The American Dream
America is a democracy and we believe in free enterprise.
Let's look at that for a moment: Democracy is majority rule. Groupthink. “United we stand, divided we fall.” But the key to business – free enterprise – is to have an absolute dictator.
In America's system of free enterprise, the person whose money is at risk is the person who gets to decide. Wrong or right, foolish or wise, whoever has the gold makes the rules. And that's the way it should be.
So while America's social system is a democracy, individualized financial dictatorship is the foundation of our economy.
Apply democratic principles to a business economy and what do you get? Socialism, if you do it softly. Do it for real and you've got Communism, the biggest economic disaster of the 20th century.
Strange, isn't it? A democracy will have an economic system based on Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest, “It's a dog eat dog world and I'm about to wolf your poodle, pal.” But a society ruled by a dictator will usually have an economic system of financial democracy, “Everyone will work for the good of all and everyone will share alike.”
Strange, isn't it? Social democracies have financial dictators and social dictators have financial democracies.
The American Dream requires that businesses be controlled by two financial dictators. One of these dictators is the business owner. The other is the customer.
Employees: If you don't like the rules of your dictator, you can go to work for someone else. Heck, you can even go to work for yourself. But if you're an unwise financial dictator, the bank and the IRS will come and haul away your stuff. Welcome to America.
Customers: If you don't prefer the person you bought from yesterday, buy from someone else tomorrow. God Bless America: Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.
I share these untidy and discomforting thoughts with you only as a warning: Don't introduce democratic principles into your business. I've seen it done too many times to count, and always by the kindest and best of my clients. And it has always ended badly.
A strong business requires a strong dictator.
Hey, don't get mad. I don't have a social or political agenda here, I'm just sharing an observation that's been tumbling through my head.
“The American Dream” isn't the dream of a great society. It's the dream of personal wealth.
I'm not saying that's the way it should be.
Roy H. Williams
PS – Do you remember my middle-of-the-night diner challenge in the January 9, Monday Morning Memo titled Inside the Outside? Well, my throwing down the gauntlet, “only twelve will do it,” emboldened 114 readers to crawl under that fence. I plan to have Thomas and Barry build a website to archive and honor these stories. Some of them are utterly fabulous. I'm extremely happy with the results of our little group experiment and am planning an initiation that will roll everyone's socks up and down. Stay tuned. – RHW