On Equality

Political equality, the right to vote every two years or whine at a council meeting is not true equality. True equality requires each person having control over the means to produce, distribute, and sell ones output on an independent basis. What this means is that Americans have been chasing a concept that has been successfully eluding them since right after the Civil War as the country became industrialized. The real issue is how to get Americans to stop looking at production with a balkanized mindset and incorporate into our mindsets the ownership of the production process. Any other approach to equality is a frustrating fairy tale …

About Alton Drew

Alton Drew brings a straight forward and insightful brand of political market intelligence. Alton Drew graduated from the Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science in economics and political science (1984); a Master of Public Administration (1993); and a Juris Doctor (1999). You can also follow Alton Drew on Twitter @altondrew.
This entry was posted in capital, Economy, Elections 2012, Equality, Political Economy and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to On Equality

  1. Ken Ciszewski says:

    True equality requires each person having control over the means to produce, distribute, and sell ones output on an independent basis.”

    I’m reading this statement, and trying to understand it in day-to-day operational terms.

    Does it mean we should all be entrepreneurs? I addressed that issue previously in another post. Suffice to say, that isn’t workable in the real world. Businesses need owners/leaders and workers. Each group has its roll in the production process.

    Does it mean we should all be independent contractors? In the USA, that term has many legal and practical ramifications Legally, an independent contractor can be told what the result of his contract must be, but he cannot be micro-managed moment to moment, hour to hour, day to day, because if he is, he becomes an employee, and the person who contracted him becomes his employer, who is now responsible for tax withholding, matching Social Security contributions, etc. A true independent contractor pays his own social security matching and is responsible for paying his tax withholding. Usually, an independent contractor gets no “benefits”–health care, life insurance, etc, where often an employee does. Further, independent contractors don’t have the same rights in termination under the law that employees do (age discrimination considerations, wrongful termination considerations, etc.). I could see where businesses might prefer independent contractors to employees. But even then, the independent contractors have only limited control over the means to produce, distribute, and sell their output on an independent basis.

    Maybe that’s not the path that as intended by the comment. Maybe it was intended in the spirit of Tom Peters, the 1990’s business guru who wrote “In Search of Excellence”, “A Passion for Excellence”, and “Thriving on Chaos”, among other works. Peters was of the opinion that we are all “independent contractors” in the sense that the best recommendation for our next project or position is how well we did on the last one–this determines our long term “employability”.

    Consider “…incorporate into our mindsets the ownership of the production process…” Tom Peters would like this idea, because it emphasizes the fact that each of us is responsible to be productive, do a great job, and therefore continue to be in demand.

    I remember when one of the mantras of business was to get every employee to have an “ownership mentality”–to think like an owner, who has all of his “skin in the game. The idea was that as a result employees would work harder, make active, informed, and thus better decisions about how to be productive and satisfy customers, and thus make the business more successful.

    It seems like a good idea. The only potential problem with it is that, in most businesses, employees are not actual owners. If they are stockholders then they are, but that’s not commonly the case, and so even if they think like an owner, their rewards will not be the same as the rewards accrued by the actual business owner if the business is successful. Employees get a paycheck, while the owner of a business gets usually some salary plus profit. True, some employees get bonuses, but owners generally do much better than employees financially if the business is successful, because profit is where it’s at.

    And of course, many owners work 24 by 7 by 365 to make a profit. Not every employee wants to do that for a salary plus a bonus, which together won’t come near to what the owner is getting.

    I have personal knowledge of employees who earned more than the owners of the businesses for which they worked due to hard work and the bonus/incentive plan that was set up for them. In some cases, the owners got rid of the employees, demoted the employees to reduce the employees’ future compensation, or failed to pay the bonus!

    Maybe the reason “…Americans [look at] production with a balkanized mindset…” because they realize that their interests, and the interests of business owners are not completely the same. Most workers want a job that pays the bills with something left over to make life better. Owners want to have employees produce as much as possible for as little cost as possible–free would really be great! Workers understand that their reward is limited no matter how hard they work, because they don’t actually own the means to produce, distribute, and sell ones output on an independent basis. Why have that mentality, when it’s not true, and its benefits to the worker or limited anyway? Sure, it’s a possible motivational tool for those who buy into it, as long as they don’t mind limited reward. And certainly, every worker should do his best to do a great job for his customer and/or employer.

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