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The following article
was written by Coleman Patterson and
appeared in the Business section of the Abilene Reporter-News.
workers can join as allies, March 23, 2007, 2D.
trip to the Abilene Zoo and you will see two pairs of
Africa’s most famous predators living side by side—separated
by concrete and steel, of course. The lions and hyenas of
Africa are competitors for territory and food in the wild.
Because of that, they are also mortal enemies. They have a
learned hatred and fear of each other.
Marx, in his writings on class struggle, identified that a
similar struggle for resources also exists in capitalistic
societies between business owners and workers. The battle
between owners and workers is over which group is entitled
to the surplus revenue of their firms. Surplus revenue is
the money that is brought in by the firm over and above
costs—in others words, profit.
argue that they are entitled to profits because they incur
the risks of creating and operating the companies and that
the profits are their due rewards. Workers, as owners
traditionally see them, are necessary parts of the
production process and as such, receive their compensation
in the form of wages, salaries, and benefits. Workers, on
the other hand, believe that they should receive the profits
because it is their talents, skills, and abilities that make
the company possible. Without workers and their
contributions to the production process, there would be no
output and ultimately, no companies.
argued by Marx, the only way to end this struggle is to take
away the private ownership of capital and establish a system
where communal ownership allows profits to be distributed
and shared by those in community. The rise and fall of the
Soviet Union last century demonstrates that the notions of
communism have severe failings and that it is not the best
solution to ending the struggle between owners and workers.
of taking away business ownership from individuals and
making everyone workers, as communism suggests, some
companies enact strategies that do the opposite. Through
stock ownership and options programs, some companies offer
employees ownership in their ventures as rewards for their
contributions. In essence, this model makes workers into
owners. It aligns the interests of the workers and the
owners in the pursuit of a common goal—to increase rather
than to divide profits.
Schultz of Starbucks Coffee attributes much of the success
of his company to the involvement, commitment, and
contributions of Starbucks’ people. A strategic business
decision in the early 1990s allowed full- and part-time
workers to participate in the company’s stock options
program. By turning their workers into owners, Starbucks
created an entire workforce of people who possess high
levels of pride and dedication to their jobs and
organization. The benefits of this philosophy have been
tremendous for Starbucks.
doubtful that Karl Marx ever conceived of a situation where
workers and owners worked together for their mutual best
interests. It was self interest that helped tear apart
communism in the Soviet Union and “enlightened” self
interest that built Starbucks into the successful company
that it is today.
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