Jerry Ash: The Disruptive Professor

How Politics and Practice Differ

My NotMyEconomics online course is non-partisan and I try to keep my students out of political discourse except in the Red Zone where I present 13 essays describing the dark side of economics.

Among those essays I talk about the impact of unrestrained capitalism on democracy and place the blame where I think it belongs — with those who have squandered their rights  and responsibilities as citizens.

In the next, the Yellow Zone where we develop personal strategies to take matters into our own hands, I direct my students to carry the lessons of history forward while leaving the history itself behind.

My blog posts are contemporary which means I’m breaking my own rule by discussing a legislative proposal that appears to be in line with some of the goals, objectives and strategies of my course.

I may be focused, but I’m not blind!

How Politics and Practice Differ

In a Washington Post article — not a news story, but opinion — the writer begins by announcing, “Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is offering a plan to make being your own boss a reality — sort of —by requiring firms with more than $1 billion in revenue to acquire a federal charter and fill at least 40 percent of their board seats with employee representatives.”

The nay saying (“sort of”) begins.

The writer goes on to point out the fact that Germany and others in Europe are employing such systems, which is supposed to quiet fears that it might cause a “corporate holocaust.”

Whose fears? Well, the workers, of course.

Of course? Well yes. The article bypasses the fact that corporate power would be horrified and opines that laborers on the left would be equally unimpressed.

Quoting the article: “. . . the fact that co-determination seems to truly succeed only in one fairly small area of Europe should give the left some pause, too. Scandinavian culture, vastly more collaborative and trusting than American culture, has no disasters comparable to those we’ve seen in the American automotive industry, where General Motors’s union simply refused to believe the dire financial picture painted by the company until a few weeks before the firm ran out of cash.”

That is an accurate view of the contentious nature of American capitalism.

In essence, the article declares that Warren’s plan won’t work here.

I’ll go further than that. Elizabeth Warren’s plan — bless her heart — won’t work because it will never see the light of day in a jaundiced world of politics where solutions are to be ripped apart, not seriously considered. Even if the promise of the bill motivates voters to put her party back in power, the passage and implementation of her bill is highly unlikely.

We have 200 years of history as proof. Empty promises are not the domain of any particular party.

Unlike the Washington Post, I do believe in Americans at the grassroots where they live and work and understand the issues in that context quite clearly. The most complex issues are very simple when viewed in your own back yard. And action comes easy if you have a real opportunity and a clear stake in the game.

The NotMyEconomics course has led to a simple, albeit difficult, plan to launch a network of small businesses using a disruptive, socially-responsible, self-managed, profit-sharing business model that is non-threatening in the “small world” and infinitely greater in scope than Warren’s bill.

Workers are able to own and manage their own work and receive a fair share of the profit they help create. All for the common good.

The NME promise goes way beyond just “being your own boss.”

To take charge of their own work and their destinies students will have to move from dependency on fixed payroll to indie entrepreneur. The course is leading people of entrepreneurial spirit to either own their own socially responsible, self-managed, profit-sharing companies or work for one.

It will be a year or two before these enterprises are up and running but that’s before two Congressional campaigns and a Presidential election have run their course. And way before Elizabeth Warren’s Robin Hood approach to the re-distribution of wealth and power changes the way capitalism works in Big Business.

Last Word

You have been reading this blog post on the website of NotMyEconomics. The site is entirely free (no lie) and open to the public and I invite you to take a look around. Begin with the Orientation and enroll if you want to engage in the interactive features of the course. Thank you.

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Not My EconomicsHow Politics and Practice Differ