A fisherman’s fable

Pauline Green, the distinguished President of the International Co-operative Alliance has always said that co-operatives are about serving human need and not greed. Here, adapted from an old teaching story I picked up via Swami Atmapriyananda is a co-operative fable that says the same thing.

A fisherman is lounging at the wharf and a financier comes up and asks why he isn’t out there fishing. “I caught enough fish to share around yesterday. Today, someone else in the co-operative is fishing.”

“But if you fish more, the co-op could sell the extra fish and make yourselves more money.”

“Why would we want to do that?”

“With the money, the co-op could put down a deposit for a loan and buy more boats and hire the other people round here to man them.”

“Why would we want to do that?”

“Well, then you could make even more money and sell out to someone else – and then you can all retire.”

“Why would we want to do that?”

“Then you could spend your days lounging on the wharf and only fishing as much as you pleased.”

“But that’s what I’m doing right now.”

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One thought on “A fisherman’s fable

  1. What if there were people in the community who were hungry and unemployed? Do co-operatives have a duty to expand in such a situation? If a co-operative is meeting the needs of its existing members then is that enough?

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