Mama said, “People will judge you by those you associate with!” Yes, it sounds like something out of a movie, but my mother did promote that idea. Dad too. Of course, it didn’t matter. I was going to spend time with who I wanted to because I can make my own decisions and old people need to leave me alone.
As I progressed to my early twenties I had a dream; I wanted to be a rock star. I learned to play guitar, took singing lessons, grew my hair out (that was key!) and set out to find people to start a band with. I went through many auditions. I would play with a few people for a couple of months, but it seemed like all they wanted to do was party. Coke and even heroin were easy to get in South Florida at the time and I watched a lot of people make poor decisions. They were theirs, but it didn’t mean I wanted any part of it.
I finally found three guys who could balance partying and being serious about writing music. We wrote songs, opened for a few bands everyone knows the names of, but never achieved the success we wanted. After 4 years we parted ways. We had a good time and learned a lot.
Then came the biggest choice I would make in my life; a spouse. What’s more important than the person you see every day? The last one you experience at night. The first face you look upon in the morning. I never thought about how important it would be to have someone who was on the same wavelength as me.
What about business? If you’re a capitalist such as myself, picking a business partner, or partners, is on par with the importance of selecting a spouse. Now you are talking about investing not only your valuable time, but also capital that you’ve either earned or borrowed. I honestly believe that people put less thought into picking a business partner than they do their dry cleaner.
Imagine being someone who has never studied economics, even bad economics, and you allow yourself to be talked into starting a business with one who has a bad ideology. Say this person is amenable to socialism. Picture them wanting to open a restaurant where everyone, every employee, is making the decisions (and expects to turn a profit).
Does this sound ridiculous? Well it happened! The “Bartertown Diner” in Grand Rapids, Michigan served a vegan menu (I know, you’re shocked) in a 30-seat space with murals of Che Guevara and Mao Zedong adorning the walls.
The business model dreamed up by Ryan Cappelletti, the vegan chef who started it, was that it would be a collective. “We’re going to have equal pay and equal say across the board, everyone working together.” There would be no tipping either, and employees were to join the Industrial Workers of the World, a union founded by members of the socialist-led Western Federation of Miners.
So, what’s the problem? To start with, employees set the hours which meant that opening and closing times would fluctuate. Customers complained of 40-minute wait times for a cold sandwich.
What was the outcome? Shockingly, the operation lasted five years (I guess that Mao mural was prophetic). Their model was discussed online. “I want to pay money for a good product, without a side of indoctrination. Hopefully this sends a message: you shouldn’t try running your business on political good will alone.”
My message today is about choosing your associations. When I started a band, I knew having people who didn’t match up with me philosophically would inevitably cause failure. Every success in life points to proper decision-making on our part and I believe many do not take into consideration how essential it is to select alliances that line up with their way of thinking.
As a capitalist I do not see myself putting my financial future in the hands of someone who by default hates capitalism. Nor could I go into business with one that believes in the State’s central power over business. There is too much at stake.
Article About Bartertown
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