In his film, "Capitalism: A Love Story", which opens on October 2, documentary filmmaker Michael Moore paints a dismal picture of our capitalist model. He shows the tragedy that comes from greed – which he notes as the fatal flaw of capitalism.
Moore also shows how some companies have adopted a more socialist business model. Employees are rewarded for their efforts and given clients by their company along with the necessary resources. This has proven to work well and makes the business more sustainable, says Avi Liss of Liss Law, LLC, who considers himself a socialist professionally. His law firm operates under the belief that employees can thrive with ‘eat what you kill’ ideology.
“What’s yours is yours,” says Liss. “I won’t take from you and together we will both build the business to be bigger and more profitable.”
Creating a business structure where everyone has a piece of the pie is a democratic idea which can reap some profitable benefits. The UK’s John Lewis Partnership, one of the biggest supermarket/department store chains in England, is owned entirely by its employees, otherwise known’s as partners. The partners all have a say in how the business is run and receive an annual profit distribution in addition to their yearly salary.
But this model is not for everyone. Large companies like GM would have never worked with a socialist framework, says Liss. “I can’t imagine they would have allowed all the employees to be entitled to the same benefits and resources, or that management and the Board of Directors would give up their inflated salaries.”
Retail companies tend to work well under the model. With a commission, employees get minimum salary and then have incentive on top of it.
“Anytime you give an employee a vested interest in the company, you change the outlook of the employee, the employer and the clients,” says Liss. Their confidence and performance level is totally different than when working under a more capitalist one.
Socialist business models can encourage employees to have a vested interest in the success of the business. “It’s not the clock-in and clock out mentality. It provides ownership which leads to incentive and autonomy and overall pride in what you do,” explains Liss.
Most businesses find a middle ground. “I'm a staunch believer in the more popular and current capitalist model where results and compensation go hand in hand. Hard work deserves to be properly compensated as well,” says Brian Melzer about his house ware and consumable products company Epoca, Inc. “We buy all of the necessary materials, use available warehouse space, and work alongside our packing team in order to increase productivity and efficiency. All of these resources are made available to any and all of our 100 person sales team.”
Still, while Liss prefers a socialist framework in a business environment, he recognizes not all of the US feels the same. “It shouldn’t be [frowned upon],” says Liss. “In a way capitalism is a failed form of socialism.”