Worker?s Paradise

| March 31, 2003

Louis Kelso has been called everything from a crackpot visionary to the second coming of Christ. Even if you?ve never heard of the guy, if you?ve spent any time in corporate America in the past decade, you?ve been living in Kelso?s world. Early in his career, Kelso discovered what the Bolsheviks had been arguing for years: that capitalism only made sense for capitalists. ?What appears to be justice in the distribution of incomes is in fact gross injustice,? Kelso and Mortimer J. Adler wrote in their best-selling 1958 book, ?The Capitalist Manifesto.? He also wrote that the principles of the Declaration of Independence would only be realized when American workers could fully share in the bounties of the free market. ?What Kelso never prophesied though, is that when everyone becomes a capitalist, capitalism itself may stop working,? writes Harvard business school student Charles Duhigg, in a recent Boston Globe op-ed. Today, the existence of stock options, employee ownership plans, and 401(k) accounts can be attributed to Kelso?s ideas. At the end of 2001, BusinessWeek reported that 90 percent of large U.S. companies encouraged employee ownership and that more than 10 million workers received stock as part of their compensation. The biggest downfall for this type of employee ownership is when a company like Enron declares bankruptcy, and employees lose both their jobs and their savings.
?Nick Garafola

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