Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Top Small Workplaces of 2008 Are All Democratic

All the 15 businesses of the Wall Street Journal's Top Small Workplaces 2008 are proactively transparent, 86% share a large portion of profits with employees, all of the businesses de-centralize and limit managerial power, and all of the businesses inspire a euphoric purpose greater than themselves.

All of the 15 Top Small Workplaces are proactively transparent. At Integrated Project Management Co., "each employee sits down for a weekly one-on-one meeting with his or her manager in which they discuss work progress, the employee's performance, and the skills that need improvement." At Jump Associates LLC, "every morning, all employees meet for a "scrum" -- a short get-together where they're briefed on company news." And, the office is laid out so that "all employees, including senior management, sit out in the open in "neighborhoods" of five or six workers." At Lundberg Family Farms, the President hosts a monthly "Meet the CEO" event "where a small group of seven or eight employees chats with him to provide feedback and discuss any concerns." New Belgium Brewing Co., also holds monthly meetings "where it walks employees through the company's financial statements." And finally, at Rainforest Alliance, "employees can do stints in foreign offices to learn more about the organization and work on the front lines."

86% of the Top Small Workplaces share a large portion of profits with employees, and five of these businesses are 100% employee owned. This is especially impressive because employee owned businesses make up only one per cent of all American companies.

All of the Top Small Workplaces de-centralize and limit managerial power. At ATA Engineering Inc., "At least eight to 10 ATA employees are involved in interviewing every job candidate. If one employee objects to the hire, the candidate may not be offered a job unless that employee changes his or her mind." Also, employees "can pursue projects that s/he feels are good for the company or that s/he is personally interested in without needing more than one person's approval." At J.A. Frate Inc., during the only layoffs in 37-years, "the board of directors asked employees to vote on taking a 10% pay cut, promising to reinstate their normal wages after three months. The majority of the employees voted for the cut and all the laid-off employees were later rehired. At Landscape Forms Inc., "if the whole team agrees on one employee's idea, it can be implemented -- without approval from senior management." Rainforest Alliance "gives many junior employees the chance to spearhead research and other initiatives for the organization, later promoting them to oversee those initiatives." And finally, the President of Redwoods Group Inc. caps his own salary at 10 times that of the lowest-paid employee.

All of the Top Small Workplaces inspire a euphoric purpose greater than themselves. The President of ATA Engineering Inc., was "nominated for a local "Entrepreneur of the Year" award. But he turned down the honor, feeling he shouldn't take all the credit for the company's success." At Decagon Devices Inc., "employees take turns bringing home-cooked meals to work for their colleagues." At Jump Associates LLC, "a coach stops in the office a few days a month to help employees with any issue, such as improving their communications or resolving conflicts with a colleague." At King Arthur Flour Co., "even employees who don't work directly with flour are encouraged to learn about baking." At New Belgium Brewing Co., employees are enthusiastic about supporting the company's environmental cause. "Each New Belgium employee is given a cruiser bike," and each year they "dress in costumes and lead local residents on a bike tour." And, "an on-site recycling center allows employees to recycle goods." And finally, At Redwoods Group Inc., "each full-time employee is required to do at least 40 hours of volunteer work annually for nonprofits of their choosing -- on company time." In addition, the company "donates up to $300 annually per employee to charities where employees volunteer their own time."

These companies empower their employees by being proactively transparent, offering ownership, decentralizing and limiting power, and inspiring a euphoric purpose greater than themselves. Democracy is not just giving people a voice. Democracy empowers the voices that people already have.

(Quotes taken from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122347733961315417.html)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Oligarchical Businesses Breed Oligarchical Governments

Oligarchical corporations brought Mussolini and Hitler to power. In fact, oligarchical corporations have assisted nearly every dictator in his rise to power. In the US, oligarchical corporations plotted to bring a Fascist dictator to power in the United States during the Great Depression.

Major General Smedley D. Butler overturned the plot by leaders of JPMorgan, GM, US Steel, and DuPont to overthrow Franklin Delano Roosevelt and install General Smedley Butler as a fascist dictator in order to re-establish 'order' and 'efficiency' to the US economy.

General Smedley's accusations were backed up by several testimonies and were evaluated by The Committee on Un-American Activities of the House of Representatives.

