unconstitutional pursuant to Article IV, Part Third, Section 14 of the Maine Constitution.(see above)
§1026-T. Innovation finance program
1. Established. The authority may create and oversee a state innovation finance program, referred to in this section as “the program,” to increase the supply of venture capital to the economy of the State by improving access by innovative businesses in this State to venture capital funds. Investment performance of the program may be partially guaranteed by refundable tax credits issued by the authority to the retirement system. This section does not mandate or require any investment by the retirement system or give the retirement system any economic development responsibilities, its sole responsibility being to safeguard, invest and increase retirement system assets consistent with its fiduciary duty to its members.
The questionable use of Maine Employee Retirement Funds for a purpose arguably prohibited by the Maine Constitution characterizes the ethical standards operative in Maine’s centrally managed economy. It is common place that federally appropriated funds are repurposed by the corporate state, in example, read What’s Wrong with Democratic Socialism ? The centrally managed State has been progressively repurposing everything in Maine to serve its economic agenda since 1976 when the centrally managed economywas institutionalized.

A Matching Fund Advantages the Haves over the Have Nots, the More So, When Coordinated with Other Programs

On the mere surface, a matching fund discriminates in favor of the haves over the have nots. Technically, smaller grants can be made but given the trajectory of MTI and Maine State Inc, towards developing high valued industries, exclusively, and the limitation of the funding amount, that is unlikely.

The discrimination goes much deeper when factoring in other programs. The system will likely refund larger matching grants, when one calculates the impact of combined programs in Maine’s corporate welfare package.

The MTI charter states that MTI should inform the private party about other programs
2. Targeted technology boards…... Each technology board may ….. help companies network with each other and advise them on funding opportunities and on the availability of other support services….
Maine has tax programs such as the Pine Tree Zone and it also has the Seed Capital Tax Credit which is a refundable tax credit worth 50% of an investment. A refundable tax credit means if no taxes are owed the public owes the holder the value of the tax credit.

MTI is the only place in the state corporate network where I have found an instruction to inform the applicant about other programs, suggesting that it is the intended starting point, doubling the value of the private investment,as a first step.

I have never found it written in the Maine statutes that it is prohibited to combine corporate welfare benefits. The larger the investment is, the greater the likelihood that it will receive tax exemptions, some as high as 100%. After doubling the qualified investment with a grant from MTI, the investor can then apply tax exemptions and quite possibly owe no taxes when awarded a Seed Capital Tax Credit, which will refund half the investment amount via the taxpayers, if no taxes are owed. This results in the investor being refunded his original contribution to the matching grant, amounting to a zero investment of the investors own money, which is a deal only available to large investors.

A Rapidly Changing World


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During this time, such as the modern world has never seen before, when the internal consistency of the global world order may be injured in ways we do not yet know, the central control by the state will try to keep its grip over everyone and everything.

However the rules are completely different now. I say so after listening to a legal webinar explaining pandemic unemployment. The world is changed and the old rules no longer function for the purposes of pandemic relief. That which I was told by the local unit director of economic development is inconsistent with the thinking found in coronavirus relief webinars.

We are in a time when the reigns have spun out of control. There will be a struggle, or maybe even a collaboration, over who and what controls the future. This is a phenomenal time, I say with no exaggeration. Some horrific things will happen but so will some miracles. In example, read an article on Medium The Coronavirus Will Devastate Developing Nations by Zack Breslin. I thought it a horrific truth but there was nothing to be done about it, and then I watched a show about Lady Gaga, Pepsi Cola, and IBM organizing fundraising to help those with the least resources and so there is something being done about it, giving hope.

Hand Made Making has always been a part of global industrial revolutions Hand Made Making is not about big money but it is an important part of the story which engages another set of values. In consideration of those additional values, the world should not continue to be segregated into high value and low value industries. There needs to be a value reintegration for wholeness, which is the basis of health. In the USA we need to reinstate the values found within the hand crafted movement and former cottage industries which were displaced by the industrial revolution.

Andersen Design has the assets to make a difference but we lack the essential funding. Please sign up for our Kickstarter support list. You can also support us through a purchase of vintage work. We negotiate and accept offers we cannot refuse, in consideration of our objectives.

God bless !

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