I came across this post from about three years ago that seems to apply to my recent posts on tiny houses and simplicity. Take a look… I think it applies more today than it did even three years ago… Click on the image below to go there.
But, first, let’s look at an unusual way of running a business, by having your employees own the company. One popular craft brewery has made a name for itself in part by going that route, with strong results so far….
One of things that we think is a big societal issue is this widening gap between the haves and the have-nots. And we realized that we had an opportunity to support people owning something that was increasing in value. Shared equity has been an incredibly powerful engine for us….
The better I do, the better we do, and I personally take that to every day of my job, and it really does inspire us all to go above and beyond in a way that I haven’t experienced at other employers….
Shared equity vs pure capitalism is a very thought provoking idea to me. Especially in the circumstances where we find that today’s capitalism returns are overwhelmingly skewed to the top 1% of our citizens. It is just not being shared by the people who are actually creating the wealth as it once was. Will shared equity become the new capitalism in the future? I can only hope so; it would indeed solve many of the social issues of our times.
In my day “the three legged stool” was the symbol for a successful enterprise. The three legs were Owner/Employees/Customers. Each had equal weight in corporate prosperity. If something is beneficial to all three then it was quickly implemented. Over the years the Customer leg has been shortened. If something can be made for a penny less and the product will still last at least through its warranty period it is cost reduced. Product longevity and quality is missing from far to many capitalist institutions.
The Employee leg of the stool has been ruthlessly amputated. As profits rise they are never shared by those who generate them. In fact brutal downsizing has become the mantra. The median income for U.S. families has actually decreased significantly while profits sour.
The only leg getting attention now is the Owner or stockholder. He is the king of capitalism as shown by the massive increase in wealth of the ultra-rich in our society. It seems the only way to straighten out the three legs is to make the employees the owners. With shared equity another thing that diminishes is the constant need to grow profits. The new owners will usually be satisfied with a constant income and not be obsessed with more and more. It is obvious that many business fail because they tried to grow too fast.
Our industrial society started out as a cottage industry. Small businesses were built based on local needs. Maybe it is time to start heading back in that direction. If you ask me “Too Big To Fail” is a formula for the implosion of capitalism. How to make shared equity once again happen is the question of the day. The first answer is probably to force politicians to join Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in realizing that shared equity appears to be our only viable future.
Is it a bad thing that I want to consume less this year than I did last year?
This is a question I have been contemplating lately. Although I am not making out a specific list for 2016 I have decided to shed myself of much of the stuff I own and to not spend so much this year. It sounds like a noble goal but that very idea seems to have the world in a panic right now.
As I am writing this post, which is actually a couple of weeks before it is likely posted, stock markets are diving into negative territory because China manufacturing is slowing down. To the capitalists around the world this means that we are consuming less than in the past. To them, if we are not consuming more and more then our economy is not sustainable.
I must admit that I am not much of a fan of pure capitalism. But I’m sure, if you have read even a few of my post, you know that already. Pure capitalism just seems to be concentrated on greed than anything else. Everyone wanting more and more is to me a negative instead of a positive. Of course I am saying these words with a “western” mentality where many of us are fortunate enough to have discretionary spending money, more and more means buying things we don’t really need. To much of the world “more and more”might just mean putting enough food on the table so that their family can thrive. That is a completely different mentality.
Oil prices are going down because people like me gave up our 18 mpg car for a 35 mpg version and are even driving that one less. That on the face of it seems to be a good thing but to the capitalists it means our economy is shrinking and will soon collapse.
I know earlier I said I am not a fan of pure capitalism but I am a fan of regulated capitalism. Without it our country and many others around the world would not be in the enviable condition we are. Capitalism drives prosperity when it is properly regulated.
Getting back to the initial question, I don’t really care what others think about my decision. I have decided to take up the mantel of “Simplicity” more seriously than I have in past years. I am shedding things that I have not used in the past 5 years and that seems is a LOT of stuff. Thankfully stuff just doesn’t mean much to me at this stage of my life. Right now simplicity is the key to my satisfying retirement, at least for 2016.
Pope Francis recently spoke out about “unbridled capitalism”. A good example of that is the unregulated sales of guns in this country. Even my small town of 2,000 now has a gun shop where anyone can buy just about any weapon they choose. Capitalism is the best economic system in the world but when it is unfettered from any moral requirements it is perhaps among the worst…
I have been accused by some who have come to this site primarily in the antagonist mode to be anti-capitalism. I hope that is not the general persona that I put forth. It is true that I don’t think that unfettered capitalism is a good thing. If left to its own capitalism would morph into a survival of the fittest mode or something even worse. But I don’t think those beliefs make me against capitalism.
