Sunday, 18 February 2018

Not only is business good for society but so are bosses.

Andy is a local businessman. Employs about twenty people. Works hard - pretty much non-stop. Pretty typical of his sort. I want to tell you about his sort by way of response to this piece of Marxist bigotry:
...neoliberal bosses have something in common with child molesters. Both lack restraint in the pursuit of their own self-gratification in situations where they think they can get away with it.
I'm not beating up on Chris Dillow here for the crass correlation of businessmen with paedophiles but rather with his perpetuating the myth that the operation of trade - business - is merely a matter of "the maximal pursuit of money".

Andy had an employee who was diagnosed with cancer. It turned out pretty soon that this young man wasn't going to make it and, more to the point, he wouldn't be able to do the job for which Andy employed him. In Chris Dillow's fantasy of the businessman as an exploitative, MaxU, utilitarian, Andy would see the employee onto sick pay and that's end of it. Let me tell you what actually happened.

The dying young man was kept on the payroll - full wages despite not being able to work - right up to the day he died. When Andy discovered he'd no life insurance, he organised a fundraiser to get some cash for his wife and young kids. And he spent the last days of this man's life helping his family deal with what was happening.

There is a common shtick among left-wing (and not-so-left-wing) commenters that trade - doing business - attracts the worst sort of people and is, you know, just a little mucky and common. Wherever we look - film, TV, literature - business people are portrayed as bad people. Yet the reality is that the typical businessman or woman is no better or worse than the typical social worker, academic or Marxist columnist. And this means that, every day, business people act without consideration of maximising profits because they want to do the right thing. It's not just high profile things like paying for a woman's cancer treatment but a whole host of little things made possible because the business people have made some cash - anybody who has worked raising money for something like building a new village hall know just how businesses, large and small, are willing to help out. As 'Secret Millionaire' showed us, the idea of giving back, of helping, of making a place better is as central to business life as deal-making.

The late Barry Pettman, one of the founders of Emerald publishing, ran his other publishing businesses from his home at Patrington in Holderness. To make sure that the village post office kept open, Barry shipped everything to Patrington to go out through this little post office. For sure, Barry (who was born in a Hull council estate and was an academic economist) liked buying very expensive wine and grand cars (plus second and third homes in the USA and NZ), but his urge to make money was matched by his desire to see that money help the community where he lived. And what Barry did is repeated again and again across the world, business people are not soul-less Randian automata motivated solely by maximising utility but flesh and blood people with strong personal ethics, courage, faith and love. It's time we recognised this and put an end to the narrow "bosses are bad" perspective of people like Chris Dillow.

Marco, who owns around 150 properties internationally, including six in Preston, said he is willing to give extra support to the winning candidate as well as the keys to the top-floor flat, including footing the council tax bill for as long as necessary.

Read more at:
Marco, who owns around 150 properties internationally, including six in Preston, said he is willing to give extra support to the winning candidate as well as the keys to the top-floor flat, including footing the council tax bill for as long as necessary.

Read more at:


Goose said...

The silly buggers tend to forget who creates the jobs, that pays the tax, that funds their fantasy political wet dreams.

Sobers said...

The Left project. They accuse others of being nasty people, because they know deep down thats what they'd be like if they were the one with the power, but don't want to admit it to themselves. Hence why a Lefty boss is far worse to work for than a 'nasty' right wing one. When they actually get the chance of some power they abuse it (cf. Oxfam and their 'humanitarian aid workers' behaviour)

Anonymous said...

And then there's Sir Philip Green, whose Monaco-resident wife apparently owned it all, who thus avoids UK taxes, then off-loads his sinking ship for a token £1 to a complete bandit, having let the pension fund for thousands of his loyal employees wither on the vine . . .

I'm no Commie, but one Philip Green does more harm to the reputation of enterprise than a countryful of your quietly-honourable 'Andy' types.

chris said...

Thanks for that. In that quote, the word "neoliberal" is doing a lot of work. I don't claim that all bosses conform to that type. You've given a useful corrective to that.
I should stress that I was NOT taking a Marxist view when I wrote that, but a Smithian one: Marx did not believe that the evils of capitalism arose from the bad character of individual capitalists. Quite the opposite. He thought competition compelled even good men to exploit workers.
In this context, the example of Andy is an awkward one for free marketeers as well as Marxists: he could only afford to behave decently because competition was not grinding his profits down to the bear minimum.
I have in fact written in favour of genuine entrepreneurs (who are only a subset of bosses), and believe doing so is compatible with a form of Marxism, eg here: