Can Employee-Owned Companies Reboot the Economy?

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The American worker isn’t doing so well. The median wage earner’s pay hasn’t grown in years, while most economic growth is being captured only by the already wealthy. While these problems are well-documented, finding a solution for the average wage-earner’s plight has been more difficult.

In a new book out this month, The Citizen’s Shareauthors Joseph Blasi, Douglas L. Kruse, and Richard B. Freeman (a sociologist and two economists, respectively) offer a novel solution: If owners of businesses are reaping the rewards of economic growth at the expense of workers, then why not just try to increase the number of workers who also own a piece of the firms that employ them?

The impulse toward broadly extending property ownership is a one that has a long history in America. The authors recount how the founding fathers were staunchly opposed to European traditions which required property to be passed down to first born sons. Some of the first federal programs ever instituted were efforts to support property ownership among the working class. One such scheme was a cod fishing subsidy that was aimed at helping the then-integral industry recover from the Revolutionary War, but which required any businesses that took the benefit to pass along their subsidies to their workers in the form of profit sharing.

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The propensity towards widespread property ownership culminated in the the Homestead Acts, which between 1862 and its repeal more than 100 years later was a powerful force for helping the landless masses obtain a stake in American society’s success. The authors write:

“Between 1862 and 1938, 10 percent of the landmass of the United States–nearly the area of Texas and California combined–was claimed and settled by 1.6 million homesteads under the different Homestead Acts. This represents about 20 percent of all public land and is comparable to all the land granted to states and sold or awarded to corporations and land grant colleges.”

America has long since run out of empty land, but luckily for us, we no longer live in an agricultural economy where land is the prime ingredient in economic output. The most productive resources are companies, and unlike land, there’s technically no limit to the amount of corporate property that can be created and owned. We really can all have a piece of the pie.

As Blasi, Kruse, and Freeman note, there are plenty examples of companies practicing what they call “broad-based capitalism,” or a management style that promotes employees participating in generous profit sharing or employee ownership programs. They point out that some of the most dynamic and successful technology companies today like Google and Microsoft, encourage widespread employee ownership of stock.

But it’s not just big tech firms with highly skilled workers that successfully incorporate employee ownership into their business models. In fact, some of the most notable firms practicing a pure form of employee ownership — meaning that workers own a controlling interest in the firm — are actually privately-held grocers.

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That’s right, the largest employee-owned firm in America is the Florida-based grocer Publix. According to Forbes Magazine, the retailer is the seventh largest private firm in America with $27.5 billion in sales, yet it manages to run a smooth and growing operation with an employee-owned fund controlling 80% of the company.

Another high-profile employee owned grocer is the Idaho-based WinCo which supermarket analyst Burt Flickinger III has called “WalMart’s worst nightmare.” WinCo is owned wholly by an employee stock ownership fund, and has quiely been making inroads in the western United States with its no-frills approach to retailing and very competitive prices.

Other notable firms with cultures of employee participation include Proctor & Gamble, Southwest Airlines, and Hyvee, just to name a few. And despite high-profile failures of employee-owned firms, like United Airlines, the authors’ research shows that on average, firms which give their employees an ownership stake are more productive, more innovative, and are more desirable workplaces for employees. As the authors put it, “[employee ownership] pays off, at least for those firms and workers that choose it.”

And the successes of these companies, combined with the unique troubles the average American worker is suffering, make it plausible that expanding employee ownership could be a solution to the problems of stagnating worker compensation and rising income inequality. The authors suggest a number of steps to encourage Corporate America to rely more on employee ownership in their structures, including tax incentives and the liberalization of state-based restrictions on the type of companies that can be incorporated.

But what is most important is most likely spurring a broad commitment to increasing property ownership. This concept is unfashionable in the hangover from the real estate bubble, when we can clearly see that the government erred in its efforts to extend homeownership to every American. But there are obvious differences between owning a home — which isn’t an income producing asset for most Americans — and owning a small slice of where you work. Even the indigent need a place to live, though they might not be able to handle the responsibilities of homeownership. But every working American — and the American economy in general — could benefit from having a greater stake in their company’s success than hoping it survives long enough to keep cutting them paychecks.

