Seizing the Opportunity
The New Zealand Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Jacinda Ardern, in her speech to the United Nations (September ’21) spoke of New Zealander's shared values of kindness and connectedness, manaakitanga and whanaungatanga, and also a shared aspiration and unity toward a common goal, kotahitanga (Unity).
The Prime Minister said in her meeting with the President of the United States (30.05.22) that ‘We are in an incredibly difficult International environment and domestically it is challenging as well’. The writer believes that the Maori culture of New Zealand has much to contribute in addressing issues of the times. Looking at the current world situation how can we most effectively bring the value of the Maori proverb ‘He aha te mea nui o te ao What is the most important thing in the world?
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata
It is the people, it is the people, it is the people’ into our lives. This paper suggests a small refinement to capitalism that makes business and work situations more people centric.
We are facing the difficult issue of overcoming the coronavirus and facing the prospect of coronavirus being an ongoing impact on our health, we are living with geopolitical maneuverings with a war in Ukraine causing horrific suffering on innocent lives, the war is creating massive food shortages in populations least capable of coping with the hardship and we have the major issue of containing global warming. The writer believes that Maori cultural values have much to contribute in these difficult times.
I can see that Karl Marx was correct in predicting that capitalism would create an increase in alienation. His comments were more in relation to increased industrialisation and the breakup of trades into divisions of labour, but there has also been an effect socially. Why is it that in an age of higher standards of living that we have such high levels of anti-depressant drug use, high levels of suicide and increase in anti social activity amongst youths?
Capitalism through its evolution has undoubtedly been beneficial to living standards for the vast majority. Capitalism’s evolution, however, has also been subject to lobbying by vested interests to the point that we have vested financial interests in corporates that are now larger than national economies and it appears that that financial power is influencing geopolitical maneuverings'.
An important psychological need of people is the sense of belonging to, or being part of, a wider grouping. Despite being beneficial to living standards capitalism seems to have undermined that sense of belonging and perhaps the high levels of antidepressant use and high levels of suicide are results of an increased feeling of alienation within society.
We can take a lead from the Maori proverb ‘What is the most important thing in the world? It is the people. It is the people. It is the people.
This inclusive concept is the antidote to existing social alienation and stresses from coronavirus, climate change, inequality issues and now geopolitical war mongering that is inflicting horrific casualties on innocent people. The ensuing social cohesion will beneficially impact on health, happiness and hope. It meets the needs of improving productivity and living standards for all, provides for a wider sense of purpose, breaks down inequality, and quite probably reduces health budgets, and all these whilst retaining a defining tenet of capitalism i.e. opportunities for entrepreneurship and wealth creation.
We know from a reading of Yuval Harari's book 'Sapiens' that established institutions are not necessarily functioning in the most advantageous way. As Harari showed us they are not based on an objective reality but rather they are myths that have been agreed upon as they evolved. Although they are not functioning in the most advantageous way, humankind is very resistant to change. Is it not time to challenge that resistance and consider a more people centric form of capitalism, a capitalism workplace framework that is inclusive and not alienating? A framework of a common bond that all employees qualify for equally that will give higher productivity, improved social cohesion, more collaboration with managers, more employee loyalty, more employee engagement, improved social and physical health benefits, more hope and happiness, a potential breakdown of inequality and all these benefits whilst still retaining free enterprise and the potential for wealth creation by entrepreneurs. A common need in human society across all cultures is the need to belong and be accepted by others. Abraham Maslow ranked the need for belonging as the next level up after physiological needs (like food and sleep) and safety needs in his 'Hierarchy of Needs'.
A sense of belonging is crucial to our life satisfaction, happiness, mental and physical health and even longevity. It gives us a sense of purpose and meaning. Research has shown that loss of belonging has been associated with stress, illness and decreased wellbeing and depression.
The concept has received encouraging comments in the past such as Sir Tipene O’Regan, when Chairman of Ngai Tahu, said 'Your concept has a clear fit with a Maori model' and Sir Paul Reeves, Governor General 'It is inappropriate that I comment on your concept but I urge you to persevere with what you are trying to achieve'.
Sometimes it can be that minor refinements can have wide reaching outcomes and especially when the innovation has universal application.
