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View Diary: All Rise - An Idea to Save US.  Drop in, please. (11 comments)

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  •  You've diaried on this before. (0+ / 0-)

    I think we've traded comments about it before.  I think I understand the goal of your project, but I'm very unclear about how it would work.

    My reading list is already about 14" deep.  Before I put Dr. Fuller on it, would you talk about how his ideas can be implemented?  Not just what the goal of them is or the result would be if they were implemented.  How would they work in the real world?

    You said you run a small business and use these principles.  Can they scale up to larger organizations?  Especially ones big enough that there are many different groups and agendas involved?  Like shareholders, management, bondholders and employees (active and retired)?

    Without understanding how Dr. Fuller's ideas work for real, he reminds me of The Hitchhiker's Guide's description of Jesus: someone who got nailed to tree for saying won't it be great if everyone was nice to each other for a change.

    The beauty of Adam Smith's ideas (and yes, there is beauty in his work) is that the "invisible hand" mostly works even when not everyone is nice.  

    Results count for more than intentions do.

    by VA Classical Liberal on Sun Aug 02, 2009 at 11:49:13 AM PDT

    •  Thanks for the questions, VA. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RosyFinch

      I am working on this.  I think the first step is connecting with our own sense of personal dignity, and then with its recognition begin to be sensitive to how/what is affronting our dignity.  I know, too obvious.

      My ideas for implementing Sufficiency Capitalism, which was modeled on the principles of Fuller's discussions of rankism and dignity (although without the ability to language the dynamics) in my own businesses were as follows:

      1.  I looked at the cost of living in my area, the price I could charge customers, and what I needed to survive.  Don't laugh here, k.  The cost of a roasting chicken at the time was $7.  I vowed to pay at least the cost of a roasting chicken per hour, which was about triple minimum wage back then, 1980.
      1. I asked myself what I would be happily willing to do the work for, if I were the employee, as well as researching the pay other competitors were paying. I wanted the best employees, so I paid more.  And, yes, it was less for me, but before I sought employees, I made sure I made enough on my own first.  As a note, my first employee stayed for the entire 11 year run and  most employees stayed on if I was satisfied with their quality of work.
      1.  I made a commitment to running my business frugally and to stay with it for the long haul.  Until the Savings and Loan debacle tanked the North East economy, we thrived and expanded.  By 1991, I had 4 small, unrelated businesses up and running.  Many employees were cross trained.  I was free to vacation, and work the hours I chose until the banks shut the door to credit for small mfg. businesses.  Like today, the banks stop lending and unemployment in New England exceeded 13%.  Today is deja vu for me.

      How to implement a Dignitarian Business Model, and curtail the tendencies to abuse rank.

      1.  Teach the principles to the players.  Get their commitment to honor the principles.  
      1.  Inspire players to see the merit of this new way of thinking and behaving in order to create a sustainable business model.  
      1.  Install production monitoring systems.  
      1.  Set goals.
      1.  Invite/establish dispute resolution capability.
      1.  Analyze the income requirements of the area the business is located:  Rent/housing costs, etc.  Set up the companies minimum wage based on the income of two people (a married/committed couple or two single people sharing a space) to be able to pay the basic cost of living in the area.
      1.  Review cost-accounting and the cost of service/product the market will bear.  
      1.  Ask:  What will two employees need to produce in order for their production to cost-justify the living wage determined in #6 above.?  Is the product viable based on this determinations.  In my models, wage for production didn't exceed 1/3 of sales price of service/product, with some wiggle room to pay management a higher wage.
      1.  Cross training.  I think this really promotes dignity in the workforce.  There was no territory to protect.  Employees chose their places in the organization.  All were trained to be team leaders, although I found that most didn't want to be managers.  I found that interesting.  For instance, my first employee mentioned above chose to remain at a lower wage than team leaders or managers.  I find that hard to relate to, but learned that all employees approach work differently.
      1.  Thinning.  Of course there were employees that didn't work out within the model.  It took very little time to figure out who wasn't going to fit in.   I helped them move on.

