Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Corporation Larger Than Exxon/Mobil

What follows may be the most controversial part of my proposed system but I dont think any of the current corporate models of government or the fortune 500 are up to the task of successfully managing the system efficiently. So let me jump right in with both feet, the national personal transit corporation will be owned by the federal government, possibly with some private investment. The first reason for this is the fact that it is the federal government who will own all of the assets, build, maintain, and regulate it anyway. Why should American society hand over trillions of dollars in investments to any private entity? The second reason is that it is the federal government that will ensure the system operates and remains solvent, it already insures that any corporation "too big to fail" will get a government bailout, so why not have a direct stake in the corporation? I realize many people will oppose the gov owning and operating anything, but it already de facto owns nearly all of the roads and associated equipment for construction, upkeep, and operation of roadways, plus it frequently infuses cash into the rail system. About the only part not owned by government is the actual vehicle, which is manufactured to more government standards than any product and even then you pay taxes to rent them. While there is no reason a person couldnt own their own vehicle for my system, it should be unnecessary. The biggest problem with government ownership (aside from purely ideological objections) is the waste and corruption that seems to inevitably plague government run enterprises, our department of defense is a glaring example. So how can we minimize that in our national personal transit corporation? The first way, I propose, is to tie the salary of every employee to success of the system. The method I like is to give every employee a base salary (say for example 110% of industry average for similar job) plus bonuses (monthly, quarterly or annually) when the system generates surplus or if they have an idea that cuts costs or improves services. This, I believe, would greatly improve the chances for efficient operation and ferreting out corruption. The goal of this corporation should be to provide its services to the public as cheaply as possible and still make a profit and mangement bonuses ought to reflect that when it happens (or doesnt). All profits should be split between system employees and the federal government according to a prescribed formula (say 80/20 the first billion $, 50/50 for the next billion $ and 20/80 above that), with so many quarters at some level of profit (if ever met) triggering fare reductions (which ought to give top managers big bonuses). As with any corporation, there will have to be some kind of oversight. This corporation will be the largest in the world (or very close to it) and will need to be subject to public opinion and scrutiny if it is to serve that public. I propose a board that will report directly to the secretary of transportation, that should include at least 2 independent financial auditors, 2 engineers (structural, transportation, civil, etc.), a management expert, all presidential appointees and a member each appointed by management and whatever organization the workers have. This board would be the final arbiter in all things npts not actully taken to a court of law and is ultimately answerable to both congress and the public marketplace. Unions should not need to be encouraged or discouraged since most of the usual issues will be automatically resolved (pay raises and bonuses tied to economy and success of system, arbitration instead of strike agreement, standardized working conditions, board to appeal management decisions, standardized health care plan...not currently available in America, etc.) but every employee should have a vote on their representitive to the board. None of this is intended to be a comprehensive or immutable, just my general idea of how to operate, what ought to be a model corporation, the likes of which to encourage on a broader scale. The ideas I have presented here are how to hopefully use the self interest of people for a positive result.

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