I read an article in the Wall Street Journal on September 26 entitled “The Middle Class Squeeze” by Charles Moore, former editor of the Daily Telegraph. He talked about various aspects of the inequality in today’s world that has been a major topic of discussion over the past months. He had some interesting thoughts on the struggles of the middle class. One issue he raised is ownership. Here is what he had to say:
“Take ownership much more seriously. Why are so few companies owned by the people who work for them, and why do both liberal and conservative political parties not offer greater incentives, such as tax advantages, for this to change? It is extraordinary that the joint stock company, the foundation of modern commercial and industrial wealth, is still so little influenced by the views of shareholders.”
And, he offered the following thoughts:
“The Victorians were more imaginative than we are about principles of mutuality—credit unions, building societies, the cooperative movement. Such organizations feel creakier in an age when people want larger sums, faster. But is it really beyond the skill of our great modern business brains to develop these concepts and adapt them to modernity? Financial creativity, unfortunately, really has become the preserve of the few, for the few.”
He thinks the ownership model of the Victorians, which is the ownership model of Fraternal Benefit Societies, could be a model that could help alleviate some of the issues we face today if we could adapt the model to today’s world, if we could make it feel less “creaky”.
Our members are certainly involved in the governance of the organization, and passionate about seeing it succeed. Many of us have been working to make the model feel less “creaky”. We are making progress, but certainly need to do more.