Saturday, January 24, 2009

Surviving on 3 Months Wages in 2009 and 2010

Glenn Beck reported on 1/21/2009 that the Treasury has increased the money supply by 70 per cent since October.

"I talked to Steven Moore at the Wall Street Journal and he talked to the Treasury. It looks like we have increased the money supply by 70% since October. They're running these presses 24 hours a day. The effects of this, you're saying, will destroy the currency, so then, what happens?"

So then, what does happen to you and I? When this newly printed money trickles down to you and I (probably by 2010), the $50,000 salary you made last year, and that you make this year, will each be worth only $29,412. That is the same as the government taxing you 41% or $20,588 two years in a row and taxing all of your savings. No matter how much you made in 2008 and make in 2009, you will give all the money you made and make, from January to mid-September 2008 and 2009, to the government. This does not even include the cost to you of the $1.9 trillion in bailouts.

How does the government expect you and I and our businesses to survive in 2009 and 2010 on three and a half months of wages? How much more will the Treasury increase the money supply? How can the government take our money to restore the banking system without destroying the rest of us? Who will bail out the rest of us?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

My Ideal Company

My ideal company would have...

(1) a media department to help employees focus on the euphoric purpose of the company and to maintain transparency in the company
(2) the option of employee ownership
(3) one optional, paid hour per day allocated to employee fitness
(4) twenty optional, paid hours per year allocated to service projects of the employee's choice
(5) a one-year term for managers
(6) weekly personal-progress interviews

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Nothing to Fear, But No Health Care

We have never needed democracy more than we do now. We need to democratize (not socialize) our government, democratize our health care companies, and democratize our businesses.

"Fifty million Americans are without health insurance, and 25 million are “underinsured.” Millions being laid off will soon be added to those rolls. Medical bills cause more than half of personal bankruptcies in the U.S. Desperate for care, the under- and uninsured flock to emergency rooms, often dealing with problems that could have been prevented." -- Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!

Friday, January 16, 2009

My Latest Letter to Obama

The U.S. is a democracy; yet, the dominant corporations of our time are run like oligarchies. Throughout U.S. and world history, this contradiction of oligarchies within a democracy has proven costly to lives, tax dollars, and many of our freedoms. A tax cut to organizationally democratic corporations will save and make the government billions of dollars a year and will recruit the talent needed to get us out of this economic crisis.

Corporations are legally obligated to put the interests of shareholders above all competing interests; when corporations are not organizationally democratic, the interests of the majority are often overlooked. Corporations have overlooked the interests of the majority...

(1) by evading between $250 billion and $300 billion in taxes per year.
As a result, you and I pay 15% more in taxes every year--according to PBS Frontline. When corporations' financials are not transparent, the pressure to follow the crowd and use tax shelters to evade taxes is constantly present.

(2) by not making health coverage affordable. Wal-Mart and other corporations have encouraged their employees to apply for government health care assistance--instead of making medical coverage affordable. Government health care assistance costs the government billions of dollars.

by outsourcing jobs to foreign countries. Billions of tax dollars have been lost to outsourcing.

by paying CEO's 866 times more than minimum wage employees. That number has increased from 51 times in 1965--according to When corporations create many layers of management, the higher up managers receive large compensations at the expense of lower paid employees. However, when times get tough, having a large number of managerial layers ensures that layoffs will occur, and higher paid managers are consistently the ones laid off. Unemployment and low wages cost the government billions of dollars in relief.

by underpaying their employee's pension plans. In 2006, PBS Frontline reported that corporations were underpaying their employee's pension plans by $450 billion. As you may know, in 2006, the government agency, P.B.G.C., was already in a $23 billion debt. The government can't afford to guarantee all of these and future pension plans that are dumped on the government during corporate bankruptcy.

by constantly violating the law. In the 1990's, large corporations were sued for hundreds of millions of dollars for attempting to pass off costs and obligations to an unaware or unwilling public: (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. (Read about 1,000's of more violations at The cost to the government for all unprosecuted violations is probably in the billions.

by creating unfulfilling workplaces. In 2006, Gallup estimated that disengaged employees cost the American economy $350 billion per year. The lost tax-dollar revenues are also in the billions.

