Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics
 

Why don’t Socialists start their own companies?

Posted by Jason O on Oct 7, 2011 in Irish Politics |

Never mind yellow pack prices? What about red pack prices?

Never mind yellow pack prices? What about red pack prices?

Reading some of the criticisms of the government’s Job Bridge programme I’m always surprised that the critics don’t follow the criticisms to their logical conclusions. They argue that Job Bridge is used by unscrupulous employers to profit from “slave labour”.  Presumably, therefore, it is relatively straightforward for companies to fund good wages and employee terms and conditions and still be economically viable. So why don’t socialists cut out the middleman?

Oh, they say that they want to, through semi-state companies, but that means having a socialist government. Why wait? They criticise private companies for not implementing social goals they believe are achievable. So why don’t they? Why don’t the United Left Alliance open businesses themselves, offering fairly priced products and fair wages? What’s there to lose? After all, they have seven TDs taking in €100k a year each plus expenses. Surely they could afford to open and sustain a profitable socially responsible supermarket, a model socialist example to all? In fact, if it was a success, they could open a chain of them in communities (and constituencies) across the country. 

Imagine what a campaigning tool that would be, showing  the country that the socialist model delivers  fair jobs and fair prices. Of course, that assumes that the model actually works and isn’t just a collection of slogans and exclamation marks. I promise one thing: I’ll be among their first customers.

6 Comments

Michael
Oct 7, 2011 at 10:53 am

Social finance enterprises and co-ops essentially follow this model. The credit union is most prevalent example of such enterprises in Ireland. These entities aren’t linked to political parties, but that doesn’t invalidate their good work, or the validity of the model they demonstrate.


 
James
Oct 7, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Your cheaper mass-produced beans are ideologically impure!


 
Luke
Oct 8, 2011 at 10:44 am

Good piece, they’d find it next to impossible to do this, as I assumen they’d have very little items for sale as each item would have to be sourced from a similar model, so no one is paid less than anyone else.

The model would work only if they have a monopoly, as the consumer would have no choice, so high prices can cover the crazy costs of such an operation.

Don’t we have this model already, called the semi-state! All profits aren’t passed onto the consumer, they are instead passed on in salaries to staff, due to lack of competition there is no pressure to reduce costs. The consumer is shafted!

The Credit Unions, question, how do they establish their original capital, chicken / egg to lend to their first group of customers? Money is a nice “stock” to deal with, totally different to something like a store – money doesn’t rot or go stale (except for hyper inflation), can be invested to increase returns, lent out with a nice 6%+ returns. Nothing is manufactured or purchased for resale.

In Ireland the credit unions are on the verge of collapse due to their lending practices, so not the ideal model to compare with.

A social company can never grow beyond a local co-op, as it never creates the large profits that can then be risked on new innovation – creating new ideas and changing lives: the car, computers, mobile phones, etc.


 
Michael
Oct 8, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Sorry Luke if we are comparing the success of private enterprise versus a social capital model then you can’t point at credit unions in Ireland and say they are a poor model because they are on the verge of collapse. First I dispute they are on the verge of collapse and second their private sector equivalents in Ireland have all collapse to a dreadful cost to the Irish public.

I’m not arguing for socialism. I do think social finance models of business can work and have been shown to work and it is a direct rebuttal to Jason’s blog post.


 
James
Oct 9, 2011 at 5:22 pm

The best argument against them doing it is that it’s never been tried in the past.

I agree that it’s unlikely that a business which operates on an idealogical basis would need a significant amount of consumer good-will (and purchases!) in order to compete with one which operates with a business focus.

Finally, I don’t think that Jason’s example _would_ prove that the socialist model works — not if it’s relying on the salary of elected officials from the nominally non-socialist State.


 
Joe
Oct 14, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Part of the choice to support Socialist ideas in societies where the pinnacle of that world-view hasn’t needed to call out the panzers to stay in power, comes from an inability to understand the complexity of society, wherein said socialist just wishes ‘things were simpler’ and were run by some official department of geniuses.


 

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