Capitalism is Opposed to Human Happiness Debate, Volume 2
The plight of the investor would be the same as a worker who agrees to work for future wages, because the company cannot afford to pay him now: He would invest his labor, for future returns. If the company goes bankrupt, he loses his labor investment. So the real difference is not so much "labor vs. capital" but rather the timing of the return with respect to the investment including investment of labor (and assorted details of the specific agreements which vary from job to job, or investment to investment).
Well yes, you're technically correct I guess. If you agree to work for 2 years and expect to get paid at the end of the 2 year period, you are giving the company credit, a form of investment. But if you get paid every 2 weeks, the credit is minimal, it's a small, short term loan, mostly you're just selling your labor. It's similar to "investing" in an apartment you're renting by pre-paying the rent at the beginning of the month rather than paying for every minute separately. The point is, this is a little revolving credit to improve transaction costs and there is no point making it more complicated by trading shares of ownership instead or whatever, since that would defeat the purpose. Just after each pay-check, the employee has no credit in the company.
The company "rents" the employee, just like it "rents" the capital when it pays interest or dividends. The investor's interest is in receiving these rent payments, just as the employee's interest is in receiving his wage.
An employee doesn't lose any capital -- he already lost it by trading his precious time and life energy for a fixed amount of spending money: The investor was hoping to keep his capital and collect a share of the profits in perpetuity on top of it. The employee doesn't "merely have one fewer buyer to sell his labor to" -- he would lose the one customer on whose patronage he depended for a living. That's a major, major customer. Many if not most people have no major investments and their livelihoods depend on wages: The loss of a job can be much more painful than the loss of investment, and is often not as easy to replace as you suggest. He keeps his body and skill, which are depleting, with a chunk of his life, his time, gone. And when he "rents himself out to another company", he continues to deplete his capital.
I don't understand what's making it complicated. (In fact I'm not sure what kind of system we're discussing here.) Having no credit in the company means that the company has no obligation to him. But it does, in the form of his employment contract. Furthermore, if an employee has ownership of his employment contract, he can sell it, just like loan contracts and investment contracts (shares) can be sold. Then the employee's interest in the company is entirely similar to the interest of these other contract holders.
An employee loses capital when he leaves. Firm-Specific Human capital (knowledge/skills which are only valuable for this particular company or personal relations which have been built).
Just found this paper regarding the subject "Employee Ownership and Firm-Specific Human Capital"
P.S. Of course its about partial employee ownership and not total.
First, cooperation is not penalized, since it is possible for two cooperatives to exchange, as though independent agents in a market economy. In fact, where collectivization of the land has taken place according to Libertarian guidelines, the results have been extremely cooperative. The brief collectivization that took place before Lenin's coup in 1917, french workers during the May Days of 1968, or Mexican peasants in Oaxaca in 2006 -- these were all very coordinated efforts of capital seizure by the working class, and they did not result everyone refusing to cooperate with others, or in the absence of trade. George Orwell, in his book Homage to Catalonia, makes a very detailed analysis of a Libertarian Communist society, and it did not result in extreme competition between firms, nor did it result in extreme cooperation. Rather, every worker-managed firm behaved like a self-governing, autonomous commune of producers and consumers.
Second, the possession of productive wealth is still being treated like capitalist possession. If a worker joins a factory's workforce, he does not have the right to sell the capital which he is using, since that would be profiting by the possession of capital and not working capital. A laborer is an owner of the means of production on the condition that they are the laborer, and such rights cannot extend anywhere else. For why should anyone else have a right to the economy, except those who have built and sustained it with their strength? Likewise, there is no problem of bringing on a new employee to a worker-managed firm, and thinking they're going to immediately sell $500,000 worth of plant equipment with their rights. Naturally, the prohibition of this activity is, in actually, the security to the right of productive property.
For you are free, to do whatever you want, except what harms other people, correct? So, you are not entirely free, but that prohibition upon harmful activity, actually, truly represents your right to freedom, for where are you free when you are subject to the oppression of fellow citizens? This is the logic that has sustained the concept of rights within political democratic nations. The argument that "you are not really free, because you cannot hurt other people" has not stopped Democracy. Likewise, the argument that "you do not own the property, because you cannot sell it" is not going to stop Democracy from spreading into the economic realm.