The congressional committee determined, "In the last few weeks of the committee's official life it received evidence showing that certain persons had made an attempt to establish a fascist government in this country...There is no question that these attempts were discussed, were planned, and might have been placed in execution when and if the financial backers deemed it expedient." (Public Hearings Before the Special Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Seventy-third Congress, Second Session, at Washington, D.C. p.8-114 D.C. 6 II)

(Facts taken from History Channel's: The Plot to Overthrow FDR)

In the aftermath, however, there was no attempt to pursue legal or criminal actions against any of the prominent individuals implicated by General Smedley Butler.

Monday, December 29, 2008

CEO Joe Is Worth 344 Times More than Average Joe

Is it possible for someone's work to be worth 866 times more than another person's or are oligarchical corporations exploiting American workers? The average Fortune 500 CEO makes 866 times more money than a minimum wage employee.

Exploitation is no longer an "overseas" occurrence. "Last year, average CEO pay rose 2.6 percent to $10,544,470, according to an Associated Press survey of S&P 500 firms. That’s 344 times the pay of an average American worker. The gap between CEO's and minimum wage workers runs even wider. In 2007, CEO's averaged 866 times as much as minimum wage employees." (Taken from http://www.faireconomy.org/files/executive_excess_2008.pdf)

"There has been a massive shift of income from the bottom and middle to the top. The richest 1% of Americans has increased their share of the nation’s income to a higher level than any year since 1928—the eve of the Great Depression." (Taken from http://www.letjusticeroll.org/pdfs/Why10in2010.pdf)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Oligarchical Corporations Are Psychopathic "Persons"

According to the fourteenth amendment of the United States constitution, corporations have the equal right to life, liberty, or property that you and I have. Don't believe me? Read it for yourself...

"14: All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws..."

If you're still not convinced that the fourteenth amendment protects corporations' right to life, liberty, or property, don’t worry…neither am I. Originally, the fourteenth amendment was made to protect the rights of newly freed slaves after the end of the civil war. After the industrial revolution, however, some very clever lawyers convinced the Supreme Court that the fourteenth amendment protects corporations also.

Why is this a problem? Prior to this Supreme Court ruling, corporations had to prove that they served the public interest to get a charter and to maintain a charter. A corporation with the same rights as a living, breathing person only has to serve its own good. This is a problem because "corporations have no soul to be saved and no body to incarcerate." (Baron Thurlow)

I don't intend to label the leaders or citizens of oligarchical corporations as immoral or unethical anymore than I would label a slaveholder as immoral and unethical. In his personal life, a slaveholder may have been a kind and gentle person to children, the elderly, and even his own slaves. The institution however is most obviously unethical and immoral, and it breeds immoral and unethical practices.

Conversely, I cannot label the leaders or citizens of a church as moral or ethical. The only conclusion that I can deduce is that churches breed moral and ethical practices because of their structure and what they stand for.

So, if we must label a corporation as a person, then what kind of "person" is he? To answer this question, we must find what is common among all corporations; the answer is that all corporations are legally bound to place the financial interests of their owners above competing interests. Therefore, a corporation is a "person" that lives, first and foremost, to make money. And history shows us that the more oligarchical and less democratic a corporation is run, the more a corporation will attempt to pass off his own obligations and costs to an unaware or uncaring public--in order to make more money. Unmet obligations and unpaid costs result in environmental exploitation, human exploitation, slavery, the sale of harmful products, sweatshops, negligence resulting in employee deaths and injuries, and job outsourcing. Here are a few specific examples of costs that corporations unsuccessfully passed on to the public during the 1990's: (1) Exxon pled guilty to criminal charges related to the Valdez oil spill and paid $125 million (2) GE was guilty of defrauding the federal government and paid $9.5 million (3) Chevron was guilty of environmental violations and paid $6.5 million (4) Mitsubishi was guilty of anti-trust violations and paid $1.8 million (5) IBM was guilty of illegal exports and paid $8.5 million (6) Pfizer was guilty of anti-trust violations and paid $20 million (7) Odwalla was found guilty of food and drug violations and paid $1.5 million (8) Sears was guilty of financial fraud and paid $60 million. (If you want to read about 1,000's of more violations visit http://www.multinationalmonitor.org/)

In psychiatry there is a name for this kind of person that lack's moral and ethical intentions. I will give you the qualifiers of this psychiatric condition and you give me the diagnosis:

(1) Callous unconcern for the feelings of others
(2) Incapacity to maintain enduring relationships
(3) Reckless disregard for the safety of others
(4) Deceitfulness: repeated lying and conning others for profit
(5) Incapacity to experience guilt
(6) Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors

Give up? These are the psychiatric qualifiers of a psychopathic individual. What does this lead us to conclude about our decision to give corporations the same status as "persons"? Probably a conclusion similar to the one that Doctor Frankenstein came to after he created his own imitation of a "person".

