Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Damned socialists anyway....!

The owner of Bob's Red Mill is giving the company to the employees with an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan). 

The first company I worked for out of college was an ESOP.  I can't tell you what a difference it makes as an employee to have ownership in the product/service you're selling or supporting.  Not just ownership of profit (which is a huge incentive itself), but ownership of the decision making process and everyday management.  I've worked in an ESOP to working for a huge publically owned company (as a contractor and no ownership at all), then to a small privately held company and back to public again (with a strong profit sharing plan).  I can't tell you how vastly different the cultures are when employees are given a stake in the profits they produce and a say in the process (and stress factors) of their everyday jobs.    How much better employees and management work together, trust one another.  How employees will step up and innovate, and work harder and longer to solve problems, minimize costs, provide better customer service.   It's like night and day.  A fact which has been supported by numerous studies, by the way....

Yet according to lovers of the mythical magic of capitalism... this business model is anathema.  It's Socialism.  With a capital "S".  Such a company is doomed not only to fail, but to drag down everything America holds dear right along with it. So are member (or customer) owned companies.  Like credit unions.  And co-ops.  Member-owned insurance companies.  At least that's what I heard over and over from soundbites from last week's CPAC convention.   Especially lovely was listening to them talk about how they don't want a crappy "gov't run" healthcare system to screw up their much beloved (... and gov't run...) Medicare.   Then there was Glenn Beck talking about how he taught himself that liberals/progressives are the bane of Democracy..... by reading "free" (?) books at the (tax-payer funded) public library.  Public library systems that were envisioned and implemented in the U.S. (and U.K. before then) by.... progressive "elites".

But as they say, the proof is in the pudding. I'll take companies that are employee-owned or significantly employee owned any day.   Like Google (who gave me gmail, and Blogger...).  And good old socialist ideas like public libraries.

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