In contrast, organizationally democratic corporations are proactively transparent, offer ownership to all employees, and have very few layers of management (in proportion to number of workers).

During this information age, many corporations such as, Southwest Airlines, Great Harvest, 1-800-GOT-JUNK, the GE plant that produces Air Force One engines, DaVita, The Container Store, and Whole Foods (to name a few) are moving towards this new, democratic corporate structure. Not only does this new, democratic corporate structure attract the best talent in the U.S., but these corporations save and make the U.S. government millions of dollars. A tax cut to organizationally democratic corporations would encourage more corporations to become democratic. More organizationally democratic corporations would attract the necessary talent to pull us out of this financial crisis and save and make the government billions of dollars.

The largest obstacle for identifying organizationally democratic corporations will be to create a standard to determine which corporations are organizationally democratic and which one's are not. A consulting company called World Blu ( currently has a score card to identify organizationally democratic corporations. If you have any questions, visit my website at and make a comment.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Bailout: Borrowing Without a Plan

Politicians and economists call it "pumping money into the economy". I call it borrowing without a plan to repay. If I have a failing business, $175,000 in debt, and I ask you for money to save my business, wouldn't the logical question be, 'How am I going to pay that money back?'

Today, I watched an economic discussion about the bailout on MSNBC. Only one person ever brought up the question, "How are we going to pay this money back to the countries that are buying our debt?" The Chinese and the other countries--that are buying our debt--are asking this question for the first time. It is time that we give them an answer, or they may walk away.

The U.S. currently has a $53 Trillion debt. That means that every person alive today and every child born today inherit over a $175,000 mortgage. How are we going to pay that mortgage back? The truth is, we haven't put down our credit cards long enough to answer that question. One thing is for sure, we WILL pay it back when our creditors demand. There is no such thing as Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the real world.

Synopsis by MSNBC of the Bailout:

Stimulus package from February 2008---------------- $168 Billion
Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac------------------------------- $200 Billion
AIG-------------------------------------------------------- $122.8 Billion
Financial Bailout (TARP)
(Auto Bailout Component= $17.4 Billion)------------- $700 Billion
Obama Plan---------------------------------------------- $775 Billion
Total------------------------------------------------------ $1.9 Trillion

Saturday, January 10, 2009

What Are the 3 Biggest Obstacles to Democratizing the World's Workplaces?

Traci Fenton speaks at least weekly with CEOs of companies that will potentially use her consulting services to democratize their organizations. In a conversation I had with Traci Fenton (CEO of WorldBlu), she identified the three biggest obstacles to democratizing the workplaces of the world:

(1) Many people do not realize that there is a better alternative to oligarchical businesses.

(2) Many people are not willing to give up the feeling of control over their businesses.

(3) Many people are, simply, greedy.

Sounds pretty overwhelming. We are seeing, however, that the biggest obstacles are not as big as the biggest drivers of democratizing the workplaces of the world. Here are the reasons:

(1) The people of the world are beginning to think less of themselves as national citizens and more of themselves as world citizens.

(2) The information age is democratizing even the most undemocratic nations of the world.

(3) Oligarchical companies are losing the most talented people to democratic companies (e.g., computer technology industry vs. banking industry).

(4) More and more people are realizing that the current capitalist system has not benefited the majority of the world; yet, communism is no longer a widely attractive alternative.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

How To Change Our Failing Businesses

Every day we hear about change: change on Wall Street, change in Iraq, change in Palestine, change in the car industry, and change in health care...Whether we speak of a country, a company, or an organization, how does successful, long-lasting change occur?