(Information taken from the documentary The Corporation)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Democratic Business Can Save Our Economy

We are on the verge of the second worst (if not the worst) economic times in the history of our country. The best suited organizations to weather these times will be democratic organizations.

Suppose that Company A and Company B each have 3000 employees. Company A's citizens own 70% of the company. Company B is owned by the founder and two investment firms. Company A only has three layers of management and most of the company decisions are made by the citizens themselves. Company B has eight layers of management and the only time anyone knows about company decisions is when they read about them in the weekly memo.

What will happen when times become tough in the industry? Which company's citizens will take a voluntary pay cut? Which company will increase our nation's unemployment rate? Which company's citizens will work through the night for an entire month to make sure the company stays afloat? and Which company will survive?

You can be assured that many sacrifices will be required of American citizens during the coming years. A lot of us will be tested to our limits. If our businesses, communities, and country are important enough to us we will decide to endure. Our collective decisions will determine the future of our country.

Cisco Is Democratizing

You may know Cisco from their routers and switches that you can buy at most computer/technology stores, but now you may come to know them by their new, "revolutionary" business model.

Cisco is democratizing. According to legendary CEO of Cisco (and staunch republican), John Chambers, "The goal is to spread the company's leadership and decision making far wider than any big company has attempted before, to working groups that currently involve 500 executives.” In other words, Cisco is giving the decision making power of its executives back to its citizens. Formerly, “all decisions came to the top 10 people in the company” and the orders were sent back down from there.

Secondly, Cisco is encouraging an ownership mentality of its citizens by initiating a “new financial incentive system” that is causing “executives to work together like never before.”

Thirdly, "Cisco citizens are blogging, vlogging, and virtualizing, using social-networking tools that they've made themselves and that, in many cases, far exceed the capabilities of the commercially available wikis, YouTubes, and Facebooks created by the kids up the road in Palo Alto."

What is the result of all these “revolutionary” changes? John Chambers is most proud of Cisco’s ability to execute their collective decisions. Chambers noted, "The boards and councils have been able to innovate with tremendous speed." "One week to get a [business] plan that used to take six months!"

Cisco is democratizing our world. As a result of Cisco’s success, Cisco is sharing detailed case studies of their experiences and best practices with companies like AT&T, General Electric, and Procter & Gamble, and with customers in emerging markets from Russia and China to Mexico and Brazil. "We did it first ourselves; now we teach our customers. And the neat thing about it is that they'll use our technology to do it."”

(quotes taken from Fast Company’s article, How Cisco's CEO John Chambers is Turning the Tech Giant Socialist)

Friday, December 19, 2008

If Democratic Businesses Are More Profitable, Why Isn't Every Business Democratizing?

If Democratic Businesses Are More Profitable, Why Isn't Every Business Democratizing? Ask GE that question. Their most profitable plant is run democratically and they plan to run all future plants democratically; yet, they are not converting any of their current business to become more democratic.

I would guess that management doesn't make the change to democracy because managers in democratic businesses do not take as great a percentage of the profits and must decentralize the power.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Democracy is Common Sense, Not Political, Cont.

Just think if King Arthur had established the Knights of the Rectangular Table. Do you think anyone would remember them? Do you think they would have been so successful?

(if you aren't familiar with the story, the table was round to signify that everyone had the same power in the group. No one could sit at the head of the table because there was none.)

Friday, December 12, 2008

How Do You Define Democracy?

Every day I talk to at least one person about democratic business, usually for the first time, and most everyone I talk to has the first impression that democratic business means that employees vote. While voting may be involved, it does not define a democracy. A truly democratic business is defined by these four elements:

(1) The company is proactively transparent. If the average employee is expected to make critical decisions for the company the average employee must have access to the most critical information. Examples of transparency include (a) the manager's cubicle is placed in the middle of the action like at GE/Durham (b) every employee has access to daily company financials like at Linden Lab (c) employees switch jobs for a day like at Southwest airlines (d) everyone knows how much everyone else makes in the organization like at Semco (e) each employee sits down for a weekly one-on-one meeting with his/her manager like at IPM Co.

(2) Everyone has ownership in the company. I am referring to literal ownership of shares in the company and also ownership of work and tasks. Examples of ownership of work include (a) each team is given a due date for when their work is to be finished and the team decides how they will get it done like at GE/Durham.

