Bigger Is Better, Not.
There’s nothing that makes me happier than to see a small local provider have success in their business.
The likes of the local butcher, the baker and other small food producers, craftspeople, artists, and so on, getting out there and making things for the love and passion of it all.
Skilled people sharing their work with the community and making a good living from it is right and proper.
The more small scale producers and manufacturers of things we have operating locally, then the stronger our society and economy.
Diversity is good.
It allows people choice and helps communities grow and become self-sustaining.
And so you'd think educating our young people about self employment and encouraging them to start their own business would be high on the agenda.
But alas that not how we do things.
The institutions of the state focus primarily on bigger is better, giving lip service to small and medium enterprises.
There are organisations supporting SMEs but it's not enough.
The Flaw In “Bigger Is Better” Mentality
With a broad and diverse number of small and medium businesses providing services both locally, we create an economy that can stand even when some of its parts fall.
But our society and the people who are charged with running it have a different idea. They believe bigger is better.
They say; large international organisations coming here creates jobs, bolsters the economy, shows the world how great and how well educated this nation is.
I say bollocks.
There are a number of issues with this mentality and I’d like to highlight a couple of those.
Big Problem #1
Large international organisations employing thousands of people under one roof creates a weak link.
They might come in to avail of tax breaks or some other incentives, be they legal or not (like Apple for example), but that incentive may not be enough to keep them.
As soon as they decide operating here is no longer viable, they’ll be gone.
Intel for example, has been in Ireland since 1989 and employs over 4000 people directly. I don’t know how many third parties rely on Intel but I know it’s enormous.
Intel’s operation has huge positive effects for the economy, not to mention the knock-on effects of continued expansion.
My business and everyone working for me was a significant beneficiary of their presence here to the tune of hundreds of thousands of Euro, so I know how attractive it can be to get involved with the big players.
It’s good, sure, but it creates a weakness. I don’t care to contemplate the impact on the economy if Intel decided to leave – which they could do very easily.
How it can go all wrong;
In Limerick, southwest Ireland in 2009, Dell had their European hub for assembly of their computers. The Irish government and their agencies were patting each other on the back for landing such international big fish.
They stuck their chests out and proclaimed how great they were to have the world’s largest manufacturing facility here in Ireland.
Little old Ireland, sure aren’t we great altogether.
About 2000 jobs were created directly through employment with Dell, and an estimated 10,000 jobs through third party contractors and suppliers.
All was rosy in the garden for 18 years until Dell decided that it was no longer financially viable to keep their operation here.
Vice President of Operations Sean Corkery said at the time:
This is a difficult decision, but the right one for Dell to become even more competitive, and deliver greater value to customers in the region
Difficult decision my arse.
Dell are an international corporation, that’s how they work so really I can’t blame them. They made a decision that was best for their business and that’s how it should be.
The problem is that politicians are always looking for the big and quick win. They want to look good and to them, big is good. Landing big fish looks great on their CV.
They don’t look long term, they look short term, they look to enhance their own interests only. Very few politicians make decisions that benefit the people first.
That's a whole other discussion in itself.
Big Problem #2
This mode of thinking, the one that permeates our entire system of education, employment, business and society, teaches people to be robots for the machine.
I’ve written about this before – our system of education teaches our kids to be dependant.
It teaches them to learn what’s on the curriculum, ignore what they love to do, focus on getting good grades, go to college and study something that gets you a good job, then do that for the rest of your days.
It’s such a bullshit idea.
The machine teaches our kids to be reliant on others. It makes automatons of people that depend on others to give them a job.
Then when the big boys get what they came for, when they have extracted what they can from our“workforce” and leave town, they leave a trail of destruction behind them.
What To Do About This
Our education system is totally flawed and in this writer’s opinion, it is the single most influential factor in all economic boom and bust scenarios across the world.
We don't encourage our children to be self reliant. They are not taught the skills necessary to start a business, and for the vast majority who do, they meet failure.
This is because the skilled and talented people who branch out on their own lack the business skills to succeed.
The people of Limerick were devastated when Dell left. They had spent their entire adult lives working for Dell. A job for life they thought they had.
They were taught to put all their eggs in the Dell basket and had no control over who held the basket and how it was looked after.
This needs to change.
Sales, marketing, business and entrepreneurial skills required to build a business need to be introduced across the board to children 13 years and older.
We need to give our kids better tools. Our children need a broader sense of self, one that centers the locus of control over their future within themselves.
Now, that’s a big ask considering school is design to create workers, but it needs to happen.
In the meantime, we parents have a responsibility to show our kids how to become independent of the machine.
We need to teach them what school will not. This way we can begin to create a society that actually works for everyone equally, and not just for the wealthy few.
Otherwise the gap between the wealthiest and the poor will widen. Our society will continue to weaken at the hands of large corporations and stupid politicians.
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Maria John says
Great article! I think it’s important to support small businesses. They often have much better quality in the first place!