We have an opportunity in our recovery from the coronavirus and in the now more urgent issue of halting climate change to initiate a refinement to capitalism for progressive management businesses that will build on the valuable Maori proverb and those New Zealand values referred to by the Prime Minister.
In these critical times I am reminded of a quote from Albert Einstein ‘In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity’.
During this coronavirus crisis and the increasingly more urgent concerns of climate change I have detected a growing worldwide consensus of ‘Let us not go back to normal’ e.g.
and calls for a more caring form of capitalism,
The initiative being proposed is a minor refinement to capitalism termed ‘Co-operative Capitalism’ (www.co-operativecapitalism.com) or the ‘Kotahi Initiative’ or ‘Mahi Tahi Initiative’ that gives us a more people centric capitalism, which will dovetail with the Maori he tangata, he tangata, he tangata.
The following is an extract from the latest Blog Post - August '21 on the website www.co-operativecapitalism.com , giving an updated summary of the concept.
‘Co-operative Capitalism - Reasserting our humanity through co-operation – an updated summary
The co-operative capitalism concept creates a common bond for all employees, the common bond being entitlement to a co-operation payment (mahi tahi payment, or kotahi payment) at the end of a successful financial year. Co-operation payments are a second tier, not guaranteed, level of remuneration. Our first tier of remuneration is our standard employment remuneration which is already in place for all employees. It is a prerequisite that an employee’s standard remuneration must be at a fair and equitable level.
Entitlement to co-operation payments (mahi tahi payments) is incremental up to a maximum of four qualifying units graduated on years of service but it is the same for ALL employees, including senior executives. The transparency of applying entitlements is conducive to create a team culture and trust in the framework and a talking point between all employees. The important differing aspect of co-operation payments is that they are not an individual performance bonus; it is a cooperative culture common bond - the cement that binds the co-operative team together.
It is proposed that in time a government will allow for annual co-operation payments to be recorded separately from PAYE on Tax returns and will be taxed at a fixed low tax rate for ALL employees, regardless of their current tax rate on PAYE. By taxing co-operation payments at a fixed low rate for ALL employees, the government will be encouraging teamwork and cooperative cultures in participating workplaces, and thereby dramatically improving productivity. This will not result in a reduction of tax revenue as there will be a phased introduction accompanied by increased productivity and profitability. The framework can be applied to any workplace of more than three employees and has a constraint that an employee’s co-operative payments cannot exceed 20% of standard employee remuneration.
Progressive management teams embarking on a co-operative capitalism framework will acknowledge employee co-partnership in success as distinct from investor co-partners in success and is a giant leap forward in industrial relations.
The co-operative capitalism concept is supported by American research findings on human motivation as detailed in Daniel Pink's book 'Drive' published in 2009 by Riverhead.
This framework creates a climate where employees are more involved in the workings of capitalism and the common bond of co-operation payments ensures that they act as a teamwork community and not as property brought together and used to earn a return on other people’s capital.’
The following details some of the potential benefits a business enterprise will realise: -
Co-operative capitalism Blog Posts
This innovative initiative will naturally become a focal point for new attitudes.
We are indeed privileged to be citizens of this paradise whenua, and New Zealand is superbly positioned to provide a lead that I believe humankind needs now.
Co-operative capitalism is a relatively simple concept, a minor refinement to capitalism, and probably a refinement having far greater outcomes than predicted.
What entrepreneur would not want all employees motivated for the success of their employing enterprise. It is an inclusive concept that includes employees becoming familiar with the workings of capitalism.
It has always been my hope that it would be New Zealand that would lead the world with this evolutionary refinement in capitalism.
The companies that make the best use of their human capital will be the winners.
To overcome mankind’s resistance to change we need enlightened, visionary leaders and bold, progressive politicians.
History shows us that any attempt to change the status quo becomes an interminably long struggle, regardless of how obvious the logic or the need for change. For example, many people were outspoken against slavery in the 1760’s, yet it was not until 1833 that the Abolishment of Slavery Act was passed in the British Parliament and in the end, it is Wilberforce and his parliamentary colleagues that history has credited with the achievement.
Any attempt to refine capitalism will, on that basis, not occur until long after I have passed but I have to express my conviction and I am sure that today’s teenagers will be grateful growing into a more inclusive co-operative culture.
In time we will establish a new paradigm for business work places initiated by Maori cultural values which may become known as ‘the NZ way’.