Dell and the Swiss Model
For your pleasure, I will give you the links to 2 very interesting articles on the Dell Computer Company and the Swiss model of democracy:
I was also reading that the most successful Libertarian movement in the world is in Costa Rica. They started a Party there in 1994. It currently has about 10% of their National Assembly. This is after about 10 years.
Let's look at Dell's model for success:
"Dell's combination of direct-to-consumer sales and just-in-time manufacturing means practically no inventory - and unparalleled success in matching product offerings to consumer demand."
The appearance is that this might have no relevance to politics---after all, Democrats and Republicans have been winning most elections for a long time.
Let's look at the concepts, though.
Direct to consumer sales + just in time manufacturing = success (sales)
How would this translate to the Libertarian Party or to politics?
(You see I am not afraid to ask big questions!)
Direct to the consumer means that Dell basically cuts out middlemen, meaning retail stores. I think half of Dell's sales are on the internet, probably the opther half are phone calls coming in from newspaper, magazine and TV ads.
Just in time manufacturing means that Dell has such a good relationship with suppliers, so they reduce their inventory to a very small amount, and their suppliers deliver the parts at the last minute.
Sales means that Dell, the corporation, has a lot of product being shipped out 6-7 days a week, and very little inventory clogging their warehouses.
How on earth would this relate to a political party, such as ours, that believes that less government would promote freedom and prosperity the most?
Remember, Michael Dell started out in Austin, Texas as a 19 year old making computers in his dorm room in 1983. He incorporated in 1984, so Dell has been here for about 20 years. The Libertarian Party has been here for slightly over 30 years.
Let's look at the right side of the equation. Sales for most political parties has meant winning elections either with a majority or plurality of votes. By that standard, if we in the USA are to be as successful as the Costa Rican Libertarian/Classical Liberal Party, we would have to zoom from maybe about 1% of the vote up to 10% of the seats in the South Dakota legislature. That would be 11 seats in the House and/or Senate. When that happens, would Libertarian bills get passed and could we override a non-Libertarian Governor's veto?
So maybe, for the Libertarian Party, this equation might have to modified. We could change "elections" to "increase election wins and libertarian lifestyle ". "Lifestyle" would signify that at most, there is one day each year where Libertarians can get elected for school board, city offices or state or Federal offices. The other 364 days are "non-election" days.
Having a Party that only thinks that elections are important is the same as having a store that is open only one day a year!
What happens to kids age 10 to 17 with Dell? Are they able to buy computers? Yes! Some of them save their money, have checking accounts, they might give their cash to mom or dad, and a check is written and Dell delivers the computers to them!
Are elections set up this way?
You're 17 on election day, sorry, you can't vote.
The electorate, of course, is a numerically smaller group of people, than those who can buy computers.
"Lifestyle" means that Libertarians understand that elections are important and also there are many other social activities that are important, too, that people of all ages can relate to.
Let's look at the left side of the equation.
Direct to consumer sales. What would be the Libertarian equivalent?
Let's see how it works.
Someone wants a computer. (It works this way with virtually any computer company. I am not endorsing Dell. I do not own a Dell computer. They are perhaps the best example of the direct sales model in the world. We can learn from their example. Gosh, what if a bunch of libertarians got together and sold computers?)
They go onto a website.
They configure their system and pay for it with a credit card. A day or so later, the system is shipped from the factory to the customer.
Now, the question we can ask is, are we making it easy for anyone (18 or older or kids interested in libertarian ideas) to do business with us?
Again, we have to look past the "we can vote in November if we are 18" model that is currently our American political system.
Dell is ultra accessible. Anyone with a valid credit card who lives in a country where computers can be exported from the USA to them, hey they can get a computer?
In our Party, whether we are talking about Ayn Rand, Harry Browne, Lysander Spooner, Jefferson, or any other libertarian thinker, we have to decide what our "product" is.
One product can be "winning elections in November."
But we need to have other products.
How do people interact?
We eat, drink, dance, drive cars and trucks, read books, go walking, hiking...there are thousands of activities that we do every day.
Each of these social interactions involves choices.
Choices that involve liberty or restrictions known as laws.