(3) The companies management is limited. This means that there are few layers of management and that power is decentralized. Examples of limited management include (a) the company only has one, two, or three layers of management even though there are hundreds or thousands of employees like at GE/Durham (b) Employees, not managers, hire and fire employees like at Semco.

(4) The company's purpose inspires a euphoric feeling. In all democratic businesses there is a sense among everyone in the company that they are all contributing to something bigger than themselves and bigger than profits.

If I were to give a definition of a democratic business, it would be this...

A democratic business is a business that encourages an ownership mentality from bottom to top.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

No Longer As Strangers on Earth Need We Roam



"For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops."

Gone are the days when controlling a country was as simple as putting up walls. Gone are the days when Washington D.C. exclusively decided foreign policy. Gone are the days when the people of other countries seemed like strangers. Gone are the days when corporations could commit atrocities in other countries without our hearing about it back home.

Here are the days when people all over the world are realizing that we are all appendages of the same body. If we cut an arm, we all bleed. If we cut an eye, we all go blind. Here are the days when the people, through information, are democratizing the world, and not the politicians.

Be part of the movement! Pass the word along! and Merry Christmas!

The People Are Democratizing the World and Not the Politicians

Friday, December 5, 2008

Democracy Is Common Sense, Not Political

True democracy is not a political platform. Democracy is still just as much common sense as when Thomas Payne wrote the historic pamphlet, Common Sense, that inspired the American Revolution.

Let's imagine, for all intensive purposes, that it became known that you can make money by running long distances. Now suppose that to make this money you organized two groups.

The first group was told to come in at 6:00 AM and leave at 9:00 AM and they had to ask when they wanted to go to the bathroom. In addition, they were told that all of the profit would be managed by someone that would be brought in. He would keep track of the money and pay everyone exactly the same (so that everything was fair) and he would keep the rest of the money for himself. Also, he would make sure that they clocked in at exactly 6:00 AM and left no earlier than 9:00 AM. He would also make sure they were all running fast enough and not cutting corners. You can probably see where this is going.

The second group decided they would run 3 hours a day. Together they decided to run in groups of at least 7 to encourage team work and safety. Group leaders, hirings, and firings were all decided by secret votes of the group members. In addition, each person chose his/her own salary based on needs and desires and obviously...peer pressure.

Which group do you think would create the biggest profits? Which group would have the happiest runners? Which group would be more creative and innovative?

You may also be thinking what I thought the first time I heard of the idea...If everyone chooses their own salary, wouldn't everyone choose the highest salary they could get and work the least they can? The truth is, a company called Semco, which has over 5,000 employees, revenues of more than $1 Billion, and is one of the fastest growing companies in Brazil does exactly this. Ricardo Semler's (CEO of Semco) employees choose their own wages and work whenever they want to. Wouldn't you like to have that kind of boss? What is his secret? The secret is that he doesn't act like a boss. Ricardo Semler doesn't even have the power to fire an employee. There are only three levels of management and he treats his employees like adults and not adolescents. Novel idea? No...common sense.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

People Are Honest 85% of the Time

While striving for perfection, we may have lost our greatest strategic advantage; i.e., trust.

Paul Feldman understood the advantage of trusting others when he set up a bagel business. Feldman started his bagel days "as a casual gesture: a boss treating his employees whenever they won a research contract. Then he made it a habit. Every Friday, he would bring in some bagels, a serrated knife, and cream cheese. When employees from neighbouring floors heard about he bagels, they wanted some too. Eventually he was bringing in 15 dozen bagels a week. In order to recoup his costs, he set out a cash basket and a sign with the suggested price. His collection rate was about 95 per cent."

"In 1984, when his research institute fell under new management, Feldman took a look at his career and grimaced. He decided to quit his job and sell bagels. Driving around the office parks that encircle Washington, he solicited customers with a simple pitch: early in the morning, he would deliver some bagels and a cash basket to a company’s snack room; he would return before lunch to pick up the money and the leftovers. It was an honour-system commerce scheme, and it worked. Within a few years, Feldman was delivering 8,400 bagels a week to 140 companies and earning as much as he had made as a research analyst."

"When he started his business, he expected a 95 per cent payment rate, based on the experience at his own office. But just as crime tends to be low on a street where a police car is parked, the 95 per cent rate was artificially high: Feldman’s presence had deterred theft. Not only that, but those bagel eaters knew the provider and had feelings (presumably good ones) about him."

