Let's Share the Benefits of Capitalism

Capitalism is a fundamentally good economic system, so why not share it with everyone? Yes, that’s right why not make everyone a capitalist? I know 54 percent of Americans  own stocks in publicly traded corporations and the other 46 percent can buy them, but I’m talking about sharing the benefits more equitably.

Why do I think this is a good idea? First, I’ve implemented gains sharing programs and they work to everyone’s benefit. Second, I can read. Obviously you can too so read this from The Huffington Post, “Minimum wage workers haven’t seen their pay go up much in the past 50 years, but that doesn’t mean they’re less valuable to their employers.”

The New America Foundation report adds to the growing body of evidence that workers are getting squeezed while companies profit skyrocket.

“The minimum wage would be $21.72 an hour if it kept pace with increases in worker productivity, according to a March study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Last quarter, hourly pay for non-farm workers saw the biggest drop since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started keeping track in 1947, even as corporate profits have soared to a record.”

Then there was that article I wrote a few weeks back about how 70 percent of American employees are emotionally disconnected from their work. And nearly one in five hates work so much they sabotage their employers.

Newton gave us the reason for this one: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. So it’s no surprise to me that workers aren’t too enamored with their employers. Would you be if you got 20 hours of work a week at $8 an hour and no benefits?

Yes and in the truest form of capitalist thinking, if you don’t like it, you can quit and start your own business. At $8 an hour you’ve probably stashed enough to fund your own start up. But if not, borrow the money from a local banker, who’s just waiting for you to show up and ask.  Or maybe borrow from your retired parents who live on their social security.

Well I guess I could argue that if corporations keep more of their money, they will re-invest it and create more jobs. Yes, I could but I’d be brain-dead to make that argument in the face of the facts. They don’t need to add jobs because we’re caught in a vicious cycle created by not sharing the benefits of productivity improvements, which produces fewer working people with lower wages = less money being spent in the economy = less demand for products and services = fewer jobs = fewer working people.

This is not brain surgery. A worker making $8 an hour doesn’t spend as much as he would if his wages had kept pace with his own productivity improvements, which today would be $21.72 an hour.

Where did the benefits of that productivity gain go? Not back into job creation in America. Not shared with those who helped produce it. Not back into creating a healthy economy. Not to help pay for the many taxpayer provided public services corporations take for granted. Not even to help defray the taxpayer provided subsidies and the lost revenue from their tax loopholes.

No, they go into the pockets of the few.

I couldn’t write about low wages without mentioning Walmart, the low-wage king of retail, who employs 10 percent of the people in the industry. From the Daily Beast, “The biggest problem in the economy is the refusal of companies, now in the fifth year of this expansion, to boost wages broadly. The rich are continuing to do well. But the typical worker just isn’t getting a meaningful wage. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, average hourly earnings for workers in the private sector have risen by a scant 1.9 percent in the past 12 months. Quarter after quarter, corporate America collectively puts up big profits, buys back shares, rewards executives handsomely, pays dividends—and then effectively freezes wages. And then executives at stores that cater to the bottom half of the income ladder wonder why nobody shows up. “Where are all the consumers?” read a plaintive email from a Walmart executive earlier this year. “And where is all their money?”

I doubt they have it tied up in hedge funds.

Robert De Filippis

Author: The Blue Route