“LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT.”
Whenever I attempt to define myself with one of the "isms" or even identify with one or more of them, I always come back to the idea that I'm a capitalist socialist. Let me explain.
Most of my working life I was with multi-nationals in several fields and practically without noticing, I was always thinking with that corporate mind of theirs. Profit and growth were the driving strategy, market share one of the tactics and personal ambition decided your place on the ladder at any given time. I have written here about the disease of "Maximum Profiteering" and how it is poisoning the business world today but I staunchly believe in healthy profits being made because it is the only way we can achieve growth and sustainability in private economics and thereby the wider economy. No great revelation there I think you will agree.
The collective efforts of the workforce at any given time provides the State with the tax funds needed to look after the weaker in society while also looking to plans for the Nation in the future. This, for me, should be the function of our elected representatives. The criteria they should use must be, 'what might we do that would benefit our citizens in a changing world,' and plan & execute accordingly. We give them plenty of funding to so do after all.
The socialist, (and Father), in me views the family as the core unit of society. My family loved and nurtured me through my formative years and educated me for the workforce and hence a contributor to the wider economy. My parents did that for six of us and I have gone on to do it for two of my own. My brother and sisters between them have added seventeen more. But the social story is much more than that.
Those net contributors to the State have helped to build the infrastucture, paid for security, health and education as well as providing the workforce. If a multi-national had to come to a green field site and create all of that itself it would not be able to do so, it's as simple as that. The reality is that they take advantage of the work that has already been done by society and they don't pay a penny for any of it. The structure is all in place for them when they arrive. The homes and roads are built, the workforce healthy and educated, the ports and airports already in operation and water and sewerage have been taken care of. The capital outlay to build their offices and factories is offset by the assets they acquire in those areas. Then, they provide employment in return for work done. They cost the individual's pay according to the profit to had from their work. Apple in Cork had a 40:1 ratio from day one, that is for every one euro they paid in salary, they got back forty euros in profitability. That is the real deal for the multi-national companies.
The term "corporate responsibility," means fuck-all other than plausible deniability, but it is widely used today to denote some kind of squeaky clean operation that truly cares. Well, they don't care. Why would they indeed? They get the crown jewels of society handed to them on a plate free and up front in return for their forty-to-one salaries – it's a win-win for Mr. Big. Is it any wonder then that they should keep pushing the limits to see how far they can go and how much they can get away with? Our modest twelve per cent corporate tax rate and has been negotiated and re-negotiated to the extent that that not even that modest amount is paid anymore. And in case you think I blame the corporates for that, I don't.
I blame the negotiators on our side for all of it. The corporate boys and girls are sharp and focused people and can spot an idiot a mile away. We routinely elect those idiots and indeed, we've crammed the civil service full of them. We created a risk averse culture whereas the other negotiating teams take risks for a living. They will bluff to the high heavens on a pair of twos and I suspect our side would fold with a full house in their hand in the face of that.
The reasons to squeeze as much as we can out of the wealthy corporate sector is to re-invest it in their workforce of tomorrow and that will come only from society and the family. Pay peanuts, get monkeys works both ways. The socialist in me sees the hidden costs of producing those educated balanced people and the capitalist in me sees the huge advantages in having them available, dare I say, 'going forward.'
So for me, the economic balance is out of kilter right now. One side is hoovering up the benefits without making the right level of contribution. Smart negotiators on the citizen's side could nudge the balance back where it should be and this would ease the financial strain on society. As those family and society stresses are eased and finally released, a happier and more creative & productive workforce would emerge and the joke of it is that the increased investment from the corporates would represent very little to them in their greater scheme of things. It would be the elusive win-win that both parties theoretically desire but currently neither party is incentivised to find.
That is socialist capitalism in my head. That is the partnership needed in our western world to survive the challenges we face and will continue to face in the future. But the "Left, Right, Left, Right Party," just doesn't have the right ring to it. As the corporates might say, "I can't see much demand for that."