An interesting thing when it comes to socialism is that there’s always this belief that socialism has to rely on the state. While the state offers up permanent solutions and can implement things on a scale far grander than what most NGOs can, that doesn’t mean that using the state as a solution for everything is all that great. As a government employee working at an organization that holds a natural monopoly over its market, which is in turn managed by politicians’ appointees, I feel like I have a familiarity with how state socialism works in a way that you can’t learn about on-paper. The lack of incentives to economize the organization run deep, and the inefficiencies of placing bureaucrats who aren’t familiar with the production process in charge of the workers is apparent. I’m going to bring up several examples, while trying to keep it as a vague as possible, in order to give you an idea of why things are the way they are.
- Every problem requires a solution on paper – in my trade, we work on infrastructure. Natural disasters routinely destroy this infrastructure and create hazardous working conditions for us when we’re trying to restore service. Several years ago, two men that work for this organization were hurt during an internationally famous storm that wreaked havoc on millions of people. Safety officers and human resource ladies came together to create a new educational program, without any input from the actual workers, which effectively handicapped the apprenticeship program at the organization. Now, about 90% of the workforce can only do the duties that pre-apprentices can do, while spending years learning coursework that they’ll never apply for the better part of a decade and being flown out to expensive training sites to learn things they won’t implement for years. Now, this organization is incredibly unpopular in the area I live in due to the simple fact that we can’t provide consistent service anymore, because while we have the manpower and the skillsets to do the job, regulations crafted by non-workers in offices that looked good on paper but are terrible in real life have crippled production.
- Production is a non-issue for state monopolies – the failure to provide consistent service for an essential feature in modern life has left many people angry. In addition, due to the fact that the new training programs are far more expensive, and the vast majority of the workforce is now useless due to regulations, the rates that this organization charges for its services are among the highest in the world. The people are stuck with very hefty bills for inconsistent service and it doesn’t matter to this organization because there’s zero economic incentive to ever fix the problem. The customers can’t go elsewhere, so despite providing this service in a very inefficient way, we never have to worry about being replaced. The customers just have to deal with it, unfortunately, unless changes are made at the top of this organization.
- Politicians don’t solve things – Every election cycle recently, people in this area running for office have campaigned on solving the problems at my employer, without actually ever doing anything once in office. The politicians appoint their allies and friends to the board that runs my organization, and that creates some serious disconnects between the wants of the workers and the wants of management. Management is incentivized to just prolong their sucking up of money as long as possible, and due to the fact that they are appointed, try to quell political backlash and ensure that their political sponsor’s image isn’t hurt by the inadequacies of the organization. Any solutions talked about are simply the solutions that, on the surface, would look good in the eyes of the public, with zero input from the workers who know better. Rules that are crafted are meant to sell people on progress, rather than address problems that are too sophisticated for laymen to understand without learning material. This results in ridiculous scenarios, where for instance we can’t charge up Milwaukee batteries on our work trucks anymore, due to the fact that our work trucks have to be completely de-energized now in order to increase safety. We work on power lines, where the work trucks are energized whenever we’re working on the lines anyways, so if we can’t charge our power tools and swap out batteries now, that’s a huge problem created by unknowledgeable people who strictly benefit only from seeming helpful.
- Workers are enslaved by bureaucracy – while the workers know what to do, and are on the ground to see the absurdity of all the new policies and rules rolled out, that doesn’t mean that they have any voice in such a system. At best, we’re just treated as the cogs in a large apparatus, simply working for the managers and politically connected who care little about the efficiency or production like we do. Because there’s no emphasis on increasing production, because the only inputs come from high-up in the pyramidal structure that defines modern statist organization, workers are really on the receiving end for everything under such a system. We have to deal with the angry customers, we have to deal with the new ridiculous rules, and we take the blame for not being as productive as we should be, in a system that has handcuffed us.
While the state is capable of many things, that doesn’t mean its necessarily efficient and because of its top-down nature, the problems that come up are rarely addressed. The reason why Surplus Statism endorses the idea of QUANGOs is because they’re vastly more efficient than both state firms and private companies in adjusting themselves to cater to both the workers and the consumers. QUANGOs, run by unions, owned by employees, and with their dividends managed by holding companies, allow for different groups inside and outside the organization to be represented. QUANGOs, with their voting shares split into thirds between the workers, the managers, and the consumers, allows for each side to pursue their interests in how the firm operates. QUANGOs, unlike both state socialist firms and capitalist companies, allow for people to receive more of the surplus value they create due to the syndicalism inherent in their design. DMSG sees QUANGOs as the answer to all of these problems that other economic models experience, as it gives the workers a voice in how their operations are ran, it incentivizes the managers to maximize profits, and provides the consumer unions with the ability to swing votes in favor of the workers or managers on issues.
The truth of the matter is that the state isn’t a good replacement for capitalism, especially due to the fact that there’s little to no worker democracy involved in the functioning of such organizations. In addition to that, the incentive systems are problematic at best from the start, the controllers are always politically-linked, no one owns the means of production, and the workers receive a tiny sliver of their surplus value. The state is resistant to change, so assuming that any vehicle, driven by political elites, would ever transition willfully into any sort of communism is ridiculous. There’s zero incentives for the authorities, who hold all the power in these organizations, to change anything at all. Even while the employer I work for is unionized, the collective bargaining agreement isn’t treated seriously because there’s no repercussions for ignoring it. Due to the fact that the employer is a state entity, a lot of basic safety laws are ignored because OSHA and other safety organizations aren’t incentivized to fine what amounts to basically themselves. All in all, state socialism might as well be seen as a contradictory term, because the model is by its nature flawed from the start.