America's First Calls for Economic Democracy

Seeking an originalist argument to justify your outcry over wealth inequality? Look no further.

The Founding FathersArguments over the intentions of the Founding Fathers are usually relegated to important yet rarified fields like constitutional law. In circles like those, it is taken seriously whether or not we can divine guidance on complicated social issues—gay marriage, campaign finance, civil liberties and so on—from the central players in our national mythology.

Despite usually being held in legalese, these debates are influential, and invoking the sacrosanct spirits of those long-dead lawmen instantly gives your argument credit.

So it is that the likes of Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and even Wall Street’s favorite Founding Father, Hamilton, have been brought to the defense of the new economy movement. Writing of our forebears’ opinions of stock ownership on PBS’ NewsHour blog, Richard Freeman and Joseph Blasi explain that the economic system set forth in early American policy encouraged economic democracy. If you need an originalist argument to justify your outcry over wealth inequality, look no further.

Whether or not the Founding Fathers encouraged employee ownership, we think it’s time we went further than they could have envisioned.

With every new project we take on at TESA, we see that workplace democracy puts ownership and decision-making power in the hands of everyday people. We think that innovation starts here, and this is why we focus on education.

Training for everyday democracy empowers people and allows for new forms of organizing. After all, what the flourishing new economy movement yields will not look like the populist capitalism described by Freeman and Blasi’s Founding Fathers, but something unique, guided by entirely new leaders.