"He came to consider a company “honest” if its payment rate was above 90 per cent. He considered a rate between 80 and 90 per cent “annoying but tolerable”. If a company habitually paid below 80 per cent, Feldman might post a hectoring note, like this one: “The cost of bagels has gone up dramatically since the beginning of the year. Unfortunately, the number of bagels that disappear without being paid for has also gone up. Don’t let that continue. I don’t imagine that you would teach your children to cheat, so why do it yourselves?”

Despite losses from theft, not only did Feldman save money by not setting up a bureaucratic system to enforce payment, he appealed to people's most positive, uniting characteristics of trust and integrity.

Feldman scrupulously collected and analyzed data that led to his discovery of two very interesting things that say a lot about people's innate desire to unite and trust one another: (1) offices were more honest when employees like their bosses and their work (2) after 9/11, the theft rate immediately dropped 15% and stayed there.

Most large companies spend thousands of hours and millions of dollars exorting people to subscribe to a "culture" so as to keep everyone in line and increase the bottom line.

What if you created a corporate structure based on the "golden rule", unity, and trust; i.e., democracy? (1) workers would be socially incentivized to be honest, and (2) a small bureaucracy would save a lot of money.

No wonder our founding fathers decided to create a democratic government.

(Quotations from Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Democratic business translates to saving lives!

The following is an evaluation of two companies in the same town in one of the most dangerous industries in the U.S.--sewer and water pipe manufacturing.

Guess which one is run democratically and which one is not:

J.R. McWane founded McWane Co. in 1921. John Eagan founded ACIPCO in 1905. McWane's employee turn-over rate is near 100% per year. ACIPCOs turn-over is less than half a percent per year. To deal with high turnover rates, McWane hires ex-convicts. Contrastingly, 10,000 people recently applied for 100 positions at ACIPCO. McWane's management style is called "disciplined management practices". ACIPCOs management style is simply stated, "What if it applied to me? Is it fair?" Over the past seven years, nine McWane employees have been killed and atleast 4,600 have been injured. ACIPCO ranks sixth on Fortune's 100 best companies to work for. McWane's production philosophy is "REDUCE MAN HOURS PER TON". ACIPCOs production philosophy is, "If we can't do it safely, we don't do it." McWane was sited for more than 400 safety violations between 1995 & 2000. ACIPCO was sited 10 times. The McWane family is one of the richest and most secretive families in the South. Collectively the employees of ACIPCO own the entire ACIPCO company.

In 1920, when John Eagan announced that ACIPCO would operate on "The Golden Rule", the president of the company quit--his name was J.R. McWane.

(Statistics taken from PBS Frontline: Dangerous Business)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thursday, November 27, 2008

All of You Agree That We Do Not Live In The Democracy Our Founders Envisioned.

The voting period for my poll has expired and here are the results:

78% of you voted that our only chance to return to the democracy that our founders envisioned is "if we make some huge changes". Not one person voted that this is the democracy that the founders envisioned.

I'm interested to know, from all of you, what kinds of changes need to be made for our country to be more democratic. Please post a comment.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A $6 Billion U.S. Company Turns Democratic!

Take DaVita. Today, the El Segundo, Calif., company is the largest independent provider of dialysis services in the United States, with more than 30,000 employees and annual sales of nearly $6 billion.

But back in 1999, the situation was bleak: the company was functionally bankrupt, under investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, being sued by shareholders, and the majority of senior executives had left. Its new CEO, Kent Thiry, understood that changing course meant embracing a fresh, democratic approach. So he and his team implemented the following:

“Town Hall” meetings to share information about new programs, spotlight achievements, and answer questions. Quarterly “Voice of the Village” meetings allow “teammates” the opportunity to ask the CEO and senior leadership any questions they want.

Opportunities for all employees to engage in democratic decision-making through voting on a range of issues including the renaming of the company, its core values, job titles, logos, and new initiatives.

Annual forums at which DaVita’s CEO and COO publicly share their personal successes and failures in front of more than 2,000 colleagues.

Decentralization that lets each of its 1,300 clinics be its own “boss.”

As a result, DaVita dramatically reduced its turnover rate, stimulated organic growth above the industry average, and became the industry leader. Net operating revenue grew from $1.45 billion in 1999 to $5.26 billion in 2007. And over the past five years, DaVita’s stock has soared 279 percent, while the S&P 500 Index has returned 52 percent.