What would be some examples of Libertarian "products"? (Remember, I am trying to hook this up to the Dell business model!)
Businesses, nonprofits, think tanks, Libertarian-established and operated parks, libraries, art galleries, music halls, opera houses,
basically anything that we see out in the "real world", there can be a libertarian version of it.
So for direct to consumer sales, maybe we could put in our equation this idea: easy access
In other words, our Party and like-minded Libertarian businesses, nonprofits and organizations would be ultra-easy to access, so people could try things out and say: "Hey, this is so much better than what I was used to!"
The last part of the equation is: just-in-time manufacturing.
Dell does not leave a huge inventory sitting around, which ties up money, warehouse space and labor. In other words, they are efficient.
What do we, as Libertarians, warehouse? Ideas, projects, ballot questions, attempts to persuade voters, legislators, Congressmen adn Congresswomen?
We have to ask ourselves a bigger question.
What are we making? Are we getting what we are making quickly enough, so people can marvel at what we are doing? Or are we just rolling out product one day in November every 2 years?
Granted, most people would rather go out an buy pizza, videos and coffee than have to change their thinking.
What exactly are we trying to make?
Here we run into the paradox of being a libertarian.
I think this applies equally whether a person is a left-libertarian, center-libertarian, or a conservative-libertarian.
Here's the paradox:
We are trying to get what is big (in employees and dollars, basically, state, local and Federal government), and make it smaller, more efficient and smarter.
It's an unlikely (but real) combination of intelligence, losing weight (or size) and focus (laws and institutions that don't work).
Here's my idea on the just-in-time manufacturing part of the equation.
Would anyone buy a computer with 30 year old parts? 1973 parts?
If computers have changed a lot since the 1970's, don't ideas change, too?
Granted, the basic principles of liberty and less government, those ideas are still the same.
But ideas are expressed uniquely by us, and we constantly receive new ideas that hopefully will illustrate and bring to life our basic ideas.
So just-in-time manufacturing might mean (to us) a faster way of getting our newer ideas out (ideas which support and grow from our basic principles) to the public, so they can "buy" or "agree" with them.
With our paradox, I think a lot of people wouldn't mind becoming smarter and more efficient, but some people would object to having "less" money or goodies from the government.
That is why, as Party, I think we will be judged by voters and nonvoters alike, on what we produce or create.
Political Parties create or produce ideas and people willing to stand by those ideas. The electorate decides which ideas they are comfortable with.
Like Dell, are we willing to shorten the pipeline, and get things out to the public, consumers, voters, people in an easy and quick way, and somehow prove to them that we walk our talk by giving them solid (non-electoral) examples of what we have done that is cool and great?
(Our "suppliers" are libertarians of the past and present, our inventory is ideas that we attempt to create in South Dakota!)
SO for just-in-time manfacturing, maybe we could put this into the equation:
quick and easy access
So what is our re-constituted equation?
easy access + quick and easy access = election and lifestyle wins
Can we simplify this even further?
ultra easy access = optimal winning (ever day in elections and lifestyle).
Gosh, I hope I haven't rambled! I probably have not done justice to the Dell business model.
The article on Swiss Democracy? One writer calls it an experiment. It also consists of three levels:
communes (maybe like precincts)
cantons (almost like states)
Confederation (the Federal government)
Also, the article says that Switzerland is highly decentralized.
Could this be a model for us, on the level of the Canton of South Dakota, and the communes-precincts of our state, too?
I think the article says that there are 3,000 communes per canton in Switzerland. We had 827 precnincts in the 2004 election--to get our State/Canton up to Swiss style, we have to almost quadruple that to 3,000 or so!
Of course, this could be quite difficult to do without a majority of the legislature and a concurring Governor. However...
While State Law allows one Prencinct Commiteeman and one precinct Committeewoman per precinct (aha, we 're up to about 1650 people now!), then perhaps each County oprganization could elect 2 more people per precinct, and call them Deputy Precinct Committeemen/Commiteewoman. Four per precinct, thus over 3,000 elected Libertarians. Maybe that would be a lot simpler than trying to figure out where 3,000 precincts/communes would be set up.
We can learn a lot from the Swiss experiment.
My next post will be shorter. I promise!