Ricardo Semler (CEO of Semco) put it this way, "How do you get a sizable organization to change without telling it--or even asking it--to change? It's actually easy--but only if you're willing to give up control. People, I've found, will act in their best interests, and by extension in their organization's best interests, if they're given complete freedom. It's only when you rein them in, when you tell them what to do and how to think, that they become inflexible, bureaucratic, and stagnant. Forcing change is the surest way to frustrate change." (harvardbusinessonline article)

What a completely counter intuitive statement. If we want a country, a company, or an organization to change, we give back, to the people, the power and control to change themselves; then, we get out of the way. Actually, it makes a lot of sense. So long as people feel that they have control, there is nothing to rebel against, and they act in their best interests and their organization's best interest.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

How Do We Respond to the Current Economic Conditions?

Fast Company recently asked the author of Good to Great (7 million copies sold), Jim Collins, "What does your research suggest about the best way to respond to the current economic slowdown?"

He answered, "If I were running a company today, I would have one priority above all others: to acquire as many of the best people as I could. I'd put off everything else to fill my bus. Because things are going to come back. My flywheel is going to start to turn. And the single biggest constraint on the success of my organization is the ability to get and hang on to enough of the right people."

Is it safe to say, then, that the economy is in trouble because the largest corporations in the U.S. do not have the right people to make the right decisions? Why have many of the largest companies in America not been able to "hang on to enough of the right people"?

In an industry of nearly 100% turnover annually, the Container Store's turnover is 18% annually. Not only does the Container Store hang on to the right people, but, the Container Store has been on Fortune's list of The Best Companies to Work For since 2000; twice, the company has been number one. One employee boasts that she turned down a job at the World Bank to work for the Container Store. The Container Store is able to "get and hang on to enough of the right people" because they have created a democratic company.

A quick evaluation of all The Best Companies to Work For demonstrates that "the ability to get and hang on to the right people" is a matter of company structure and company culture. The current economic times are not the result of bad debt. They are the result of a rejection by the latest generation of workers in America and the result of many large companies' inability to "get and hang on to enough of the right people."

Friday, January 2, 2009

Why Is Democratic Business the Obvious Solution to Me?

Yesterday, I attempted to explain why democratic business is so important to me as a solution to the majority of the temporal problems in the world. The answer is that my life experiences have molded my perspective:

I grew up in an affluent section of a big city. The benefits of capitalism constantly surround me.

I have attended church all my life. I was blessed with a heavy conscience and a reverence for human potential.

I have started my own business. After I spent months proving that the business concept was equitable, my financer demanded 90% of the business. I shut down the operations because I could not survive on 10% of the profits.

My father is an entrepreneur. He started two successful businesses. He and I have engaged in hundreds of hours of discussions about his day-to-day business concerns.

I have lived among the people in Brazil. I know what it feels like to look at the U.S. from the outside in. I have survived on one meal a day for multiple months, experienced diseases and ailments foreign to Americans, feared for my safety at the hands of local police, drunk brown water to quench my thirst, and fought off thieves to protect what little I had.

I have lived in Hawaii and learned of its history. I have visited the Dole plantation and I have learned from the Locals how the U.S. reluctantly annexed Hawaii after corporations forcibly removed Queen Lili'uokalani--a queen loved by her people and dedicated to nonviolence--in order to protect their business interests. I have seen the resulted poverty that effects so many natives on the islands.

I have a degree in business management with an emphasis in entrepreneurship. I have studied the Nash equilibrium, laissez-faire capitalism, and other theories that help "businessmen" justify greedy business practices. At the same time, I have learned about the successes of Muhammad Yunus, Fabio Rosa, Albina Ruiz, and many other heroic entrepreneurs that add value to the world and not just to their pocket books.

I have a minor in Spanish with an emphasis in Latin American studies. I have studied the literature of Pablo Neruda, Gabriel García Márquez, Gabriela Mistral, García Lorca, Octavio Paz, and the hundreds of other literary leaders that dedicated much of their lives and writings to fight corruption and inequality.

My collective experiences have offered me the motivation to search for a better alternative to the dominant and dominating institution of our time. I have come to realize that I would be selfish not to do all that I can to act upon those things I know to be true for the sake of those who don't know that there is a better alternative. For this reason, democratic business is so important to me.

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.