      As another example.  I was a new manager for a large, busy department within a large, international engineering firm.  When I arrived, the department was completely politicized with the 'favorites', turf wars with other departments, no records of production, etc.  I immediately set up a production management system so I could discern who was doing what.  

      Within a couple of months I found out that the "worst" employee was the highest producer and that the "favorite" was a complete, tushy kissing slacker.  I helped the slacker find another company to work for.  I literally scanned the want ads and worked with her to get her out of my new deparment.

      I rushed to the personnel department to let them know they had a potential law suit  on their hands unless they immediately raised the wage of the highest producer who was a minority.  This employee was loyal to me.

      Once a week I had a 'clear the air meeting' with the group where they were free to share any grievances.  This department was a pressure cooker as we were responsible to meet project deadlines for the engineers.  And, yes, I found myself in the the hot seat more than once; however,  we cleared the air, and were free to enjoy the next week free of our grievances.

      I approached the managers of other departments humbly as the newcomer and asked how I could help them.  I invited the management teams of these departments to coffee/danish meetings so we could discuss how my department could be of better service to them, and to learn of ways we could all help each other.  I first enrolled a VP to call the meetings after I mustered the courage to approach the VP and ask for his intervention.  In short, the turf wars ended, and we all ended up having a lot more fun.

      We were a Dignitarian Business Model whose parade was only rained on by a few abusive, probably insecure, and definitely unappreciate engineers who were, coincidently the same engineers who waited until the last minute to drop their project into the To Do bins.  We have all known this type, right?

      Ok, this was just off the top of my head.  I sure there are a lot of shots that can be taken; however, I did want to open the conversation on HOW to implement.

      I hope you will use this as a jumping point instead of an opportunity to shred the concept.  I have seen the joy of working in this environment and have lived the agony of working within an abusive business model.  

      If we want to improve the health of Americans, at the very least, I believe this is the seed of the answer.

      It doesn't have to cost anything to provide all employees with dignity and give them an abuse-free work place.  Sadly, we seem to have done the opposite by worshipping just profit, and allowing those at the top to skim more than their fair share, in my opinion.  This greed from top management is an assault to the employees and the shareholders.

      Poverty does not mean powerless. Unite!

      by War on Error on Sun Aug 02, 2009 at 12:38:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And here is how too many businesses operate (0+ / 0-)

        A dysfunctional family fraught with abuse.

        According to Steven Farmer, the author of Adult Children of Abusive Parents, [1] there are several symptoms of family dysfunction, paraphrased:  

        Denial - Refusal to acknowledge glaring problems.

        Inconsistency and Unpredictability

        Lack of empathy toward family members

        Lack of clear boundaries

        Role reversals

        Closed family system - a socially isolated family that discourages relationships with outsiders)

        Mixed Messages

        Extremes in conflict (either too much or too little fighting between family members)

        This sounds like today's Washington, DC to me.   And we are being abused by them.

        Poverty does not mean powerless. Unite!

        by War on Error on Sun Aug 02, 2009 at 01:03:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I see another problem with family businesses. (0+ / 0-)

          In the state I grew up in (rural Ohio), the more frequent problem is a lack of estate planning.

          There's a local family business.  It was founded 50 years ago and the original founders are still the owners.  They've paid off all, or most, of the capital investment and run a very cost efficient business.

          Then they die.

          If they incorporated the business, everything is OK.  The corporation never dies.  It continues on and if the new management (family or not) is good, the business thrives.

          But too often, they were still operating as a family business.  Now the kids have to pay estate taxes or the prospective new management has to take a loan to buy the business from the estate.

          That screws the cost basis of the business and what was a going concern, employing mumble people in the community, suddenly goes bankraupt.

          That's what I think about when I hear the average Kossack complaining about corporate personhood.  Think what would happen if Kos Media wasn't a corporation and Kos died.