I thoroughly recognize that capitalism is the primary driver that has made the U.S. and much of the industrialized world what it is today. Without capitalism we might all be in the survival mode as found in much of Africa and other third world countries. Constrained capitalism simply brings out the best in us. Without the Robber Barons of a century ago our country would look much different. But at the same time without the Republican president Teddy Roosevelt taking down the Robber Barons things would probably have looked just as dreary.
Here is a little about what Wikipedia says about capitalism:
Capitalism is an economic system in which trade, industry, and the means of production are largely or entirely privately owned and operated for profit. Central characteristics of capitalism include capital accumulation, competitive markets and wage labor. In a capitalist economy, the parties to a transaction typically determine the prices at which assets, goods, and services are exchanged….
Proponents of capitalism argue that it creates more prosperity than any other economic system, and that its benefits are mainly to the ordinary person.Critics of capitalism variously associate it with economic instability, an inability to provide for the well-being of all people, and an unsustainable danger to the natural environment. Socialists maintain that, although capitalism is superior to all previously existing economic systems (such as feudalism or slavery), the contradiction between class interests will only be resolved by advancing into a completely social system of production and distribution in which all persons have an equal relationship to the means of production.
Having a “completely social system of production and distribution in which all persons have an equal relationship to the means of production.” is simply not workable as proven by history. Without the possibility of advancing your personal situation there is simply no incentive to make things better. But at the same time I realize that capitalism so often results in extreme greed, corruption, and worse if it is not controlled and regulated. That is where our governmental functions come in. Someone needs to be at the reigns of capitalism so that it doesn’t destroy itself. We seem to have lost that sense of governmental responsibility in the last few decades. Hopefully we will get it back before it is too late….
Des Moines IA – Brandeis Department Store
Department stores are the epitome of a capitalist society. They started springing up in the early 1900s and soon became an important “go to” place in every large American city and even in many European cities. If you want to see a list of now defunct department stores click here. I guess Walmart SuperStores are the equivalent in today’s world. But I kind of think even these will soon be a thing of the past replaced by the Amazons of today.
Progress is also a necessary ingredient in capitalists societies…
I think everyone knows that our number one business in the U.S. is selling weapons systems and other means of destruction throughout the world. I suspect that almost every country in the world has at least a few of our $50 million military airplanes and some of our $1 million bombs to go with them. The $50 million is of course for a second-hand airplane, if you want a newer one be prepared to fork over three times that cost. With a $600 billion annual budget for such things our military probably scrap these guys on a regular basis so there are lots of used ones for sale to our friends and future enemies 😉 . I would be very surprised if all countries don’t have at least some of our guns. After all we are the number one gun maker and correspondingly the murder capital of the world.
But who knows what our number two business is? It’s storage lockers. That sleepy business that started in the 1960s has been booming for a couple of decades now. All of us seem to be very good citizens of our capitalist society. We buy and buy until we fill our current abodes then just keep going by renting another one or two public storage lockers. Public storage has been thoroughly ingrained into our society. There is now even a TV show dedicated to storage lockers. Just within a two-mile radius of my small town of 2,000 people are six different storage locker places of at least one hundred storage garages each. I’m sure they are all pretty much filled with people’s junk. I’m not sure which is worse, just throwing out the old things or stuffing them in a rented garage never to be seen again. I suspect that there are more public storage garages in this country than there are families. But, I can proudly attest to the fact that I am not renting one…
Ok, I hope FactCheck doesn’t come across my site as I really don’t know if these two items are number one and two 🙂 They just seem like it to me. But what do I know…
Can you imagine a democracy that was the result of the people living the country rising up and not from an invasion by the U.S.? What happened to the Bush Doctrine? I thought we were the democracy builders for the world? What are those Egyptians trying to do put our military out of business? Glenn Beck and his crowd were right up front cheering the invasion of Iraq to “free” the people but it seems when its done the old fashioned way he is against it. Unfortunately when you let people form their own democracy it sometimes doesn’t come out as you might have wanted.
I’m just a simple guy but it seems to be that the world would be a pretty boring place if governments were all cookie cutters from ours. Not to mention there wouldn’t be anyone for us to borrow money from. First it is China teaching us about capitalism and now Egypt showing us what a democracy is all about. Wouldn’t it be nice if we actually learned a lesson out of all this. But I kind of doubt it.
But what do I know?
With China presently holding more than $1 trillion of our debt the above cartoon is probably more reality than any of us would like to believe. Someday they may just call in all our IOUs. I read an article recently about how the Chinese are now convinced that they have the purest form of capitalism and have very little to learn from the U.S. anymore.
This is kind of like a chicken/egg type thing but it is no wonder our government is drowning it debt. I read someplace where the average citizen now has over $5,000 in credit card debt! That doesn’t include the trillions and trillions of mortgage debt that almost everyone has. Talk about living beyond your means! At least our government borrows at a much lower interest rate 🙂
Someday we may come to our senses. Someday…