Published: Monday, June 9 2014 7:30 a.m. MDT
I like the concept, and there have been a few instances of employee-owned
businesses being successful, but really, when you come down to it, there are
enormous differences in the interests of owning a company vs being an employee
of the company.Owning a business is survival-of-the-fittest, with
brutal decisions involved, like laying off workers and replacing them with
machines, to better compete in a ruthless market. How many
employee-owned businesses survive the test of time? How many employee-owned
companies have survived major technological shifts that have rendered large
chunks of the employee base obsolete?
"...wages do not often create material wealth." Exactly so.Marx explained it like this. Labor's flow is C-M-C, the laborers sells
his labor time C for money M, which he then uses to by the necessities of life
C. This is steady state, survival without accumulation.The
capitalist's flow is M-C-M', The capitalist takes money M and buys a
commodity (could be labor, could be a physical product) C, which he sells for
more money M', only in this case M' = M + profit. Here is
accumulation.My thanks to the writer for bringing up employee
ownership. Such has been a mixed bag. Note that employee ownership is
different from Worker Self Directed Enterprise, WSDE, in that under WSDE not
only to the workers own the place, they also manage it democratically. Over the
long haul this is a BIG difference.
Perhaps the industry in an outlier compared to others, but software was built in
the 70s and 80s on employee participation in equity ownership of companies via
generous stock option plans. It is what built companies like Microsoft and
Oracle. Employees were willing to put in huge hours, because they were part
owners and had a stake in the success of the companies. It was
only through short sighted tax policy that the practice went away.I
currently work for a privately owned company that does about 3 billion a year in
business. The owner tries to create ownership in the company through
benefits... and a real retirement plan.... something almost unheard of in
current companies. It has the near same effect of gaining employee loyalty.
But what it doesn't do is encourage entrepreneurial culture - but rather
one based on caution. It has served my company now in positive ways.... but
very different ways.I enjoy a very comfortable lifestyle now because
of my association in companies that shared equity.... the extra effort was
realized in very real ways, far past my last day with them. I don't see
that incentive present in todays workplace.
I agree that employee owned businesses are a good thing. That's why
I've always been an advocate of small businesses, and family businesses.My father-in-law believes you can earn a LOT more if you are your own
boss. He started and ran many small businesses. Sometimes with a partner,
sometimes by himself. But he's always his own boss. The
advantage of starting your own business is... you get to keep all the income
produced by your labor (except what the Government takes) Instead of the Boss
getting all the income and giving some to you for your time.Of
course you need to put much of that money back into the business (IF you want it
to succeed)... but it's up to you how much you keep and take home to your
family.I know he has worked harder than I ever have, and has taken
more risks, and has failed more times than I could handle. So I have decided
to not take the risk and work for a wage. It provides what my family needs...
but I will never get "rich" this way... and I don't care to get
To "marxist" name the companies that are managed
"democratically". I see companies that are managed through the typical
Owner/President or the CEO running a board. Their owners make their workers
feel more involved by letting them vote on things, but in the end, they do not
actually run things democratically. Much like Communism being
"democratic" when put into practice.
RE: Redshirt1701 The largest WSDE in the world is the Mondragon Co-operative
in Spain. It's the largest, I don't know if it is the most
representative. Just do a search for Mondragon.
Marxist,If you want to work for an employee owned company... that's
fine. Do it! Start your own company! Open a taco stand and be your own
boss! Or open your own hospital, or aerospace engineering firm (people have
done it).But in the meantime... don't try to throw stumbling
blocks in front of regular companies. I want to keep my job, and my pay
check.Small businesses are great... but not EVERYTHING can be done
by small businesses or mom-and-pop shops. I can't imagine a small
mom-and-pop hospital, or a mom-and-pop run Boeing or GE.
During WWII, Congress froze all DoD and contractor wages to avoid War
Profiteering.Since prices were fixes, and in order to remain
competitive in the hot job market, Corporations were forced to add these
sorts of employee owned Stock Options in addition to other benefits; Healthcare,
Retirement, Sick Leave, Vaction as a means to intise skilled labor.The pratice stopped in the 1960-1970's once corporations realized these
now old geezers had all made themselves $millionaires by the time they
retired.It wasn't enough that they had also made WallStreet
investors extremely Wealthy as well.It's just a matter of Greed.Those who work - the producers - should be working for them, and not for
Yawn, ESOPs have been around for a long time – this article talks of
nothing new.Marxist,You have to quote someone with credibility
if you want us to take you seriously.Open minded/arinautYep,
it was the dems in WWII that established the practice and allowed greed to take
over. Why do you still support them?
To "marxist" they don't operate as a democracy any more than the US
does. The Mondragon Corporation operates more like a Republic where you have
the leading council making the big decisions. You see a democracy is where
everybody votes, but a republic is where people vote for a representative to
make their decisions. This is how modern corporations work. The owners vote
for a CEO, wich the Co-operative has, and that CEO makes the big decisions.Have you another corporation that is just like all other big businesses,
but you think is different?
Now that the Golden Goose is dead, the killers want to sell the carcass. The problem with employee ownership of business is the same as with
ownership of anything else, you've got to know what you're buying.