          Results count for more than intentions do.

          by VA Classical Liberal on Sun Aug 02, 2009 at 01:52:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Great points. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VA Classical Liberal

            It's not the corporate set up.  It's the ethical principles that I believe are unproductive towards a sustainable model.

            I'm not in the mood today to bone up on my tax law; however (and from memory), the estate deserves to be paid for the business.  The trustee(s) can cut a deal with the new owners, a percentage of profit for instance until the worth they agree on is paid.  So there are ways around that.

            The estate tax exemption, from memory, is quite generous until the end of 2010, I think.  If a business is worth more than the nearly $2 million exemption, then the now deceased owner must have been brain dead not to have incorporated.  Sorry if that sounds harsh, but really.  

            My businesses netted a lot less but I paid a premium for a good CPA every year and legal input.  It was worth the peace of mind.

            I think some smaller businesses don't incorporate for other reasons.  Taxes for one.  Isn't a corporate tax an added tax?

            Alas, our tax system is such another tangled web written over the past what, 90 years?, by who ever had a chance to cater to their special need like being able to "deduct an institutionalized, dependent cousin" (that got my attention and opened my eyes to the sometimes silliness of our tax code which has only gotten worse over the past 40 years).  I worked for a CPA firm and was forced to take the annual tax class along with the new accountants before we launched into tax season.  I managed the production of the returns.  It was sad, because I knew 1/3 of the shiny new junior accts would be fired just after we finished the flood of returns.

            There is a place in the middle where the free market lovers and haters can meet.  It is this middle place I hope to inspire.  How grandiose is my thinking!  heh

            Poverty does not mean powerless. Unite!

            by War on Error on Sun Aug 02, 2009 at 02:26:34 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Never pay the estate for the business. (0+ / 0-)

              That's just a waste.

              Much better to work out what is going to happen when you die, before you die, and avoid the whole tax issue.  Incorperate, line up new management.  If you need the money for retirement or health care, make it a limited partnership and have them buy in.

              However you do it, let the productive owners keep the business going and profitable.  You are exactly right, our tax laws are so damn screwy that something that should be this easy is too damn hard.

              Plus, people don't like to think about dying.  Even though the death rate is 1 per person.

              Results count for more than intentions do.

              by VA Classical Liberal on Sun Aug 02, 2009 at 03:00:19 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Not here to shred anything. (0+ / 0-)

        Just asking questions and trying to understand.

        In the later half of your reply, sounds like you make a good manager.  I've had good and bad ones, too.

        But I still don't understand your numbered list.  Is this to be implemented inside a company or among all companies in an area/industry?  It sounds more like a way to run a company (and possibly make it a good company people want to work for) and a way to organize an economy.

        Is that our disconnect?  I thought you're was a very broad goal for the macro-economy.  That was definitly Dr. Fuller's point in your link.

        If you're talking about how you like to run a business, that's a different matter.  I mostly agree with you on that point.

        But if you are talking about the broad economy, I disagree.  The broad economy has to work well with all the people we have, with their different motivations, goals and attitudes.

        What if someone doesn't want to be just sufficient?  What if he wants to get really rich?  You may say greed is evil, but what if his efforts create a 100,000 jobs?

        That, again, is the beauty of Smith.  The free market system doesn't depend on the motivations of each person.  It works regardless of whether angels or demons run the show.

        Take your example here:

        I looked at the cost of living in my area, the price I could charge customers, and what I needed to survive.  Don't laugh here, k.  The cost of a roasting chicken at the time was $7.  I vowed to pay at least the cost of a roasting chicken per hour, which was about triple minimum wage back then, 1980.

        I asked myself what I would be happily willing to do the work for, if I were the employee, as well as researching the pay other competitors were paying. I wanted the best employees, so I paid more.  And, yes, it was less for me, but before I sought employees, I made sure I made enough on my own first.  As a note, my first employee stayed for the entire 11 year run and  most employees stayed on if I was satisfied with their quality of work

        Sorry the numbering got screwed up by the cut and paste.

