Can Nebraskans Rethink Capitalism? Is the Financial Gap Between Workers and CEOs Still Acceptable?

Lynn Forester de Rothschild spoke to Pope Francis about capitalism: "We are learning all too slowly the lessons of environmental deterioration," said the Holy Father. Later: “By itself, the market cannot guarantee integral human development and social inclusion.”

As business owners across Nebraska scratch their heads about finding and hiring high quality workers, a new consideration emerges: maybe the mindset that pervades the typical business culture - push down costs, replace people with technology, raise prices steadily and finally: fire anyone who asks for more money or help with childcare or mental health - is pushing potential employee applicants away.

Lynn Forester de Rothschild has come to realize that while she and her white collar associates have enjoyed the fruits of capitalism, not all have fared so well. Many workers are struggling to get by. Affordable housing is hard to find. The environment is in serious trouble (consider the ethanol debacle in Mead). Government often cleans up the private sector’s messes.

Back in the eighties, the mantra was, "Greed is good." Ayn Rand inspired the idea that if you pursue your interests, all of society is lifted. But no one envisioned the disparity and inequality that would evolve between managers and workers.

In the 1960s, Forester de Rothschild points out, the ratio of C.E.O. pay to average worker pay was 25 to one. Today it is 320 to one!

Sounding much like Charles Handy, the business visionary from Oxford who referred to businesses as "villages" and proposed that "everyone should have a vote," she added: "It’s time that we create a more level playing field with respect to worker voice and worker involvement. This is hard stuff, because it can impact profit."

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