I am an American socialist. The term “socialist” has many different meanings. It is an umbrella term for any number of visions on the economic left. For communists, it is an intermediary stage before government eventually gives way to absolute freedom. For democratic socialists, it is a liberal, highly-regulated form of capitalism. For libertarian socialists, it is a vision of a world of syndicated, anarchist communes. I do not believe that any of these visions match my own. I do not believe that any of these visions offer a real promise to the working class. They are rendered ineffective because of inefficiency, they fail to provide any real democracy for the common man and woman, or they offer up nothing less than anarchy.
My vision is a simple one, based on a firm belief that working people and their families deserve a voice in their workplaces, and that it is they who deserve a stake in their own livelihoods. I believe that the fruits of labor should go first to the laborers, and that no human being should be treated as an instrument for profit. I believe that the goal of an economy is to better the well-being of those who make it possible. The welfare of working people should always come before the excesses of the wealthy.
I also believe that the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and promise of America enshrine a belief in equality that is balanced by opportunity. I believe that it teaches that freedom and equality go hand in hand, and that neither can exist without the other. It is these ideals that have shaped my vision for American socialism and a truly democratic economy.
The greatest component of my vision is that companies belong in the hands of their employees. I believe that every company should, by legal mandate, be at least 60% worker-owned and voted. I believe that every employee of a company, from the top executive to the entry-level employee should have an equal stake within that 60%, and that every employee should receive an equal number of votes in all shareholder decisions. The remaining 40% of the company could be owned by employees and executives, or by investors. This is a necessary mechanism to ensure that there is still money available to grow businesses and expand opportunities. It also allows average people to have freedom with their own money and choose where to invest it.
All employees need to be given an equal voice and vote to have an impact in their workplace. Every major decision by a company, whether it is outsourcing or executive pay, must be reached by a consensus of its workers. This form of economic and industrial democracy will ensure that the will of those who are responsible for the success of a company is heeded. It will also promote a great redistribution of wealth. I do not believe that most workers in this country approve of the fact that 33% of the net wealth in this country belongs to the richest 1% of the population. I believe they are rightly appalled at the fact that 71% of the wealth belongs to the richest 10% of the population. I believe that, given the means to do so, workers would demand better wages, more domestic jobs, better health care plans, and guaranteed pensions before such an intense centralization of wealth. I believe that, given the means to do so in the workplace, the workers will demand an end to excessive outsourcing, record executive profits, and price gouging at a time when inflation is rising, basic necessities are increasingly out of the reach of the common people, and high-tech jobs in America are disappearing.
I believe that this system of decentralized socialism, with its emphasis on all workers standing for what they believe in and making their voices heard, will ensure that the needs of the people are met. Under a cooperative-oriented system in which labor and management make decisions together based on plurality, while still having access to investment funds from outside sources, the economy will benefit the people in a way never seen before.
Please consider this vision of a new America: an America in which everyone has the power to ensure their well-being and provide for their families, an America in which the men and women who are the foundation of the economy enjoy the benefits of their labor.
I believe that this is the way to fulfill the promise of democracy in America. It is how we can all enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness together, and share fully in the bounty of our great nation.
Democracy and socialism are the way to unite in freedom and equality. Long live democracy.