        I applaud your sentiments here, but in the end you ended up with good employees working for a good wage.

        Won't it have been easier to just "bid" in the market for employees and find the price at which the best ones were willing to work?  Despite a lot of rhetoric here, Capitalism has nothing against paying the most productive people a higher wage.  And that is what you were doing.

        If I was trying to reform the system (which I do in my spare time :-)  I'd concentrate on cutting the government's levers of power and let Smith's invisible hand work.  How many times have you seen a bill in a state house or a zoning resolution in a local council that says it only applies to companies operating within 6 miles of a certain point, with between 33 and 36 employees and in the health care field.  Strange how there is only ever one company that meets those restrictions and that compnay's owner is a big doner to the sponsor.

        Results count for more than intentions do.

        by VA Classical Liberal on Sun Aug 02, 2009 at 01:44:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  BTW, the "shred" reference at least shows (0+ / 0-)

          I read your whole reply.

          It's sort of odd having a one-on-one conversation here.  Usually, it's 20 people "shouting" at once.

          Results count for more than intentions do.

          by VA Classical Liberal on Sun Aug 02, 2009 at 01:45:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks, again, VA (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VA Classical Liberal

            I wanted to provide some details.

            I believe the invisible hand will always be compromised by corruption.

            In the world I want to live in, all is on the table.  No secrets.  Just a huge society that must survive; therefore, planned with a place for all, even those who aspire to wealth.

            The Visible Hand makes more sense now that the whole planet may be at risk of shedding it's biggest virus, people.

            But no, at the expense of the survival of our species, the invisible hand has free reign which explains the excitement over such potentially dangerous deals like the US providing nuclear resources to India.  Good Grief!  At the same time we are threatening to bomb Iran into the stone age, or allow Israel the freedom to do so under their sovereign sense of self preservation.

            We live in a classically defined dysfunctional world:

            And here is how too many businesses operate  
            A dysfunctional family fraught with abuse.

            According to Steven Farmer, the author of Adult Children of Abusive Parents, [1] there are several symptoms of family dysfunction, paraphrased:  

            Denial - Refusal to acknowledge glaring problems.

            Inconsistency and Unpredictability

            Lack of empathy toward family members

            Lack of clear boundaries

            Role reversals

            Closed family system - a socially isolated family that discourages relationships with outsiders)

            Mixed Messages

            Extremes in conflict (either too much or too little fighting between family members)

            This sounds like today's Washington, DC to me.   And we are being abused by them.

            Have you watched the movie "The International"

            I was struck by one of the lines:

            "Banks aren't in the money business, they are in the debt business, creating debt slaves"

            A chilling moment.  I have written here many times on how we have created debt slaves out of college students.

            Thanks for chatting.  I don't miss the shouting either.

            I dare to dream of connecting with a team, with access to uber computers, to see how we could run some models that could either prove or disprove my theories; specifically, basing minimum wage on minimum cost of living, and also the efficacy of using some of these principles to build more sustainable business models.

            I approach business first, because once this is transformed, then the same principles can more easily be spread to society at large, in my opinion.

            You might enjoy reading more of Robert W. Fuller's work, btw, if you haven't had the chance already.

            Lastly, I was a happy manager who served two masters:  the work load and the well-being of the players, myself included.

            Poverty does not mean powerless. Unite!

            by War on Error on Sun Aug 02, 2009 at 02:04:17 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks for the conversation. (0+ / 0-)

              It's getting close to dinner time, so I'll close on this.

              Corruption is a constant.  It eats at every system we've invented.  The invisible hand is unique because, when allowed to function, it makes corruption work against itself.

              Results count for more than intentions do.

              by VA Classical Liberal on Sun Aug 02, 2009 at 03:11:46 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

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