Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Commenter Arliss Bunny Asks for My $.02

* Ms. Mr. Bunny left this in the comment section of an older post.  I thought it deserved a wider audience:
I've been meaning to write to you about this for some time. I'm an employer (I own a small manufacturing company) and I have a different perspective. Our company has found that when we hire older employees they require substntially less training, are, generally, vastly more reliable, have already established a strong work ethic and bring with them all kinds of outside thinking and processes which have improved our productivity, We pay a living wage, health insurance and a full benefits package. In the last three months we have filled three positions and all of them with people who were long-term unemployed because (and I REALLY can not figure out why other employers can't figure this out) the long-term unemployeed are happy to have a good job and come to work every day dying to make a difference and build the company. All the way around it's a win-win deal.

Now, I understand that my company is the exception but I can't figure out why this is the case. Because we hire incredibly skilled, experienced people who show up every day with their brains engaged, we have been able to become dominant in our market, export more than 80% of what we build overseas and soundly beat back foreign competition. As best I can tell, we have just been using common sense, entrepenurial drive and capitalism. Despite the fact that I am a progressive, we have not been operating as a social services organization. We are a business and our goal is to make money.

Here is what I have been thinking lately however. I think that the Dems, as well as Netroots/DKos etc, need to speak to and organize small business. Small business NEVER benefits from the austerity-based monetary policies of the GOP. I listen to progressive internet-based radio all day (The Professional Left is my fav) and I have to say that the constant pounding by the left on "business" and "corporations" is off-putting. It is one thing for the left to be pounding on BIG business and BIG corporations. That is well-deserved and much needed but when we are all grouped together a serious opportunity is lost. When we, and by "we" I mean "progressives" fail to distinguish between my company and Boeing, we are failing in a variety of ways. We are failing to speak to a large group of voters, we are failing to dynamically promote and encourage "best practices" in a manner which will support the overall goals of the progressive movement, and we are failing to shine a light on and support those small companies who are doing right.

Anyway, that's my two cents. I would love to hear your thoughts.
My thoughts are this: I agree with you 100%.

There is so much to be gained by re-establishing a mutually advantageous and respectful relationship between the labor, small business and the political Left.

I am very familiar with places where these relationships have been made to work.

I am incredibly frustrated that I am no longer in a position to help build and nurture them.

 * Corrected.


Arliss Bunny said...

Ahem! That's "Ms" Bunny. (It's a long story.)

Anyway, early in January I am meeting with someone who is an active and influential progressive organizer on the subject of organizing small business because he, too, agrees that this is an opportunity. If you would like, I can loop you in after that meeting. If we start to push on this, maybe we get momentum.


Geese Howard said...

That's suicide on social issues. Wall Street gave us gay marriage in NYC. The HRC is in bed with them as well (hence Goldman Sachs being the most progressive place to work for and the HRC's business partner, along with honoring Loyd). Of course this cost NYC a minimum wage hike and paid time off. The tech libertarians have the same relationship with the immigration equality movement. Every social issue follows this structure.

The left only wins on social issues because of the cosmopolitan rich in the major centers of wealth and power that make the Democratic party strong. And given that social issues are the litmus test every social identity group will sell out economic populism in a second to work with the plutocrats.

Fighting big business is going to require no longer working with them on social issues. At which point the charges of bigotry and racism will fly, and we will start losing on social issues when the money dries the fuck up.

We (I consider myself a moderate) of the sane half of politics (ie not the GOP) have massive divides over energy policy, economics, and foreign policy. It's only been by handing those over to the plutocrats that we've won on social policy. At some point we are going to have to have this civil war and shatter into our own various groups.

I think we should wait till the GOP is dead or we have firmly won on various social issues. Kicking off a civil war with the cosmopolitan elite who give the party it's social values, economic might, control of the most important regions of the nation, and more isn't productive just now. One of the reasons I dislike Warren is I can easily see the fight she's starting back firing. It's going to turn into a holy war between those of us who place social issues first or economic issues... the reality is the way the Democratic party and left is structured we can't fight for both social and economic issues at the same time, and any progress on one is going to come at the cost of the other.

steeve said...

It's not really about categories, it's about bashing who's stupid and not bashing who's not. There are plenty of idiot small business owners pretending that Obamacare, higher taxes, and "uncertainty" are making them fire people. And there might be one or two big businesses that aren't insane.

The idea that people on the stupid side of an issue will change if treated politely has not been verified. Bash them, call them morons, laugh at them. They won't change their minds in front of you, but they'll bow to the peer pressure in the privacy of their quiet lives.

driftglass said...

Count me in, Ms. Bunny

Kathleen O'Neill said...

Ms. Bunny, thank you so much for your story. I would love to work for your company! Continued success. I believe that the fact that the marginalization of work and people who do it by the political/pundit class combined with many people (not all) feeling disconnected from their work, not only because the management is horrible but because they can't see or feel the results of their labor or feel they don't make a difference, needs to be part of the national conversation. Congratulations to you for bucking those trends.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

That's suicide on social issues.


zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Wall Street gave us gay marriage in NYC. The HRC is in bed with them as well (hence Goldman Sachs being the most progressive place to work for and the HRC's business partner, along with honoring Loyd). Of course this cost NYC a minimum wage hike and paid time off. The tech libertarians have the same relationship with the immigration equality movement. Every social issue follows this structure.

What the hell are you talking about? None of that has anything to do with the post.

wjbill said...

Great story (the skeptic in me hopes it is true). Business models such as this one should be supported and we try to do so in our family. We also try to support just about as many B corporations as we can. There are probably a few big business models we support (such as Costco) but boycott many many more .... although there is a limit to boycotts when you think about drilling down to supply chain, etc. Anyway, good on Ms. Bunny!

Anonymous said...

I run a family business in the Chicagoland area. Our field employees are unionized and I guess I'm supposed to hate that fact.

I don't.

We could go non-union, but I fail to see how saving a few dollars on wages would really help me in the long run. My employees make a decent wage, they have excellent health care, a generous pension that my company funds, and we all get along just fine. Some of our customers squawk about paying a little more per hour for our services, but frankly I don't want to do work for anyone that begrudges them the ability to send their kids to college or go on a vacation.

On a related note, I personally would gladly pay $1.25 for a $1.00 hamburger if it meant the employees at a restaurant could afford to get off of food stamps and have health care. No one in our country should have to go bankrupt because they got sick.


Lumpy Lang said...

Actually the smaller, cockroach capitalists are often the worst bloodsuckers to work for in practical terms.

Exceptional owners who retain a semblance of human decency in their treatment of workers shouldn't be mistaken for the rule - the laws of the 'market' will eliminate them sooner or later.

The fraudulent promotion of 'small is beautiful' capitalism at best reflects a utopia of the past. In the absence of massive and successful class struggle by the workers organizations (e.g. as waged in the mid 1930s), the mentality of the petty proprietor ruined by big capital turns toward fascism.

Cliff said...

Maybe it's just me, but every time I read Geese Howard's comments, I feel like he's responding to a blog post written in an alternate universe.