Likewise, taking on new workers does not necessarily entail equal pay. It may occur in some places, but it is not likely to occur in all. Since every worker is dependent upon their means of production, they have a self-interest in maintaining its productivity capability. This is so because they depend upon the exchange value they expect to generate that will sustain themselves, their families, and their communities. They compete with other firms, which means they will need a fair system for redistribution of wealth -- otherwise, there is incentive for the overly productive or inventive worker to find another cooperative.
It seems unreasonable to believe that only a Capitalist can have an interest in investing in productive property. Rather, it would seem the complete opposite to me. In the words of Adam Smith, "Nothing can be more absurd, however, than to imagine that men in general should work less when they work for themselves, than when they work for other people. A poor independent workman will generally be more industrious than even a journeyman who works by the piece. The one enjoys the whole produce of his own industry; the other shares it with his master." (Book 1, Chapter VIII of "Wealth of Nations.")
You made the comment "In other words, marginal utility of labor is typically lower than productivity per laborer..." It is precisely the other way around. A common laborer lives off of bread, they prepared themselves, from dishes they clean themselves. The capitalist eats at restaurants, wears expensive clothing, and needs valuable forms of entertainment and luxury. When there is a 5% rise in profits, what does that mean for the Capitalist? It means absolutely no change in condition at all, and the suspicion that the business may not be growing sufficiently. But for the Capitalist, that can mean a significantly improved advantage. It can be the different between working nine and a half hours a day versus ten hours a day. (If you have ever worked such a shift, I trust you to see the immense value of getting out thirty minutes early.)
And that is only measuring a small increase in profit. The capitalist, as in the individual who possesses capital to live off of it without working, must not fear the fees of doctors or universities, so a significant increase in wealth does not serve either of these utilitarian needs. But for a lowly laborer, a significant increase in wealth can mean life-saving surgery for a loved one, education for the young, or even instituting the three-hour workday. After all, who has a greater incentive to produce so much that they work less? A capitalist who doesn't work, or a laborer who does work eight hours a day?
The Internet and the transistor were invented by public funding, without any private initiative whatsoever. Oh, but I'm glad private initiative is now involved in the internet. There is now the 1-Click Patent: "1-Click, also called one-click or one-click buying, refers to the technique of allowing customers to make online purchases with a single click, with the payment information needed to complete the purchase already entered by the user previously." Purchasing anything online, with a single button click, is patented by Amazon. So, even if a worker did get a share of the company of Amazon, it is based on exclusion -- their wealthy palaces only exist because they have, as Rousseau said, "laid desolate entire countries." The stock price of Amazon isn't about the productivity that its capitalists have added to the wealth, which is based on the Internet, created by public funds. No -- it's based on how they've spent millions of dollars in making others unproductive by throwing legal blockades in their way.
The story is identical with Macintosh, Windows, General Electric, etc., etc.. (All of whom have outsourced slave labor.) The entire movie industry, likewise, has generated some trillion dollars and it is based on the patent made by a single inventor, who most likely received $25 per week wages. (William Dickson.) When Edison got these patents, he didn't use his productive capacity to improve technology -- he used it to create a monopoly and completely reduce the productive powers of any competing adversaries. Vanderbilt and the other so-called "rugged individualists" typically behaved in this way. The innovation of the loom and sewing, for instance, was done by many inventors who received very little or no pay for it. And the result of such technology was a massive reduction in work conditions of those who worked textiles -- while the market price remained exactly the same. (See "Political Economy," by Sismonde de Sismonde.)
Third, by all means, there is every utilitarian value in cooperative efforts for massive, social organizations. Culture, education, civil defense, research, etc., are all activities that have typically been done collectively and cooperatively. There is no reason to suspect that every single firm is going to be as individualistic as possible in providing each of these things for themselves. Take the columns of the Anarchist Front in Catalonia during 1936, in resisting the Fascist coup. They had been recruited by their particular trade unions, and often wore their insignia. But they cooperated democratically in their efforts of defending territory and protecting the civilian population. Likewise, their efforts in education were very cooperative between the trade unions, who had in fact already established a free public education system, dating back to the 1890's (forty years before the resistance to the Fascist coup).
The cooperation of this industrial congress of worker-managed syndicates is likely to organize to provide for collective efforts: capital, culture, research, defense, employment, etc., etc.. For instance, to quote the Anarchist theoretician James Guillaume...
James Guillaume wrote: