Democrats & Liberals Archives

The Business of America is Work

President Coolidge believed and now President Bush believes that the business of America is business. Since we started glorifying business, there has been too much popular aggrandizement of entrepreneurs, tycoons, financiers, billionaires, CEOs and business owners. The result has been a big shift towards conservatism and an increase in fierce competition, money-craziness, selfishness, aggression, conflict, polarization and militarism. We are on the wrong track. The business of America is not business but work, especially work for the common good.

There are at least 6 times as many workers as there are businesses. Business owners make up approximately 15% of the economic population; this includes many self-employed, part-timers and hobbyists. The labor force consists of the rest of us - 85%. Since workers are a super-majority, why do we constantly praise business and rarely speak of workers? Why do our politicians make laws that favor business and hurt workers? Trickle down, we're told. Why not make laws that help the majority - the workers - and have trickle up?

The answer is that we bow to the superior wisdom of business. We assume our prosperity comes from successful businesses. We love their achievements, the gadgets they sell, the frills they provide us, the good living they help us achieve.

However, our good life does not depend solely, or even mostly, upon business. No business can achieve anything without its workers. There are some workers that do their good work without the benefit of a business; they work in government, schools and non-profit organizations. And yet workers are generally held in low regard. This is wrong.

Our whole society would benefit greatly if we recognized that workers make our society what it is. Glorifying workers would shift the pendulum back a little toward the little guy and increase the number of cooperative endeavors in our society. We may even become a more civil society.

Here are a few examples of the societal good that is done by several types of workers:

  • INVENTORS - Though businesses usually get the credit for appliances, gadgets and entertainment boxes, inventors are the ones who do the work to make these new technologies possible

  • SCIENTISTS - Much of what inventors do would not be possible without the research work done by scientists. You may say that scientists are the foundation for our technological society

  • ENGINEERS & ARCHITECTS - They design the cornucopia of products we relish and the homes we live in

  • TEACHERS - These workers deserve the most praise because without teachers, we would have no professionals nor other skilled artisans to do all the important work that needs to be done

  • HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS - They keep us healthy and living longer. A common good

  • FIREFIGHTERS - They save lives and property. Another common good

  • LAW ENFORCERS - They keep us safe. Still another common good

  • JUDGES - They protect our civil liberties. Definitely a common good

  • STREET SWEEPERS - Though people look down at them, they keep our streets clean, hygienic and inviting. This, too, is a common good
Of course, there are many, many more types of workers.

I am not denigrating business. I merely want to show that workers contribute a lot to make our society what it is.

To shift the American people back to liberalism, let us glorify the worker. All liberals should get together and develop a long range program to write about, talk about, honor, celebrate and publicize workers - all types - that are contributing to the common good. Maybe even a think tank about work and workers.

The business of America is not business, but work, especially work for the common good.

Posted by Paul Siegel at December 28, 2005 6:00 PM