Labor Vs Management: How Competition and Greed Instead of Cooperation Weakens the Economy

Henry Ford, Thomas Alva Edison, and Harvey Samuel Firestone- the fathers of modernity11 February 1929, public domain

Henry Ford, Thomas Alva Edison, and Harvey Samuel Firestone- the fathers of modernity
11 February 1929, public domain

It is odd to hear how people will cherry-pick history.  A lot of liberals and even some conservatives have come out lately in favor of a rise in the minimum wage.  Inevitably, they will invoke the name of Henry Ford, who doubled wages in 1914 to $5.00 per day.  His philosophy was that the workers should share in the profits, and he even considered more of a profit sharing deal than a wage.  In his mind, the workers should be able to afford the cars they built.

However, liberals would sharply disagree with his views on labor unions.  “Ford was adamantly against labor unions,” says Wikipedia in the “Labor unions” section of their “Henry Ford” article.

Ford was adamantly against labor unions. He explained his views on unions in Chapter 18 of My Life and Work. He thought they were too heavily influenced by some leaders who, despite their ostensible good motives, would end up doing more harm than good for workers. Most wanted to restrict productivity as a means to foster employment, but Ford saw this as self-defeating because, in his view, productivity was necessary for any economic prosperity to exist.

The truth is, and it is truer now than before, companies don’t have a vested interest in their labor force and neither do the unions.  Employers, especially large companies, have a very long history of not caring about their workers, often to their very own detriment.  However, let’s not kid ourselves either and call the labor unions our friends.  They have a vested interest in keeping dissent flamed in order to justify their existence.  Truly, where are the visionaries like Henry Ford today, who obviously not only cared about his company and his employees but also the overall society?

Over the weekend, Living Church of God posted “The Lunch Bucket Theory“.  It starts with an interesting story where the author, Charles Knowlton, wanted to give his employees profit sharing.  So, he had a meeting with them, and what transpired?  Basically, the employees were looking for all sorts of benefits above and beyond this, and it pretty much turned into a negotiation for all sorts of benefits other than profit sharing.  They were trying to milk the cow dry, as they say.

What went wrong? I call it the “lunch bucket theory.” Of course, few workers carry lunch buckets any longer, but that is my fictionalized term for the principle that the worker has an investment in the place to which he (or she) carries a lunch bucket. If you are part of the company, you are part of the team, and you deserve part of the profit.

Sadly, in our day, it is far too common for labor and management to try to exploit each other–even when doing so ultimately hurts the interests (and the profits) of both labor and management alike. What does the Bible have to say about all of this?

Well, you can read his article to get his answers, and they are good ones I should say.  However, I want to broaden it out a little bit.  What is wrong with management vs labor?  What is wrong with the economy in general?

Greed.  I’ve not changed my mind about this.  It isn’t the type of competition that friendly rivals have that drive the economy, nor is it competition tempered with good sportsmanship.  No, it is the “what is in it for me?” syndrome.  Instead of give and take, too often both sides simply want to take.

HWA had something to say about this as well.  He said it often enough that people would simply roll their eyes when he spoke about “The Two Trees”.  Yet, in a nutshell, you can look at any serious disagreement and see it in action.  Give vs get, cooperation vs competition, greed vs generosity and selfishness (love of self) over the love of others.  This world is built upon “knowing” good and evil by experiencing it, and even the “good” is often subjective and built upon sand.

Why can’t labor and management get along?  Why can’t countries get along?  Why do families split up?  In fact, why do churches split up?  It is because one, but usually both, sides are practicing the way of get, the way of Satan, rather than the way of give, of godly generosity.

It rarely is even a smart type of selfishness, either.  I used to believe that most people, although by no means all, had at least a sense of “enlightened selfishness” where they realized that their actions effected others to the point where what goes around comes around.  I don’t even believe that any longer.  I’ve seen too much of the stupid type of selfishness, to include labor unions that would rather factories shut down and everyone lose their jobs than try to work things out.  There are too many CEOs who would rather get millions in bonuses to the point that they would cut employees and downsize to where the company begins to falter.

We all manage something.  We all have to negotiate something.  How do we approach these events?  Do we seek the well being of the organization or are we only after what we can get?

In the World Tomorrow, the saints will be given roles of management, and the saints will have to dispense even justice among the people in their care.  If we want to be part of God’s team then, we need to be making decisions now that will look for the overall good of everyone involved.  Of course, we will have to know what “good” is to even do that!  We ourselves will have to be practicing good according to God’s standard rather our own, and secondarily seek the good of others over our own.

Are we practicing this now in our own spheres of influence?

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