If Businesses Operated Like Schools, We Could End Unemployment and Welfare—and Close the Prisons

April 5, 2011 Published by

If businesses operated like schools, we would first need to break the United States into geographic areas. It would be the responsibility of the businesses in that area to hire every adult in the area between the ages of 18 and 65. The businesses would have to hire everyone: the medically fragile (and provide nursing care), the developmentally delayed, those with special needs, individuals who didn’t speak the language. This would include any adult with a drug addiction, criminal record, or mental illness—or who suffered abuse or was homeless.

Furthermore, it would be the responsibility of the businesses to provide motivating work for each individual. For any individuals who could not speak the language, it would be the responsibility of the business to teach them. If it was an engineering company, all would need to be taught to be engineers, remediating those who needed it, improving outcomes and providing enrichment activities for those who excelled.

Childcare would need to be provided for those who had children, and lunch would have to be made available to everyone. It would be expected that the business would provide sports programs, music programs, and extra activities. If an employee was not motivated to work, it would be the responsibility of the business to find work that was motivating to the employee. No employee could be suspended for more than three days, unless he/she had a weapon, and then it would be necessary to have a hearing to truly expel the employee.

Each business would then be tested for its level of expertise. These results would be printed out and broadcast to the public for review and comment. And each employee would be tested by age for appropriate knowledge of that business. Never mind that the employee might be very talented in music. If it was an engineering firm, then the testing would be for engineering. If it was a music business and the employee was a gifted chef, it wouldn’t matter. He/she would be tested for music, not for crepes suzette flambé.

Businesses would be given a cutoff for the level of knowledge that each employee had. Businesses would be rated as an A, B, C, or D business based on the employees’ knowledge. (The productivity of the employee or what they could do would seldom if ever be tested. Only the knowledge base of the employee would be tested. It wouldn’t matter that there is a direct correlation between what you know and what you produce.) Businesses would then be identified as failing or exemplary. If a business was in a geographic zone where there happened to be an unusually high number of employees with strong resources, that business would be touted as exceptional.

Each boss would be assigned 30 employees to oversee. They would all work in one room so he/she could watch them. Out of 30 employees, there could be five non-English-speaking individuals, two autistic employees, three developmentally delayed workers, four gifted individuals, two homeless adults, two bullies, five employees who only wanted to socialize (and had no desire to work), eight employees who were really interested in working and producing, and miscellaneous others.

If the bullies started a fight, work would be suspended until the matter could be addressed, the gifted would be assigned to help the developmentally delayed, and the autistic employees would periodically scream. But it would be the boss’s job to make sure all employees were working and loving the work. The boss wouldn’t be allowed to put anyone out of the room for any period of time. The boss would have to make a specialized plan for the special-needs employees and adapt the work to their individualized plans.

To govern each business, there would be an elected board of directors from that geographic area. This board would be elected by the individuals who were working in the geographic zone (who were also in the business). They could vote to generate more money for the business by raising taxes. Many times they would be reluctant to do so because it also would mean less money for them.

These elected individuals wouldn’t need to know anything about the business; they would only need to get elected. By the very nature of their election, they could then make the decisions about the business, even though they knew very little about it. They also could use their influence to get their relatives hired and promoted to better positions that paid more. In addition, they would make sure their favorite projects had business funds spent on them: sports facilities, lunches, music uniforms, etc.

The board of directors also would hire and fire the business’s chief executive officer and chief operating officer. So if the CEO and COO did something the board members didn’t like, they would just fire them. This could be done because the CEO and COO didn’t come from that geographic zone. (Individuals could go to different zones for work; the business had to hire all of those in that zone who did not choose to go elsewhere for work.) Some boards would spend most of their time fighting each other, so very few substantive decisions would be made about the business.

Reports would be made and printed out in the newspapers and reported in the electronic media about how and why the businesses in America weren’t competitive in the global market. Comparisons would be made about the amount of subsidies the businesses got from the government. Managers and bosses would be verbally abused at every turn for failure to be competitive. Never mind that in other countries of the world businesses were allowed to operate differently. In other countries of the world, it wasn’t expected that businesses would employ everyone in their geographic zone—or that they would be responsible for the homeless, the mentally ill, the medically fragile, those with special needs. It also wouldn’t be expected that everyone in a given business would be engineers. Furthermore, in other countries of the world, if an employee created disturbances at work, he/she was fired. Most businesses elsewhere in the world were allowed to specialize and select.

The government could put pressure on the businesses by saying it was mostly the fault of the businesses that corporations in America weren’t competitive with others in the world. Managers and bosses would be to blame. Boards would be exempt from the blame as would the employees. The managers and the bosses would be videotaped to see how they interacted with the employees. Again, there would be little attempt to look at productivity—what the employees actually did. But the businesses would give a paper/pencil test to the employees to test their knowledge. Some of the employees would speak a different language, would have only been working in the business for a couple of months (anyone in the geographic zone had to be employed immediately), and perhaps could not even read the test—no matter.

If the United States were to adopt this model with corporations and businesses, think about how much money could be saved. No unemployment! No welfare! No prisons! Hospitals could make a profit on their emergency rooms because the corporations would be providing nurses. Never mind that the businesses themselves would be having difficulty making a profit. All the government would need to do is tell them the amount of profit they should have. If they failed to make that amount of money, the government could chastise them in the newspapers and the electronic media for their failure to turn a profit.

Last but not least, school people could serve as consultants to businesses and show them how to improve their profit margins. What a blessing that would be for the businesses of America.

The point is this:  Schools are inclusive and relational.  Businesses are competitive and autonomous.

It is almost impossible to make the two compatible.  Is it even desirable?


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This post was written by Ruby Payne


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