9 comments on “Message for Paulie

  1. Aw c’mon. There’s been a failure of public policy in which small businesses find it significantly harder to survive than they did twenty years ago. To say that political parties should identify this issue (and I’d say they should do it as part of a wider programme of decentralisaton) is hardly Poujadism.

    I’d suggest that the excessive power of corporate lobbying can only be counteracted by more powerful elected representatives. M. Poujade would be very upset by that notion.

  2. While corporate lobbying may be an issue the key problem small business’ face is that they can never be as cheap as large chain and not enough people are prepared to pay extra for their supposedly better service.

    Look at Ryan Air, horrific service bordering on outright contempt for their customers. But they’re cheap and are now one of the biggest airline in Europe if not the biggest.

    Most people don’t want good service, they want cheap. If the big chains do become a monopoly and start over charging a rival will step in and be cheap. Or people will just but off an on-line specialist that is even cheaper again.

  3. So I have a choice: I can either use Tesco or I can use the local butcher, baker and candlestick maker and effectively take a pay cut.

    If I take the latter option then, as Bastiat pointed out, the golf pro, sailing instructor or bicycle shop owner will miss out.

    Or maybe Paulie thinks those latter people and their families are not as worthy as the butcher, baker and candlestick maker?

  4. Actually one thing is missing from this debate.

    The regulations that politicians are so keen to heap on our heads are causing far more pain to small businesses than large ones.

    If a small businessman did not have to spend all day complying with regulations he would have an opportunity to make the service versus cheap premium smaller. It wouldn’t be a cure all, but it would help a lot of marginal businesses and enable some of the more successful ones to grow.

  5. Serf: The regulations that politicians are so keen to heap on our heads are causing far more pain to small businesses than large ones.

    Yes.

    Often new regulations are supported (or encouraged) by big business as a way of hobbling their smaller competitors.

  6. Phillip – as a trades unionist, I understand your point very well. Sure – professional standards, qualifications, trading conventions – all dirty terms to classical liberals, but all essential to the maintenance of dominant traders.

    I don’t think it’s a question of removing the regulations, it’s a question of how you stop unassailable demands for unnecessary regulations arising.

    Phil – “most” people *may* want cheap. But not all people. This ad campaign kinda illustrates the problem:
    http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/news/939667/John-Lewis-Dixons-spat-ad/

    It’s like Gresham’s Law where an ability to provide non-price related advice is driven out. It’s about knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing. It’s playing to irrational biases. I don’t understand the liberal defence of this phenomenon (but being a social democrat, I suppose I’m not supposed to….).

  7. Paulie:

    It’s hard to believe that you’re both adult and believe what you say.

    The big, cheap store aren’t your enemy: they’re just doing ordinary business of the kind in which they’re engaged.

    You have expensive tastes. Not so much formerly but the price of catering to your particular minority whims has increased over time and there are, apparently, not enough like-thinkers to maintain the sort of establishment(s) you’d prefer. The cause is not the big stores but your fellow men–the customers whose preferences are for the big stores to the financial discomfiture of the type business you prefer.

    You have choices. Briefly, one is to live with a bit of dissatisfaction and “get over it.” Most of us do with respect to one thing or another. Or, secondly, if you’ve the mind and nerve for it and feel there are enough others like you: start up a business of your own that caters to customers such as yourself. If you’re right–you make a fortune. There’s a downside, as well, as I think you needn’t have explained to you. Lastly, there’s the option that most of your sort (and I only have the vaguest idea of what “your sort” is)
    seem to enjoy contemplating (and sometimes doing something about): agitate to get a law (or many) passed to hamper those intent on getting the most for the least into the eager hands of the great majority of consumers. (I’m guessing you’re up for that road.) Bad luck to you!

  8. As a matter of fact of the Uk had a non-Poujadist system protecting the small retailer called Resale Price Maintenance prior to it a banning by Tory modernisers in 1964.Manufacturers stipulated their own prices and did not supply anybody who sold at a discount.
    The American Supreme Court looked at RPM again in 2007 (since it had been banned there too) and ruled in its favour in the case of Leegin vs PSKS in which the court took care to take expert testimony from economists.
    I have never come across any mention of this landmark ruling in the Brit press or blogosphere although the expert testimony was on the Net .
    RPM is perfectly competitive ,since the manufacturers can compete with each other on price.Actually more competitive because niche shops can carry a huge range of stock knowing that they can not be undercut by supermarkets.

  9. Gene,

    I love having my adulthood questioned by one-note bloggertarian memebots.

    I live in a city of seven million people. If you make a reasonable estimate that one million of them live within the kind of radius that I’ve shopped for a door (and I suspect the other six million would be able to say the same as me – I can’t imagine that South London is somehow a haven of competitive suppliers) then we are being asked to believe that having only one supplier for a very standard product is not a monopoly situation.

    Having liquidated their competitors, they can reduce the standard of their service with impunity which is what they have done.

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