24 November 2012

Hobnobbing Job Gobblers

The meek might one day inherit the earth, but for all of human history, the present, and the near future, the meek survive at the mercy of the wealthy and powerful, who are usually one and the same.

I have nothing against wealth. I don't want to redistribute wealth. I only want people who aren't wealthy to recognize that the power wielded by the masses requires extensive organization. If we aren't organized, we are powerless.

In reading articles about the development of Nashville, the projects such as apartments, office buildings, and mixed-use buildings that have been planned, I can't help but notice how these development decisions rarely get made by the people living in the neighborhoods around them. A time for input from the community leads up to public hearings, but how many of us are analyzing the impacts of proposed developments and attending those public hearings? These projects generally don't get created specifically for the betterment of the community, although there are exceptions (and what betters a community is debatable). They get created by people with money who want to make more money by investing in a space that will be leased for a profit. There is no sin in that, but it does mean that a small group of influencers leads the growth of any city.

I have never been the one with the money. I can't buy property. I can't fund a master's degree without a loan, so by refusing to take out a loan, I've been forced to beg. Without a cadre of contacts, a source of funding, or an advanced education, I am just another cog in the system.

This situation fuels my fire, though. I am not alone. I am not alone in knowing that with the right loan, I could purchase an income property and lease it out. With the right loan, I could start a business and raise more capital to invest further in my business or in property. I know that with the right information, the right idea, and the right connections, I could find the funding to put my little stamp on the map of this city. Many people like me, maybe even you, know that a little help can go a long way.

What may ultimately be the only way to legitimately spread wealth and power is what I'm embracing as my cause, my goal, my opus: the masses must begin to create their own jobs. Micro-entrepreneurship must become a source of competition for corporations. Individual investors must create their own investment groups to buy influence in publicly traded companies. We, the masses, cannot continue to sit at the mercy of CEO's who will put profit before the public good--hobnobbing job gobblers who claim that regulations cut into their ability to create jobs, when at the heart of it, their lack of imagination, an inability or refusal to adapt their modus operandi, and/or a ruthless drive toward profit at any cost cuts into their ability to create jobs while simultaneously maintaining their own standard of living and consistently higher profits for stockholders. (I'm speaking about the giants here, not the small businesses squeezed by regulations.) Corporations do exist with missions and goals that support the missions and goals of their employees, that support protection of the natural environment, that uplift the communities from which they draw their profit. And yes, they make a profit.

Workers, too, need to understand the fundamentals of business and the economy to foster stronger companies. If Hostess weren't mismanaged, and one of the two unions representing their employees weren't unbending, people would not be hoarding Twinkies. There are more than two sides to that story, more than two ways of thinking about how their insolvency could have been avoided, and I wonder what could have been the solution long before strikes were contemplated. I don't propose to know, but I do propose that a wiser, better-educated workforce might have made a difference. Could a cooperative structure have been one possibility? What sort of knowledge would those employees have needed to have become the owners of their own company?

It is to this end--creating more informed workers and small business owners and empowering would-be entrepreneurs--that I believe in creating affordable business education. Some people become wealthy first and then start a school. I hope to start a program now that makes many people wealthy; not just the founders, but the constituents. If you had a chance to take a class to improve your business skills, what sort of classes would you want?

I got very excited about the possibly teaching a class this winter on commercial leases with the Nashville Community Education Commission, but then I realized it could be perceived as a conflict of interest with my current position. What other sorts of classes might help you as a small business owner, or aspiring CEO, or dreamer of better things to come?

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