6 comments
crosen109
crosen109

Hmmm...that well-known socialist Ronald Reagan thought employee ownership was a great idea. There are as many Republican supporters of employee ownership as Democratic ones, including lots of Tea Part members.

Employee ownership is the ultimate in capitalism -- lots more owners of privately held wealth (socialism is government ownership of the means of production, not this). As the Web site of the nonprofit National Center for Employee Ownership shows in an article summarizing academic research on this topic (http://www.nceo.org/articles/research-employee-ownership-corporate-performance), employee ownership companies generate 2.5% more jobs per year than they would have without employee ownership, generate employee retirement savings 2.5 times as large, and are one-third to one-fourth as likely to lay people off during the prior year as conventional firms.

U.S. tax law makes these plans very attractive, especially as a means of business transition. Owners can get a capital gains tax deferral for sales to the plans and find them with pre-tax corporate earnings.


daridekas
daridekas

Those are socialistic ideas who have been proven wrong by history since long time ago.

admin2:invetrics

drudown
drudown

Why Palin Can’t Go Back To Her Old Home

Ah, me- no world leader goeth alone, much less address the real challenges facing our time.

Oh, for God’s sakes “fracking” water is already radioactive…so please don’t make the People “puke” with puff pieces purporting to show “how the US is [enter dramatic Halloween screech] somehow falling behind”… or that “the EPA dropped its ‘fracking’ study that involved flammable garden hose water yet another time.” That’s just more obfuscation, not unlike denying Climate Change is real or some other shopworn trick.

People in the Nation need to "wake up" and see that this "Tea Party" charade is a pretext for Foreign Influences to corrupt our political process under the auspices of "partisan politics." The fact nobody in the GOP (or Congress) has the common sense to tell Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin to "shut up" and stop undermining US military diplomacy tends to prove that the GOP has no heart, no guts and no loyalty to the People at all.

What a sad Veteran's day for our soldiers serving abroad...to see some corrupt, ignorant GOP flunky purport to undermine our own Commander in Chief's authority at home simply because the Foreign funded Tea Party pays these people to say so. Just this: the SAME GOP supporters that felt united with their democrats BROTHERS after 9/11…apparently have no real guts and cannot even police their own self-mutilating, "magic" Filibuster wand waving GOP brethren from turning our Constitution on its head.

And for what reason exactly? “Because of the 9/11 dead.” Nonsense.

The JUDGMENT of our 9/11 departed souls…SCOLDS the GOP leaders in Congress SANCTIONING such Filibuster abuse….The JUDGMENT of our 9/11 departed souls…SCOLDS the GOP leaders in Congress SANCTIONING such NSA abuse….The JUDGMENT of our 9/11 departed souls…SCOLDS the GOP leaders in Congress SANCTIONING such "no new taxes, ever" abuse….The JUDGMENT of our 9/11 departed souls…SCOLDS the GOP leaders in Congress SANCTIONING such poisoning of our potable water in drought conditions via "fracking" abuse….The JUDGMENT of our 9/11 departed souls…SCOLDS the GOP leaders in Congress SANCTIONING such divisive, undermining verbal abuse of the COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF OUR MILITARY….

My God, what happened to your American souls?

Bought for a cheap hooker and super-PAC "gift" along with an army of online GOP PR trolls?

Just this: can someone in the (once mighty) media start to investigate whether or not, inter alia, either Ted Cruz, Rand Paul or Sarah Palin have received or tried to use the GOP lobbyist regime to shroud donations from Foreign Influences (via Campaign Contributions from the OPEC states)? The "Libertarian" movement has NO loyalty to America. Whether trying to THWART the ACA…or trying to "rationalize" the egregious crimes against the Bill of Rights by the NSA…

Their TREASON and SEDITION goes inexplicably un-prosecuted to this very day.

Tell me, Mr. or Mrs. Voter:

Do you- or do you not- unequivocally SUPPORT the United States Military?

If so, HOW CAN YOU EVER AGAIN VOTE for the "shut down the government" GOP when doing so irreparably and unnecessarily LIMITED- and will again LIMIT our Military's very ability to provide for the Common Defense? Pursuant to the EXPRESS LANGUAGE of the Constitution the same GOP "leaders" claimed required a "strict construction" no less.

