Loving this debate, love that it's logical, civil and well thought out.
My husband and I ran a carpet and upholstery cleaning company for 12 years. Here's how I believe this relates:
We spent more money than any of our local competition (43 competitors) in our county on what we felt would make us the elitist company in the area; this included schooling for employees and purchasing of top of the line equipment and cleaning chemicals to name a few.
Although there is no requirement, we insisted that our entire staff become IICRC certified. This is the certification company known world-wide to all carpet cleaners. Think of it like a plumber or an electirician - who would you rather have? One who has his Master's License that took years of formal schooling and on the job training to learn and master his trade or the local guy who took a class once in high school, interned briefly for a company, learned some basics and started his own company charging slightly lower than his competition?
We spent thousands of dollars on schooling for most employees, their knowledge on carpets, types, fibers, fabrics, ph levels, chemicals, stains & types and their ph levels, proper equipment functions, etc; you name it, if it related to carpet/upholstery cleaning, they had intimate knowledge of it. In fact, our employees were so knowlegable we charged a consulting fee because we often were sought out by other competitors in other counties we didn't service on how to get a certain type of stain out or the like. We sent employees out to local business's to train their staff on how to properly maintain their carpets/upholsery.
We also charged a higher price for our service, guaranteed all workmanship 100%. Clients often called for price and got a nice "spiel" on why our prices are a little higher. Why they should choose our company vs the competition.
While the economy was good, our business flourished, we grew to a point that we had to ask ouselves "how big do we want to be?" & "how big can we get and still deliver the very best?". We made a decision that was best for us because we had the freedom to do so.
We were also pleased that 90% of our business was repeat business. We were able to get to the point of spending less money on advertising.
We also were pleased that we had an edge on the competition, we had more IICRC certified technicians with their Masters than any of our competitors in all of Northern Michigan
- in fact, we had more than any other company north of Detroit all the way up to the U.P. - that's saying a lot!
When we first started, my husband made the comment that he wished it were required (regulated) that all carpet and upholstery cleaning companies be IICRC certified. Initially, I agreed with him. He also thought that there should be a standard pricing stucture so we didn't lose clients to cheaper companies with poor workmanship. Initially I agreed there to.
However, at our peak, we learned that most people wanted knowledgable contractors, quality workmanship and they were willing pay a little extra to have it. We were able to offer better pay to our employees than our competitors did as well.
We recieved phone calls and applications a couple times a week from those working for our competitors seeking employment with us.
Over time, we also learned that there were some clients we just didn't want, we turned work away. Let our competition have the difficult clients, crap jobs, we had flourished and could choose. It was great.
Due to so many competitors not being certified, not as knowledgable as our team, not as good as us, we gained a lot of permanent clients.
Had we not been in a free market society, we may not have had the choices we were able to make.
We choose to offer the very best and deliver it. We choose to pay our employees higher than the competition. We choose all of these things because we were free to do so.
We also choose to charge a premium for these services, and we got it. We also made damn good money during those times, bought a bigger house, better personal vehicles, "big-boy toys", took vacations, etc;
Then the economy peaked out and started on it's downward spiral. We began losing profits, customers, had to lower our prices, lay off a couple employees, do more of the on-site work ourselves, stop taking vacations, stop going out to eat, etc;
Companies and businesses also started cutting back. Cleaning services all around took a hit. Our bread & butter was our commercial clientelle. Our weekly clients went to bi-weekly, our bi-weekly clients to monthly, our monthly clients to quarterly, etc; Some of our biggerst commercial companies bought equipment and hired us to train their staff on how to use it so we lost some business altogether.
In '07 we had several of our commercial clients go out of business, many of them filed bankruptcy, listed us, and we never got paid. We lost thousands on bankruptcies alone, we still paid our commissioned employees though, it wasn't their fault. But we choose to do that, we didn't have to. The gov. wasn't telling us we had to. I know of several companies that had the policy of if they didn't get paid then their commissoned employees didn't either. It was a risk the employees knew about in advance.
We found ourselves with a choice to make: continue to adjust, ride out the poor economy or sell and start something new, not so prone to economic swings. We choose the later. In Jan. of '08 we sold our company (for a pretty penny in comparison to the other companies that were selling). We didn't have a regulation on how much we were allowed to sell it for.
We picked the asking price, one of our long term employees ended up being the purchaser. Therefore we agreed to lower the price, still made more than the other companies around us that sold or just plain went under, but the new owner agreed to keep the long term existing staff which was important to us. (They did re-negotiate pay levels as was the new owners right to do so - again free market).
We were able to do all this due to a free market.
I'm not sure I would own a business if I were told exactly how I had to run it, what I had to pay my employees, what I had to charge, etc; And I'm pretty sure our company wouldn't have been as successful as it was while we owned it had we not had the freedom to make our own choices.
*Another point is this: my husband and I spent the first few years living in poverty while establishing a reputation and client base. We choose to not receive food stamps or the like, but we also choose to not buy extras, no steak, no crab legs or lobster, no alcohol, etc; We struggled but did so responsibly. We didn't have cable tv, nice cars, toys, didn't go to the movies, no vacations, didn't go out to eat but once a year, only purchased used furniture, used clothes, used toys for the kids, etc; Garage sales and goodwill were our best friends! We also both worked 60-80 hrs a week in the business. We had 4 kids living in a 2 bedroom house with some land with a pole barn on it, that's how we started. We were packed in that house like sardines in a can.
We sacrificied and worked long hours to establish our business. In a socialistic society I imagine we would not have to do that, or at least not to the extreme we did. I also believe that we would not have been able to reap the rewards to the extent that we did either. For us it was worth it. And all of it was our choice.
To me, I think a lot of people would like to see socialism when times are tough, the economy is in recession/depression and love the free market aspect when the economy is flourishing and their paychecks are fatter.
I couldn't imagine poker being regulated this way. If I were told exactly how much profit I am allowed to make, exactly what skills were required to play, where I am allowed and not allowed to play, I may not have started.
Think of all the sharks I've fed while learning to play! The ones I still do when I go on tilt or have to leave a sng or mtt because my kids are fighting or get hurt! I make a pretty good profit overall from live play, I'm still struggling adjusting to online play. Online players everywhere will have lower profits if I'm not there to feed them! LOL!
I'm not real sure what type of regulations are being referred to in this post for poker, my initial instincts are geared towards free market, but I'd like to know more details, what others have in mind.