“When in the course of human events” Remember that opening to the Declaration of Independence? That opening written by Thomas Jefferson still stirs emotion of an authentic sense of patriotism that has been kept alive in my conscious thoughts ever since I was a youngster. Never before or since has a document so eloquently stated the hopes and dreams of millions in the birth of a new nation. The relevancy of which holds merit even to this day. But, now the time has come to reaffirm of what that Declaration and the Constitution has come to mean in today’s realm of reality.
The land of the free as it was in the beginning is now so foreign that basic freedoms, the ones we take for granted have been slowly disappearing with each passing decade. It is time for a return to the original concepts as stated in the Declaration and the Constitution from which our founding fathers put forth. With stealth like acumen our government along with the accomplices in Corporate America has managed to undermine the freedoms that enabled our society to prosper.
In corporate America there has been a constant erosion in the ability of the American worker to actually climb up that ladder of upward mobility. The continued wage reduction and wage stagnation is strangling the life blood of our base economy. As the cost of living continues to rise the American worker is more impoverished now more than ever. The economic climate today is a combination of events, policies, specific mandates, treaties and regulations issued by our government over the past 40 years that has allowed Corporate America to ruin the opportunities for the American worker. The greatest wage and wealth disparity gape in the history of the United States continues to widen. This income gap is so wide today it actually is destroying the economic stability and eventually our national security will be compromised because of it.
Here again, we have to use the lessons of history to solve today’s problems. But so often the solutions that were used in the past are overlooked, deemed unsuitable, or otherwise completely ignored. It is to bad because history is such valuable tool that not to remember or use what worked in the past only preclude that mistakes only will repeat. It was in the early 1900′s when Henry Ford realized that his workers were the most valuable asset in business. Something that is sadly lacking in today’s corporate world. All one has to do is look at the life expectancy rate of employees today. The average length of time one is employed at any one company is less than 5 years. Sad fact of our modern society. Unlike when my father was working most of that generation stayed with the same company for years which gave way to better products and services. Like, the American made cars of the 1950′s and 60′s. Back in Henry Fords time though is very much like it is today. Employees are still so often overlooked as a valuable component of any business. The results today are staggering. The quality of today’s goods and services are but a shadow of what they were 50 years ago.
To ensure that the automobile that the Ford Motor Corporation was manufacturing was the best made Henry Ford ushered in a most innovative approach for the employees of Ford Motor Corp. Unheard of at the time, much like today’s reality in Corporate America, he announced that he was going to more than double the wages he was paying his employees, from $2.34 to $5 a day. Which is the equivalent of about $180 a day in today’s money. When this was announced every corporate tycoon was completely dismayed. The whole country was shocked just as they would be today.
Just think back then the height of the Gilded Age where corporate leaders in industry took every advantage they could to reap the most profits now were confronted by the realization that one of them was breaking ranks sort of speaking and allowing profits to return to the rank and file employee. What was Henry Ford thinking? One of the most powerful corporations of the early 20th century now sharing profits with the average John Doe employee. Had he forgot the number one rule in business is to maximize profits at all costs? Apparently not.
The calculating shrewdness of Henry Ford quickly dispelled the non believers. In fact the hidden costs of high employee turnover rates, the cost of recruiting and training new employees far exceeded the cost of paying living wages to his workers. Something that wasn’t done before. This when every business owner only paid employees no more than the “market rate”. This is because the business climate then and now is to create share holder value. Meanwhile employees everywhere are re gated to substandard wage earnings. It is as though our illustrious leaders in industry have forgotten that workers too are consumers.
When Henry Ford initiated that wage increase thousands of people immediately lined up to get jobs at Ford Motors. Employee turnover plummeted, recruiting and training costs were reduced substantially. In other words the new wages allowed every Ford employee to live a middle-class life. This, instead of relying on those meager wages that weren’t really enough to buy food let alone the product that they were employed to produce. In the end it made Ford, Ford’s senior executives, and Ford’s shareholders wealthier and even more proud of what they had accomplished.
What Henry Ford did was he ushered in an age in which the middle class really became the dominant force in the American economy. It really did, as we say, turbo charged the nations economic growth right through till the late 1970′s. The fulfillment of the Williams Theory of Economic Evolution for the United States was possible. That being, the more people with more disposable income to spend, pay down debt, and to save is by far the greatest economic boost for any society. In short, instead of viewing “shareholders” and “customers” as the only two corporate constituencies that matter, Ford introduced the idea that great companies should also serve a third constituency: Employees. And, because one company’s employees are another company’s customers, Ford’s decision helped spread the country’s wealth to more citizens and expand the purchasing power of the country as a whole. In so doing, it helped stabilize and grow the overall economy of the United States.
Today, the United States is facing a very similar economic problems just as we did in the early 20th century. A glut of labor then and now has allowed companies to pay a pittance for a day’s work, leaving most of their dedicated employees destitute. Business owners and executives (the equivalent of today’s 1%) recouped the largest dividends. Again like in the early 1900′s the tycoons of industry created that wealth gap from which the economic growth of a nation didn’t and couldn’t increase. This leaving most rank-and-file workers so impoverished backward mobility was the only option available. The lack of spending power in the middle class of which was almost non existent like today where the middle class has been reduced so drastically it is unconscionable has crimped overall economic growth. With corporate profits at record levels today it only make sense that the shared wealth be dispersed through-out the entire labor force.
The need is more than apparent that decisive action is needed to halt the dwindling decline of the middle class. So far major corporations have been very reluctant in sharing their mountain of wealth [profits] with the work force of America. If we really want to fix today’s ailing U.S. economy, we need many of our large corporations to do what Henry Ford voluntarily did. that is share more of their vast wealth with their rank-and-file employees. If the companies don’t eventually see the benefit of doing this and do it voluntarily, the government (an extension of the people) have to mandate that they do it either through taxation or by radically increasing the national minimum wage. Today, many states have already taken the lead by increasing the minimum wage.
With the Trump Administration and a republican led congress have made it clear that they won’t assert a national increase for the minimum wage. If the 2018 mid-term elections prove a change in the leadership of congress the best way to increase the middle class is by passing National Economic Reform’s Ten Articles of Confederation. And in this way businesses will see that it really makes sense to follow the example that Henry Ford set back at the turn of the 20th century. The result will be more economic security and more Americans will be able to clime up that ladder of upward mobility. When more people have opportunities to earn living wages the impact on this country will be a lot less agitation like we are seeing today especially with the events that took place in Charlotesville and other cities and towns that are festering with racial tensions.