“We feel our approach adds more value to the American health system, not just in savings but also in transparency and accountability,” says Mr. Thiry. “I firmly believe that every company can be a democratic community. And I know it’s worth it!”

His statement underscores the potential of democracy to transform not only corporations but the millions of lives they affect. That, in turn, raises a pressing question: Do big businesses have a responsibility to be organized democratically because of the power they wield?

(Taken From: Even Big Companies Are Embracing a Democratic Style -- Traci Fenton)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Corporations Evade $250 to $300 Billion in Taxes Per Year

From 1950 to 2000, corporations contributed an average of 17% of the U.S. tax revenue. Currently corporations contribute 7% of the U.S. tax revenue.

Why are corporations paying less taxes? In the last 7 years a very sophisticated industry of selling "tax shelters" has become big business for bankers and accountants. What is a "tax shelter" and how does it help corporations steal? A simplified explanation goes something like this:

Corporation A makes $100 Million in profit during 2008. A consulting group like KPMG calls up Corporation A and says, "we can save you $7 Million in taxes if you pay us $1 Million." Corporation A agrees. KPMG then uses $20 Million from Corporation A to lease land in China from Corporation B (a friend of KPMG). Corporation B then leases the land back to Corporation A for $20 Million.

In the end, Corporation A no longer has profits of $100 Million. Instead they have profits of $80 Million, a lease from Corporation B for $20 Million, a lease to Corporation B for $20 Million, and taxes (at 35% tax rate) of $28 Million ($35 Million - $7 Million).

How do corporations get away with this? The truth is, the IRS is too underfunded and lacking in resources to prosecute corporations that evade taxes. The result has been that corporations are evading between $250 & $300 Billion in tax dollars a year.

How does this effect you or I? Have you ever bought food with your coworkers and someone doesn't pay? Well, in this case, your coworkers are American Corporations and since they won't pay, you and I pay 15% more in taxes every year. How much did Corporate America steal from you this year?

(statistics from PBS Frontline: Tax Me if You Can)

Friday, November 21, 2008

My Email to President Obama

President Obama is taking emails from everyone and anyone who has an idea. I sent him an email about democratic businesses. Here is what I said...

President Obama,

I have to say. I feel a renewed sense of energy and motivation since you have been elected that we, the people, might be listened to a bit more than in recent years.

I have an idea that I have developed from hundreds of hours of research. Please tell me what you think...

I believe that a tax cut should be given to "Democratic Businesses". Companies like Great Harvest, Da Vita, Southwest, and Linden Labs--to name a few. A tax cut will inspire more democratic businesses to be started or made from currently non-democratic companies. Democratic companies are designed to benefit all the employees and not just employees at the top.

A tax cut for democratic companies would save and make the government billions of dollars.

Employees of democratic businesses have more of a say concerning compensation, which means they get better retirement plans. An expert in a PBS Frontline Documentary called "Inside United's Bankruptcy" stated that corporations are currently underpaying their employee's pension plans by $450 Billion. As you may know the P.B.G.C. is already currently in a $23 Billion debt. The government can't afford to guarantee all these and future pension plans.

Employees of democratic businesses are able to afford health care. Wal-Mart and other non-democratic companies have cost the government billions of dollars by encouraging employees to apply for government health care instead of making it affordable to their employees.

Employees of democratic businesses are more engaged and productive. In 2006, Gallup estimated that disengaged employees cost the American economy $350 Billion per year. When employees feel a sense of ownership in their companies they are more engaged. Employees in democratic businesses are engaged because employees feel valued and motivated instead of coerced and fearful.

While democratic businesses expand into other countries, they never outsource jobs to other countries. Billions of dollars are lost to our economy when jobs are outsourced. In a democratic business, every single employee is valued and jobs are not sent overseas.

During the hundreds of hours of my own research on democratic organizations, I have discovered the website of an organization called WorldBlu. WorldBlu may be able to help you determine which companies get a democratic tax cut and which ones do not. Over the last ten years, they have developed a "score card to evaluate an organization based on ten principles of organizational democracy such as the level of transparency, accountability, decentralization, and choice practiced throughout the organization." (http://www.worldblu.com/scorecard/question1.php). I have never even talked to or emailed this organization before, so I don't know if they can help. Still, it is good to know that you don't have to start from scratch to develop a way to determine which companies qualify for a democratic tax cut.

Thank you for listening to me and everyone else who emails you.

