Expanding Employee Ownership in America: A Proposal for a National Equity Compensation Mandate

By Tyler Ross

Individual and household wealth is most often derived from three sources: real property, human capital, and productive capital. The modern economy has developed financial tools, such as mortgages and student loans, to help individuals accrue real property and human capital, but there is no meaningful way for the working class to accrue ownership of productive capital. And, so long as the growth rate of capital exceeds the growth rate of wages, wealth inequality in the United States and elsewhere will continue to grow. This Note explores existing methods to extend capital ownership to the working class, such as Employee Stock Ownership Plans, and proposes a federal, national, mandatory equity minimum wage as an effective solution to three problems in our modern economy. Specifically, (i) employees do not benefit when the companies for which they work are tremendously profitable and provide outsized returns to investors; (ii) wealth inequality is worsening and will continue to do so; and (iii) there is a savings deficit among nearly one-half of American households. This Note explains how a mandatory equity minimum wage will help ameliorate these three problems by meaningfully extending ownership of productive capital to the working class.

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