What, the GOP Congress "doesn't have to follow the law" (i.e., here to do so means doing its Article I, Section 8 "job") because the Foreign-funded Tea Party "pays" the Congress to "just take more vacation" and "cite an alleged hatred for OUR OWN President" as some sick and demented expression of "partisan justification?"

The "serpent party" poisoning our ONLY FRESH WATER supply upon which our children, crops and commerce DEPEND (see, e.g., 'Gas Land' documentary) IS the Tea Party-led GOP and- make no mistake- the GOP has been apparently "bribed" to the extent it "believes' it is "above the law" and can "end Social Security" despite the Constitution that will not bend.

Taken to its illogical conclusion, the same GOP members of Congress that REFUSE to FOLLOW FEDERAL LAW and RAISE TAXES (er, simply COLLECT them from US Corporations; see, e.g., "We're Not Broke" documentary) by, what, citing some "pledge" to the LOBBYIST vowing his intention (i.e., criminal mens rea) to "DROWN THE GOVERNMENT IN THE BATHTUB" seem to believe in their NON-CHRISTIAN HEARTS AND MINDS that declaring "war on the poor" is not the same as just using lethal force with a club?

Tell me, Speaker Boehner, Sen. Graham and Count Cantor…how is the "cut the blue collar worker's/elderly woman's/poor children's dependence on Food Stamps" not the OPPOSITE of what the Bible teachings are for?

I am hereby declaring "war" on you as true Americans and true Christians.

Your LEGAL OBLIGATION to RAISE TAXES precludes any "self-perceived discretion"…not simply to even effectuate your LOBBYIST-driven, pre-meditated "shut down" of the government costing the US TAXPAYERS $180 BILLION in LOSSES

It's the shameless nature of your abrogation of the very FUNCTIONS of your office for which the PEOPLE tender you a salary that renders your Christian Faith as illusory as your greed-driven lies nailed to plastic crosses.

Worse of all, both the unnecessary "sequester cuts" contravene that express language of Article I, Section 8. And here again, like the myriad ACA "news" articles purporting to (evil robot voice) "invalidate, invalidate,  invalidate"…property rights that the rule of law has deemed to be PROTECTED by the Constitution you claim 9/11 allows the GOP to cast aside. Well, here is the Supreme Court's ruling on the Bush Administration's NSA program and- like every other Despotic "justification" proffered by the GOP to stab Lady Liberty- the actual, dispassionate evidence…proves you lied.

You all LIED to the People that 9/11 wasn't the Saudis that you work with (see, e.g., "Loose Change: 9/11" documentary) and now pump "fracking" poison into our children's rightful veins…it's that you expect the People to remain listless and impotent as the blood of JFK will not wash off the Bush family so easily and arguably still remains (see, e.g., "Dark Legacy" documentary).

"Truth fears no trial." - Thomas Fuller, MD


drudown
drudown

"Opportunity makes a thief." - Francis Bacon

So please.

If there is a SINGLE, HONORABLE member left of the GOP…perhaps the time has come to serve the People with HONOR and INTEGRITY and RAISE REVENUE for the Common Defense and People's General Welfare... and instead of this shopworn, incorrigible inability to even address the COST/BENEFIT of State Action for the People, e.g., say, juxtaposing the incidental "costs" or "inconvenience" of the few hundreds or thousands of people that allegedly "desperately" want to keep their NON-CONFORMING, CONSUMER PROTECTION-LESS pre-ACA policies against the TRILLIONS the US Treasury will save over the next 150 years.

“There are times when even justice brings harm with it.” - Sophocles

 How can ANYONE even whisper "abolishing" the ACA without approximating the fiscal cost of “repealing” or "defunding" Obamacare- that is, approximate the ACTUAL, out-of-pocket cost including, but not limited to (1) the rising, unsustainable costs of Health Care under the prior format to be reinstated [i.e., with ZERO guarantees whatsoever they won’t be HIGHER]; (2) the direct and indirect costs to date of passing Obamacare and implementation [i.e., what, do you think the People don’t absorb the ACTUAL costs to date if the GOP gets to “repeal” or “undo” Obamacare?] and (3) then add, of course, the direct and indirect costs of "changing back to the old laws."