Business ownership is no longer just a case of a human owner and his employees
and the wealth of a business is no longer just the operational parts. In the Stock market, the true value of a business goes up or down often having
little relationship to the activities of the business itself.
Many of us would just like to be able to trade our labor for enough wealth to
handle the simple need of the good life. It would be nice to be rich but it
takes a lot of hard work, training, and luck that we don't really want to
take on. Not that we are lazy, it's just that we have other priorities.
However, since there are those who will work very hard at taking our
wealth away from us, we need to protect ourselves either by being well educated
or having a big brother to protect us. In the role of big brother
protector the government is expected to set the rules, regulations, enforce them
and do the other things we ask it to do. If the government was actually doing
its job we wouldn't need the Gebhardts and Angie's list to protect us
from unscrupulous vendors. Like the schoolyard bullies there are
those who would hamper our big brother and call him Nanny as a derogative term.
The only thing is, having a Nanny wouldn't be such a bad thing for people
who have more important things to do.
Re: ". . . having a Nanny wouldn't be such a bad thing for people who
have more important things to do."So, if you want to be cared
for by a nanny, go ahead. Make that choice.What you and fellow
liberals should not be able to do is make that choice for me.It's the difference between freedom and tyranny.
ANYONE can own stock in a publicly traded company. If you want to share in the
profit or loss of a company, just buy stock. A privately held company chooses
to whom it sells stock. A privately held company is under no obligation to sell
stock to its employees. The point is, if you want to take the risk
that a business owner takes, there is nothing that stops you from doing that.
Buy some stock. If you've chosen the right company, you'll make a
profit. If you've chosen the wrong company, you'll lose money.
That's what every business owner does every day of the year. He bets his
ability to earn a profit in a highly competitive market on his unique skills to
run a business better than his competition. The "government" does not
guarantee his "risk". Few businesses make a profit that
justifies the risk involved. When employees know so little about economics that
they demand that the minimum wage be doubled, do you really think they have
sufficient economic training to run their own business?
@Redshirt1701 "The Mondragon Corporation operates more like a
Republic." Mondragon is a hybrid. There are a number of us on the left
looking for a solution for labor, which, if you haven't noticed, is taking
a beating. The trajectory for capitalism is toward ever more difficulties for
labor. I'm looking for socialist models which involve individual
empowerment. We may have to learn some new tricks.
If you want to see an employee centered and successful business model, Google
America's largest steel producer, Nucor. As Artie Johnson would say,
To "marxist" what socialist system works? You are looking for a shiny
new car in the wrecking yard.The funny thing about you and your ilk
is that you keep thinking that if you try socialism again that you can get it to
work this time.When has socialism actually worked? The best
argument your ilk has ever made is that it works where capitalism is allowed to
work within it. Why is it that socialism can only survive with capitalism
funding it?You realize that the current trajectory for our economy
is socialism, and if it is allowed to continue on that path will only lead to
more misery and less individual empowerment. Socialism destroys individual
empowerment in favor of the collective.You are right, we need to
learn some new tricks. We need to learn to stand on our own and get the
governmetn off our backs. We also need to learn that government impeads
business, and that individuals will solve our problems, not the government.
Redshirt;"You are right, we need to learn some new tricks. We need to
learn to stand on our own and get the governmetn off our backs."I think if you would take a deep breath and set the ideology aside for a
moment and really try and understand what Marxist is saying you might find those
new tricks." I'm looking for socialist models which involve
individual empowerment" Marxist isn't saying anything about government
takeover, he's talking about personal empowerment.The key
principle of socialism is community. You can define the community anyway you
choose if you're creative. It can mean the whole society but it could also
mean a community of workers.If capitalism/private ownership is to
thrive it has to change it's ways and re-define the winners and losers
equation. That doesn't mean equal shares, so calm down. It does mean
"sharing" of risk, rewards, and responsibility, the point of the
Good editorial. I've been writing about this for 25 years. Yes, employee
ownership would have a significant impact on the rampant inequality that will
soon sink our economy, but there are other, even more persuasive reasons to look
at worker ownership models. Primary among these is that we currently have an
economy dominated by businesses that are in direct conflict with our social
ideals and political principles. In case you haven't noticed, most of the
businesses in our country are authoritarian regimes that basically own their
workers. This feudal pattern of business will eventually reach its inevitable
destination. We can reverse this by encouraging (through tax rates) the
transition to more democratic workplaces through various types of employee
ownership options. The moral reasons for this move are even more persuasive than
the economic arguments. We fought a war in the 18th century to overthrow
authoritarian rule, but we failed to extend it into the economic sphere. We are
now paying the price for that oversight.
To "pragmatistferlife" I don't think you understand socialism.
"Community" is not its key. The key to socialism is control. Control
by government officials that turn you from being an individual to just a number,
demographic, or cause. Socialism does not operate as a community, just look at
Europe. There is no "community" there, except for a minority of
individuals that have taken it on themselves to care for others. The people
look to the government, not the community, for help with most everything.
Socialism cannot exist where people have a sense of community because they will
reject the central planners.Why redefine "winner" and
"loser"? Winers are those that succeed, losers are those that
don't. How hard is that to understand?What new tricks does
Marxist have? Socialism failes every time it is tried. Sometimes the death is
quick, sometimes it is slow. The result is the same either way.
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