May God bless you in your presidency,

David Sheffield

Thursday, November 20, 2008

PBS Reports: Corporations Are Withholding $450 Billion in Pensions!

As you have seen in the news, chapter eleven banktrupcy has become very popular. In the recent past, it has become a strategic tool for companies, instead of a last resort. As a result, the P.B.G.C., the government agency that insures pension plans (i.e., 401Ks, traditional IRAs, etc.) that have been dumped to save a company from bankruptcy, is currently in a $23 Billion debt. It is estimated that of all corporate pension plans in the U.S., $450 Billion of your money is currently underpayed by corporations. The more businesses that get close to bankruptcy in the coming months and years will add to the P.B.G.C.'s debt. We are looking at another economic crisis and who will pay? The taxpayer.

In addition, (prior to the economic meltdown) those workers currently poised to retire only have enough money to live for seven to eight years in retirement. The average worker poised to retire is now deciding between working for the rest of her/his life to maintain a middle-class lifestyle or going on social security after a few years when the funds run out. While corporate elite salaries are getting larger and larger, corporations are passing off more and more of their expenses to the government. Who are these corporations actually serving?

(statistics from PBS Frontline: Inside United's Bankruptcy)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Democratic Businesses = No Government Health Care

In a perfect world, all businesses would be democratic, health care would be affordable for everyone, and Michael Jackson would still live in Neverland.

If all businesses were democratic, companies would exist, first, to serve all of their employees.

If all companies existed, first, to serve all of their employees, all employees could afford health insurance.

Democratizing American corporations is the better alternative to politicizing the health care industry.

How do we democratize businesses? We petition the government to give a tax cut to all businesses that are run democratically, whether they be start-up businesses or former oligarchical businesses.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Do Businesses in America Serve Those in the Businesses or Those at the Top of the Businesses?

Interesting to note...The last time the economic divide was any wider was during the Industrial Revolution when oligarchical corporations controlled government interests.

Friday, November 14, 2008

What is important to Wal-Mart?

"If we keep our prices low and raise our average wage substantially, we would, in fact, decrease our profitability disproporationately and we would sacrifice a healthy chunk of what it is that our shareholders expect from us." -- Lee Scott [current President and Chief Executive Officer at the Wal-Mart's 2005 annual shareholder's meeting] (Wal-Mart has the 25th largest economy in the world)

The sadest thing is that because of my business education, my first instinct is still to defend this statement.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Is it time to Rethink the Corporate Structure?

Warning! Do not buy gift cards at these stores! and Use your gift cards before it's too late!

If you know of other failing businesses, please leave a comment.

Shoe Pavilion -- Closing all stores
Circuit City -- Closing all stores
Anne Taylor -- Closing 117 stores
Eddie Bauer -- Closing 29 stores by year end
Cache Clothing -- Closing 20-23 stores
Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug, Catherines -- Closing 150 stores
Tallbots, J. Jill -- Closing 100 stores
Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic -- Closing 85 stores
Footlocker -- Closing 140 stores
Wickes Furniture -- Closing all stores
Levitz, Bombay -- Closing all stores
Zales, Piercing Pagoda -- Closing 105 stores
Home Depot -- Closing 15 stores
CompUSA -- Closed all stores
Macy's -- Closing 9 stores
Movie Gallery, Hollywood Video -- Closing 920 stores
Pacific Sunwear -- Closing 150 demo stores
Pep Boys -- Closing 33 stores
Sprint, Nextel -- Closing 125 stores
J.C. Penney -- Closing some stores
Lowe's -- Closing some stores
Office Depot -- Closing some stores
Ethan Allen -- Closing 12 stores
Wilson's the Leather Experts -- Closing 158 stores
Sharper Image -- Closing 90 stores
KB Toys -- Closing 356 stores
Dillard's -- Closing another 6 stores

--Summary of email. Original email from Vivian L. Brewer of Washington Mutual Bank--

Southwest Airlines Statistics

Southwest Airlines Statistics

(1) The only airline to create an employee profit-sharing plan, simply, because they thought it was the right thing to do.

(2) The only airline to post profits for 35 consecutive years (going on 36).

(3) Since inception, Southwest Airlines has averaged a 26% (compounded yearly) return on investment. That is almost unheard of!

I don't want to focus on money when it comes to democratic businesses, but I do want to emphasize the viability of democratic businesses.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The World's Top 100 Economies

Of the world's top 100 economies, 51 were corporations in the year 2000. If you subtract the money made by these corporations from the national GDPs, I wonder if you would even find one country in the top 10.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Tide of Democracy

After hundreds of hours (literally) of research, I have decided the direction of my website and, partly, my life. I want to organize and create a democratic business.

