The concentration of wealth / power in the hands of the few at the expense of the many undermines any legitimate claim to democracy (i.e., a government of the people, by the people, for the people). And the issue of billionaires buying government access / influence has become a major political issue since Bernie Standers made it the centerpiece of his 2016 presidential run.
In recent days, progressive presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has been pounding the table on the possibility of dividing (diluting wealth / power) from big tech firms like Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple. But exactly how that breakup should occur remains a matter of guesswork.
A SIMPLE SOLUTION
In that sense, I offer a simple solution to the complex problem of monopolistic monstrosities that concentrate more and more wealth and power in the hands of a few at the expense of the majority. Rather than breaking them down into smaller, less monopolistic chunks, why not encourage Amazon (which paid $ 0 in 2018 federal taxes *) with its 613,300 employees to become employee property?
After all, there are currently more than 10,000 employee-owned businesses in the US today. And in general, they are exceptionally efficient, productive and resilient in difficult times because their financial incentives are situated in such a way that it is literally in everyone’s interest to work together at the same time, in the same direction, towards the same goal.
Plus, when an employee-owned company wins, EVERYONE WINS, not just the lucky few at the top. And when an employee-owned business loses, EVERYONE LOSES, not just the unlucky ones at the bottom. In the process, conventional, antagonistic and counterproductive problems of workforce versus management are systematically eliminated.
So how do employees pay for their shares?
You may be wondering how Amazon employees, many of whom have little or no savings or home equity, could pay for the stock in the company they work for. The answer is that if they use a strategy known as an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), employees can guarantee their purchase of shares using the future earnings of the companies (in investment circles this is known as a leveraged buy / LBO ) instead of looking for savings or putting a second mortgage on the family home.
Additionally, in an ESOP, stock purchases are made with DOLLARS BEFORE TAX, dramatically speeding up the buying process as well as the path to ownership. And with employees maintaining their pay or salary while generating a second income (or retirement) through their new ownership of shares, it expands the tax base for all levels of government. That is, more people will be able to pay taxes.
Ultimately, employee ownership stabilizes the community. Ask the owners of the Green Bay Packers, the only community-owned NFL team that will never leave Green Bay, WI.
Who would object?
So who would object to this simple solution? Surely not the Republicans (including Ronald Reagan), all of whom favor private property, free market, grassroots solutions over government-dominated public property solutions to any problem. And surely not the Democrats (including Bernie Sanders), all of whom favor the democratization of the workplace and the distribution (decentralization) of wealth in the hands of the many. And surely not the independents, all of whom are sick and tired of partisan squabbles between two parties that seem to disagree on anything.
Even Amazon owner Jeff Bezos would almost have to agree. I mean you already have more money than you can possibly count. And why would he want to go to the grave known as a 21st century monopolist and greedy flint that helped demolish American democracy?
And once Amazon is on board, we should have similar conversations with Facebook (36,000 employees), Microsoft (135,000 employees), Google (99,000 employees), Apple (132,000 employees), Wal-Mart (2.1 million employees) and McDonalds (1.9 million). employees), Goldman Sachs (36,600 employees), Citi Bank (204,000 employees), Wells Fargo (258,700 employees) just to name a few.
* PS: It’s interesting to note that even though Amazon’s profits topped $ 1 billion last year, they paid exactly $ 0.00 in federal taxes. And due to Trump’s tax cut for billionaires and corporations, Amazon has or expects to receive a REFUND of $ 789,000,000!