One of the major issues addressed by both the Left and the Right is unemployment. The Left seems to fixate on minimum wages and a laborer’s minimum rights while the Right seems to fixate on outsourcing or the outright relocation of jobs and production to foreign countries and laborers. Both of these fixations are practical attempts to improve the conditions of the American laborer, however, they both neglect what seems to me to be the major issue – the laborer has no say, no sovereignty.
Stick with me here. The following argument may seem neither here nor there but I promise you it is absolutely relevant to the qualms we have with the way our economy and the global economy operates.
Money is power.
Before the majority of states upon this Earth attempted to govern themselves with democratic republican systems, there was feudalism. Essentially, feudalism was nothing more than a system in which a vast minority held political power and the vast majority labored for a right to subsistence. As Americans, feudalism seems vague and foreign but it isn’t. Feudalism is essentially the same as chattel slavery – the way in which American society originally operated. Property owners controlled the government (whether that property consisted of money, land, or human beings) where as those without property were forced to labor for these tyrants in hopes of obtaining enough crumbs to live on. Throughout our history, we have weakened this system of feudalism. We abolished slavery, we established systems of welfare for the old and disadvantaged, and we punished those who hampered individuals from finding a way to make a living. Yet our work is not finished. Our republic has yet to live up to the ideals on which it was founded.
Money is power.
There is political power but there is also economic power. American history fixates on a progressive movement of distributing political power more and more equally. At the birth of this nation, for the most part, only wealthy, white, males with considerable property had political power. Now, almost all adult citizens have political power. However, we are a nation of common sense and we, whether Left or Right, inbetween or outside, all recognize that money is power as well.
Should we pursue the equal distribution of economic power – of money? Many think so, Many more think not. I am not an advocate for complete socialism nor am I an advocate for the complete redistribution of money or economic power so that all Americans no matter their disadvantages and no matter their efforts maintain the same – however there is a difference between bringing democratic and republican values into the economy and adopting an absolute, socialistic economic policies. This is not an argument for or against capitalism, for or against socialism, this is an argument for democracy and for republicanism not just in politics but in the economy as well and I believe such an adoption can help to solve the different problems the Left and the Right combat today.
What is a Republican Corporation?
It is nothing more than this simple idea: laborers should have a say in the organization for which they labor.
I once worked for Waffle House – a staple, 24-7, minimum wage type diner in the Southeast. I worked hard and I was treated well, but at the same time there was an unnecessary hurdle between my fellow workers and I and greater efficiency: the management. To be a manager, one had to have a college degree. This meant that many managers had no experience as waiters or cooks and that many managers had a fundamental lack of understanding of the issues employees faced. Instead, managers only understood the complaints of customers. While customer opinions are important in any business, one cannot neglect the qualms of the laborers that may, in fact, be the underlying causes of the customers’ complaints.
Throughout approximately one year of employment with Waffle House, I recall going through at least three managers. Two of which where very nice and seemingly invested but horribly inexperienced and therefore incompetent. Their incompetence ensured our incompetence. Not only did they fail to solve our problems but they created problems. All the while, there were employees at my store who had worked hourly positions for over 20 years. These veterans essentially managed the store for the manager. These veterans held the potential to be magnificent managers – but they had no college degree.
In a Republican Corporation, managers would be elected by employees. Incompetent managers would be ousted and competent managers would rise to the occasion. This isn’t even to say that a Republican Corporation wouldn’t have college-educated managers. In fact, in a Republican Corporation, employees could vote for managers that might increase wages when a certain store is profiting exceptionally creating new opportunities for employees to be able to access expensive higher education programs.
Not only would employees have a say in who managed them but managers would have a say in who managed them. Low level managers could use their pick for higher level managers as a reason to be elected. As this hierarchy extends, one could envision corporations in which CEOs relied not only on the profits provided by consumers but on the approval of their employees – their constituents. In the same way that our government operates now, so too should corporations.
If the only factors impacting the heads of corporations are the opinions of consumers and the increase in profits but the needs of the laborers are neglected – then what is the difference from the free market and slavery? Wage slaves have the opportunity to switch masters? Big whoop.
If democracy and republicanism didn’t throw governments into anarchy, but instead created the most successful states human beings have ever recorded, then why should we believe that democracy and republicanism will ruin the economy? Corporations should not just please the consumers, they should also please those that depend on them – and that they, as corporations in need of labor, depend on – for a means to survive.
How many times have you pulled up to a drive through and been frustrated as the employees seem not to care. How many times has the product you purchased – the burger or burrito – failed to attain its potential because the laborers in the kitchen simply didn’t care?
Why should they?
Republican corporations give the laborer a reason to invest in their occupation. So long as we refuse supposedly “low skilled” laborers sovereignty, how can we expect to receive anything from them but the bare minimum? Despite every bad burger, every bad burrito, I have received, I have also received phenomenal creations of masticatable art. There is a certain skill – or at least heightened effort – required to rolling a golden burrito, but the current system essentially discourages the ambitious and the hardworking from endeavoring in their labor.
Minimum wage workers are expendable. Minimum wage work – by its very name – encourages minimum effort.
Give workers incentive. Give workers a stake. Give workers an opportunity to rise and consumers will also find themselves appreciative.
If corporations don’t like uppity laborers, then they can leave. We don’t need McDonalds if McDonalds doesn’t believe their laborers should have a voice. We can make our own corporations from the ground up and we can do so with the same values that this country was founded upon.
The Left focuses on raising minimums. This would be unnecessary in the face of sovereign employees who could lobby for greater compensation and elevate their skills and effort to meet the difference or crumble – like any bad business – and be replaced by those who will. The All-American work ethic can save American jobs if only American workers are granted sovereignty.
The Right focuses on combating outsourcing. This would be unnecessary in the face of sovereign employees who could create the same goods with or without upper management, yet, under his new system, without the demand of excessive riches from the heads of corporations, they could raise wages and lower prices to compete with countries that continue to exploit their work forces.
Long ago, Americans decided that political power should not be inherited or bought. Yet, as we recognize the fact that money is power, we continue to let individuals inherit and buy our means to economic power. We talk of political corruption – and when we do it is almost tied to money. Yet when we talk of solutions, we rarely talk about changing how we think about the economy. This isn’t about capitalism or socialism, this is about democracy and republicanism. This is about Americans standing with Americans and saying that we all deserve sovereignty and respect.