Sounds like wishful thinking? Well that's what I thought for a couple of days. I thought I was just being a little too wishful. Then I searched "democratic business" on google and I found a ton of results. I found out about businesses like Semco, DaVita, Southwest, and Great Harvest. I discovered that not only are the oligarchical-style corporations not necessary to create a stable company, but they impede stability. Most important, they undermine our faith and the faith of people around the world in democracy in so many ways.

I believe that if every American corporation was a democratic corporation, in less than 50 years, we would convert the entire world to democracy. Think of it. No more sweatshops. Everyone could feel invested in their job and company. What force would be strong enough to stop democracy from filling the world? Not even the world banks and oligarchy-style corporations could stop the tide.

I'm not the only one starting this movement. Research online. Discover for yourself the faith people are finding in democratic workplaces. Go to http://www.worldblu.com/. Many of the most talented people coming out of our universities are opting to be part of these democratic businesses because they offer work/life balance and they offer the ability to truly be part of the company and not just to work for a company.

I want to be part of starting another company on democracy's side. If you want to be part of the movement, email me, make comments, and tell everyone you know. I will be tracking the advancements of democracy in the workplace here, so keep updated.

Monday, November 10, 2008

What would the world be like if all businesses were democratic?

Democratic Business Principles from the WorldBlu.com Website:
1. PURPOSE AND VISION A democratic organization is clear about why it exists (its purpose) and where it is headed and what it hopes to achieve (its vision). These act as its true North, offering guidance and discipline to the organization's direction.
2. TRANSPARENCY Say goodbye to the "secret society" mentality. Democratic organizations are transparent and open with employees about the financial health, strategy, and agenda of the organization.
3. DIALOGUE + LISTENING Instead of the top-down monologue or dysfunctional silence that characterizes most workplaces, democratic organizations are committed to having conversations that bring out new levels of meaning and connection.
4. FAIRNESS + DIGNITY Democratic organizations are committed to fairness and dignity, not treating some people like "somebodies" and other people like "nobodies."
5. ACCOUNTABILITY Democratic organizations point fingers, not in a blaming way but in a liberating way! Democratic organizations are crystal clear about who is accountable and responsible for what.
6. INDIVIDUAL + COLLECTIVE In democratic organizations, the individual is just as important as the whole, meaning employees are valued for their individual contribution as well as for what they do to help achieve the collective goals of the organization.
7. CHOICE Democratic organizations thrive on giving employees meaningful choices.
8. INTEGRITY Integrity is the name of the game, and democratic companies have a lot of it. They understand that freedom takes discipline and also doing what's morally and ethically right.
9. DECENTRALIZATION Democratic organizations distribute leadership and power across their enterprise.
10. REFLECTION + EVALUATION Democratic organizations are committed to looking in the mirror and asking, "How can we be better?" -- not just quarterly or annually, but daily.

How Will You Measure Your Life?

I recently read this article by Clayton Christiansen out of Harvard entitled, “How will you measure your life?” It is what he tells his students on the final day of his class.

One of the items that he mentions sticks out to me. It reads as follows:

“One of the theories, . . . . . how to be sure we find happiness in our careers—is from Frederick Herzberg, who asserts that the powerful motivator in our lives isn’t money; it’s the opportunity to learn, grow in responsibilities, contribute to others, and be recognized for achievements. I tell the students about a vision of sorts I had while I was running the company I founded before becoming an academic. In my mind’s eye I saw one of my managers leave for work one morning with a relatively strong level of self-esteem. Then I pictured her driving home to her family 10 hours later, feeling unappreciated, frustrated, underutilized, and demeaned. I imagined how profoundly her lowered self-esteem affected the way she interacted with her children. The vision in my mind then fast-forwarded to another day, when she drove home with greater self-esteem—feeling that she had learned a lot, been recognized for achieving valuable things, and played a significant role in the success of some important initiatives. I then imagined how positively that affected her as a spouse and a parent. My conclusion: Management is the most noble of professions if it’s practiced well. No other occupation offers as many ways to help others learn and grow, take responsibility and be recognized for achievement, and contribute to the success of a team. More and more [people think] that a career in business means buying, selling, and investing in companies. That’s unfortunate. Doing deals doesn’t yield the deep rewards that come from building up people."

I’m sure you can see why it sticks out.