What effect do multinational corporations have on the economy?
I remember not long ago that in the city where I grew up there were stores called Five and Ten. These were basically family businesses that sold a large number of different products. There you can find clothes, sporting goods, some hardware, household items, etc. It was like a miniature Walmart or Target. The prices were reasonable and it came and went pretty fast. There wasn’t much waiting in line, the people who worked there had to know her. It was a nice and pleasant place to shop. Those places in a matter of 40 years have disappeared.
I have an accounting practice and I have a client who sells retail fabrics. She has been in business for over 20 years at the same location. It started with a small retail store and has doubled its retail space over the years. During all those years she has hired employees and salespeople to help her with her business. It pays its employees more than the competing fabric store chain. His philosophy is that he wants to pay a living wage to his workers. Since you know them personally, there is a sense of community and loyalty they have for each other. This reflects how they work together and what they think of each other. She cares about them because her sales have been declining and now that she has reached retirement age she would like to sell the business because “it is no longer fun for her.”
As an accountant, I do not compete with the accountant or CPA on the street. Well yes and no. Yes, we are competitors, however my real competitor is the conglomerates Turbo Tax and H & R Block. Turbo Tax because its software has given me the ability to get younger taxpayers to come visit me. They prefer to prepare their own taxes on their computer with the help of Turbo Tax’s annual coded software. H & R Block is challenging because they are very dominant in the tax preparation segment. They have a tremendous marketing campaign and they also have software that rivals Turbo Tax. They can pack a package that I can only dream of. I tell my clients that I have had it for almost 10 years, that by the time we get the “pizza”, there are only 2 slices left for CPAs and tax accountants to fight for, Turbo Tax and H & R Block have been eaten the other. 6 slices before we can grab the pizza.
Many people see this as competition and that the winners are the consumers. Low prices equate to bigger savings. On one level, it makes a lot of sense. However, low prices come at a cost. The cost is the lack of money circulating in the market. You have to wonder how these multinational conglomerates can offer such low prices. As it goes deeper, it is the suppliers and employees who suffer. Don’t kid yourself, these multinational conglomerates are for-profit companies that want ever-increasing net income every year. So if they want to win millions and millions of dollars, and they often do, don’t you think there is someone who loses?
Yes there are. It’s the people who own the 5’s and 10’s, the woman who opened her retail fabric store, and it’s me who has fought to keep a small accounting business from failing. Now I am looking to start another business outside of this country. The country I used to love. I feel like we’re all on the Titanic and we’ve hit the iceberg, but a lot of us are still dancing. But not me, I’m looking for a lifeboat.
So think twice when buying from a conglomerate or multinational corporation. Think about the consequences of low prices. Think about the missed opportunity, dreams of someone owning their own business, and a sense of community.