 So….can somebody in the Several States (and/or that is "good with a calculator" at the CBO)…run these projected numbers for the People immediately? That way, the "paid for" 'expert witnesses' with a financial bias on TV to subvert the best interests of the People in inflammatory fashion (e.g., Palin) would have to reconcile the self-evident, fiscal imprudence of "dropping Obamacare" due to basic PROHIBITIVE COST and focus on the immediate INJURY of the GOP Congress' unlawful rendition of "jury nullification"…dispassionately.

Incredibly, the "paid for" Media conspicuously omits ANY reference that the entire GOP members of Congress and, sadly, many GOP elated officials in the Several States are hell-bent on thwarting the implementation of the ACA, as if, in there end, such refusal to Faithfully Execute the Supreme Law of the Land does not, under the totality of the circumstances, exacerbate the purported "problems" cited as a pretext to (what else) "abolish" what has yet to even be put into its streamlined functioning. But can we ALL just agree that it can't be "both."

Sorry, one cannot credibly “cite the low enrollment numbers” without dispassionately holding this smear campaign face to face, much less cite the alleged “rise in Health Care costs” without also calculating the "troubling" number of the ACTUAL, OUT-OF-POCKET COSTS to United States TAXPAYERS- not just to date, but ongoing- that have proximately resulted from GOP officials refusing to FAITHFULLY EXECUTE THE LAW OF THE LAND. What, the "stay on permanent vacation" GOP Congress is going to predictably pretend it is "too rushed" to fulfill its EXPRESS OBLIGATION to perform its PLENARY POWER to TAX and SPEND "in time for the next fabricated fiscal crisis"? The People's DUE PROCESS RIGHTS to a STRONG and SOLVENT Military/Police/Fire/EMT/FBI cannot be so easily thwarted by Foreign money strangling the GOP.

Gee, isn't it amazing what the following would do for the Federal government (and therefore the Several States): (1) close all Corporate loopholes; (2) retroactively "capture" losses from said Corporate loopholes for those with excess of $1mm profits annually [while offering future tax deductions/subsidies in the future to offset losses]; (3) allow Corporations to "repatriate" the TRILLIONS in offshore profits with flat tax [e.g., 15%]; and (4) materially reduce unnecessary agencies [e.g., Homeland Security] that can be replicated by simply passing surplus funds to Several States [e.g., directly to State, County and Municipal Police/Fire/EMT] and "reorganize" or "absorb" Homeland Security into Pentagon or the DOD. Moreover, enter into CREATIVE FINANCING VEHICLES with the UK, EU and Russia. Again, BUT FOR actual, provable BRIBERY purporting to "limit" or "prevent" the Congress from RAISING REVENUE…what, pray tell, is the "counter argument" to such basic fiscal prudence?

"Thy love afar is spite at home." - Emerson

drudown
drudown

"Morality is a private and costly luxury." Henry Adams

We are the World's Most Powerful Military and our unwavering Diplomatic Unity with the UK, EU and Russia is all we need as "consideration" to conclusively "remedy" this ridiculous and utterly inhumane "Austerity" path that, like "fracking" our own FRESH WATER supply for NO COMPELLING STATE JUSTIFICATION at all…needs to be ABOLISHED along with the Democracy-thwarting Filibuster- not "weeks from now", but this week. For God's sake where is the leadership in our Several States' government across the United States DEMANDING the Filibuster be abolished for the Despotic device it has proven to be?

What, does the GOP and its FAUX NEWS propaganda machine really believe that the OPEC-funded "no new taxes, ever" + "frack our remaining fresh water" + "kill all entitlements" is actually anything OTHER than Foreign Money trying to WEAKEN the aforementioned USA, UK, EU and Russia indirectly, over time by means that it actually has in hand? That is…illimitable petrodollars hidden under the sand?

It is officially "time for new ideas" and officially time for the GOP to "wake up" from the Tea Party treachery when it is UNDISPUTED that the lack of transparency and deliberate obstruction of Democracy and Diplomacy has gone too far. Tell me, why SHOULD ANY AMERICAN CITIZEN…of any race, culture, gender, sex, sexual orientation or creed…"hate one another" in the selfsame manner the Nazi party in pre-WWII tried to breed?

We are ALL Americans, we are ALL once RACE and ONE NATION under GOD.

Who can credibly contend the Tea Party's agendas do not betray Jesus' most basic humanitarian teachings? That "deregulation" is as undesirable upon further reflection for the People and the environment and marine ecosystem the World Community- that is, East and West live in a symbiotic whole and Ying Yang embrace- this "chaos" the Tea Party sows subverts every ethical precept the sages of Western Civilization stand for and contravenes the Scientific FACT humanity is ONE RACE.

Pity the stags of NATO and the G8 cannot have their strategic partnership abandoned on account of seemingly useless and arguably wholly fabricated "Snowden disclosures" placed by a Foreign puppeteer as inartfully as the hunter regains his footing after betrayal of the senses, and still takes aim at the Foreign deer.

With Federal surplus, there is no limit to what can be achieved: job training; job creation; tax increment financing-type vehicles; secured lending to small businesses at lowest rates; tax subsidies to most important market players; increased regulatory oversight; subsidized hazardous waste/"fracking" water disposal, et al.

How is that not preferable to cutting the Social Safety net after "outsourcing" the US industrial/manufacturing base and slowly withering away in place?

But doesn't that just underscore the CORRUPTION of the fanged serpent Tea Party that slithered down Lady Liberty's blinded blouse? Namely, the GOP Congress/Governors are "fighting" the TRILLION-DOLLAR-BUDGET-saving ACA that [lo and behold] also improves the quality and access to Health Care FOR AMERICANS "with everything they've got" only to "shut down" the government in some unlawful Seditious and arguably Treasonous conspiracy based on no laws or Constitutional authority whatsoever.

Simply the partisan hate that will, if not stopped now, "support" Fascism as foreseeably as "no new taxes, ever" will lead to our societal decay and cultural rot.

You aren't real Americans and your denial of Global Warming's peril is the easiest "litmus test" of your corruption- just like "fracking will poison the American People to death if it continues as planned by Bin Laden" you can strangle freedoms but not Science- for unlike your "feigned" confusion over the WMD intelligence and Benghazi red herring intended to Seditiously trick the People into doubting our own Commander in Chief, humanity's shared Science is beyond dispute…and already taught.

Like drudown- and the rule of law engraved upon the eternal Constitution that I bow down to serve… Science cannot be bought.

“The future struggles that it may not become the past.” – Publilius Syrus

drudown
drudown

“Whatever limits us, we call fate.” - Emerson

Lo and behold, again and again it seems Hansel and Gretel’s bread crumbs lead back to the OPEC states…if it isn’t some fabricated “need” for “regime change” in Iran (e.g., despite UN Sanctions deigned to prevent such alleged nuclear proliferation), the utter destitution created by Colonialism and greedy hoarding of the Arab ruling elite renders basic corruption too easy to effectively police. That is why “Syria” or “Egypt” or “Iran” is, in the end, as much of a Fool’s errand for the United States and only a mad Despot so insulated from reality would set the table with such a suicidal plate.

The leaders and policy makers of ANY Arab or Persian state should not think for one second that the United States, UK, EU and Russia are not waiting in silent repose, figurative swords sheathed upon Iran's good faith indication to build new and improved Diplomatic roads that serves ALL stakeholders' best interests. 
Away with this shopworn saber rattling over Iran when we have, what “successfully starved its citizens as best UN Sanctions can”? The “inextinguishable strife” in the Middle East yet another probative piece of evidence justifying the proposed form of an Executive Agreement that could- unlike any futile “effort to arm and train” a disorganized band of even less loyal “freedom fighters” (wait, it depends, could be “insurgents” or “security forces”- that is, the way the wind might blows a propaganda flyer down a Syrian street as unthreshed crops and demolished dreams are quickly flames burning higher… and higher.

O Mother Russia- is it not time for the great aforementioned powers of Western Civilization return to Yalta this time, however, to negotiate a Global Settlement to immediately remedy the unspoken legacy of hundreds of years of European Colonialism such that, joined in unprecedented Diplomatic unity, incalculable Stimulus Funds can be dispersed to provide ongoing Economic Development with an eye toward JOB GROWTH and turning away completely from any “ideological” memes but rather, to see this “Global Settlement” to function as an “Installment Contract” (“Diplomatic Stimulus” payments of, say, $5 Trillion US Dollars every year for ten years) to effectuate our SHARED Founding Fathers’ and European/Asian progenitors’ dreams of a mutual prosperity, i.e., as the People in each sovereign can finally celebrate the ‘emancipation proclamation’ from Foreign OPEC funded and economically contracting “Austerity”. Taken to its illogical conclusion, what, the PEOPLE of the US, EU, UK and Russia cannot simply “reset” the purported measure of their collective or imagined “debt” with a mere Executive Agreement that touch and concerns the multifaceted issues of, among other things, Colonialism’ legacy in the 3rd World, insurmountable obligations incurred by previous generations that can unilaterally “agree” to Disperse Stimulus in furtherance of Economic Stability.

By way of example, how, pray tell, would Russia leading the way “rebuilding Syria”- and thereby addressing the Syrian citizens’ need for JOB GROWTH not vastly outweigh the OPEC “plan” to manipulate the US Military into another “shock and awe” campaign that simply perpetuates the “chaos” and MISERY in the Middle East (i.e., thereby fueling terrorism from before 9/11 to this very day? In the US, the saying in election years “it’s the economy stupid” should likewise “turn the gears” in the minds and hearts of Arab and Persian men that- despite all the conditioning from the Arab Ruling Elite and Persian/Islamic Clerics- can even reconcile with Israel and be friends. In short, the Executive Agreement could create the functional equivalent of “Diplomatic Stimulus Redevelopment Zones” whereby the US, Russia, EU and UK could jointly and evenly award contracts to their own respective Corporations and brightest minds in a wide array of public/private partnerships with Colonies desiring Stimulus Funds and improved infrastructure.

Above all, because each participating Colony in these vast Redevelopment Zones could provide substantial labor and raw materials for such large-scale Infrastructure, Renewable Energy and Desalination/Irrigation projects [i.e.,, to materially offset Desertification] this cyclical process would provide the World Community with the greatest Economic Boost since the Discovery of the Colonies themselves. Here, however, the UK, EU, Russia and US could thoughtfully plan out the most efficient and environmentally sustainable blueprint that could, quite simply, serve as a template for different participating sovereigns- including, of course, the UK, EU, Russia and US itself.

What, pray tell, is the “alternative”? The Oil and Gas industry slowly strips away the habitable, functioning ecosystems one rainforest and indigenous culture at a time? Away with the contrived “liberal vs. conservative” ideology.

The Diplomatic Unity and Executive Agreement is like an ax handle wielded like a Sickle to provide for ALL of the United States citizens and immigrants woven into our Nation’s fabric- not unlike the steady wave of immigrants arriving on the EU’s shore, as if by magic.

This dynamic alone, coupled with the exigent circumstances of Global Warming affecting the World Community’s shared marine fish stocks seems to militate in favor of, for example, industrial sized coastal farming, tuna and salmon farming projects for the US, Russia, UK and EU to feed their own and all of Asia combined. Nothing, Beloved, can limit the breadth and ingenuity of the Diplomatic mind.

Nobody can credibly contend the “Libertarian Loch Ness Monster” or “government is the problem Leprechaun” is, gee, going to “magically appear” in the needs-to-be-reconstructed Philippines (much less without combined Diplomatic Stimulus for “free”), Tsnunami-ravaged parts of Japan needing assistance with nuclear issues to say nothing of the Texas-sized trash heap floating with Libertarian names fixed to its unmoved features, like the former’s ideological sheep. Either the Diplomatic Stimulus is going to take the most bold and effective remedial actions, or it should take none at all.

The People of the US, UK, EU and Russia can save the Polar Ice Caps, invent new ways of preventing Global Warming by creating a intricate system of desalinated water to support terraced farming and to sustain the burgeoning population- one can only fathom the Economic Stimulus from the Reconstruction of the participant sovereigns in such novel and mutually cooperative means of collaboration. 

If Western Civilization wants security…it must pursue dramatically new avenues of such agreed-upon measures, to positively effect change in such broad strokes in Diplomatic Redevelopment Zones so that the local governments and the CITIZENS receive a lump sum, “tax refund” to help stimulate local consumption in the surrounding vicinity.

Just as there is no real reason to hastily negate such simple Federal/State/Municipal debt reorganization, the pretext of a "Global Settlement" between said parties provides the sufficient agreed-upon consideration.  


"The mind will be loosed. It must be loosed." - John Adams

I respectfully dissent.