Apparently Capitalism is to Blame for Feminist Business Flops

Feminist-run businesses are largely failing. Why? Because capitalism, friends!

The article’s author, GetBullish founder Jennifer Dziura, describes her company as “an organization that provides career and ladybiz resources from a feminist perspective and offers a feminist web shop.” She focuses and examines the failures of three feminist-run businesses in the last year or so–a scandal at Thinx, the bankruptcy of Nasty Gal (famous for the #GirlBoss mantra), and the sale of Modcloth to Wal-Mart. Although the author favors Scandinavian-style socialism, she doesn’t lay the blame entirely on one company’s fall from grace – Thinx-  on capitalism. She writes:

The charges against Miki Agrawal, former CEO of period underwear company Thinx, are numerous and varied, from not giving enough fully paid maternity leave (more than common at startups, and a problem I think we ought to handle at the national level, like every other developed nation) – to allegedly groping an employee’s breasts, getting naked in the office, and conducting FaceTime meetings from the toilet. These things are not good or normal in any type of workplace.

One writer blamed the whole thing on capitalism, claiming these problems could have been avoided had Agrawal instead started a “workers’ collective.” Le sigh. Really? It seems so tedious for me to even type out the entirely obvious reasons that an entrepreneur wouldn’t invest her entire savings, call in every favor, risk her financial future, work long hours for no pay, etc., to build a workers’ collective. I mean, you can if you want. It would be a lovely thing to do. But no cool and interesting products that I know of are currently produced – much less invented by – workers’ collectives. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that Thinx period panties are great. They work very well for a lot of people. They’re a game changer, a lifestyle enhancer, and even a money saver for some.

It must have been very hard for this feminist to admit that free enterprise isn’t always to blame for a company’s failure. (At least we’ll give credit where credit is due.)

However, it’s important to note why feminist-minded businesses are failing. First, they are niche-markets without much global appeal. (Harvard Business Review noted in 2014 that exploiting feminism in marketing can be a major turn-off.) Second, companies with overt political agendas alienate consumers most. And third, market forces will root out poorly-run companies who boast a bad business model. Bad news for these companies: feminism–particularly third-wave feminism– is still largely unpopular.

I have no qualms with women-run businesses. (I’m a self-employed female in the process of launching my own business very soon.) However, basing your company on an impractical business model–a la a feminist one–is largely doomed to fail. (This also happens in companies dominated by men.) Businesses aren’t immune to disaster nor should they be, which is why government should never get fully entangled in them.

Perhaps from their failures, these women will learn that “sticking it to the man” doesn’t come without consequences. Stop making business political–plain and simple.

 

New Book Makes Case for Airbnb to Thrive in Hyper-Regulatory World

As conservatives, we applaud and pay lip service to the ride-sharing economy and welcome it with open arms. We stand with the company at the federal and state level whenever they face regulatory roadblocks to operation. However, do we truly understand the importance of companies like Airbnb and what they do to bolster free enterprise? Not nearly enough. Hence why Resurgent readers should pick up a copy of The Airbnb Story by Fortune Magazine editor Leigh Gallagher.

I randomly stumbled upon the book on Twitter from a retweet by Brian Chesky, Airbnb’s CEO. It piqued my interest because very few in politics have positively and objectively examined Airbnb for its contributions as a creative disruptor–given omnipresent opposition the company still faces from politicians, the hotel lobby, and so-called housing rights advocates. Here in Virginia, Airbnb faces an uphill battle — but not as daunting as the roadblocks placed on the company in New York City. I’ve used the service before for a May 2015 NYC trip and found it to be a cheaper alternative. Millions of others have used Airbnb during vacations and business trips to get a more affordable, cozy, and comfortable experience in the city they traverse.

Airbnb has achieved a lot of success since its inception in 2008. What I appreciated about Gallagher’s book was how fair and unbiased her take on the company was. Citing personal experience using the platform, interviews/interactions with company higher-ups, and seeking out stories of Airbnb users–both good and bad–she carefully but tactfully documents Airbnb from its bumpy start to its all-star status now.

Gallagher indirectly hints at a painful truth about most successful companies today: you must start from the bottom and work your way to the top. Like other profitable companies out there, Airbnb is the product of determination, hard work, and trial-and-error. Success isn’t attained overnight, Airbnb’s three founders realized. None of them had a hospitality background or formal management skills. Taking risks, Gallagher noted, comprised most of their strategy — and it paid off. Airbnb’s ascent in the world should serve as an inspiration to other start-ups and young entrepreneurs.

Moreover, Airbnb’s success can be attributed to personalizing and tailoring accommodations for people of all backgrounds, ages, and travel demands. Compared to overpriced hotels, Airbnb offers an array of  choices for travelers to stay at. As Chapter 3 “Airbnb Nation” notes, “Today the scope of Airbnb’s inventory reflect the diversity in the world’s housing market. Its three million listings are all unique, and the range of properties and experiences available is hard to imagine,” (59).

Here’s another important section that struck me about the company’s mission statement people tend to gloss over:

“The opportunity to show some humanity or to receive some expression of humanity from others, even if you never experience that person outside of a few messages, some fluffed towels, and a welcome note, has become rare in our disconnected world, (79).”

It is true. We live in a disconnected world, and yes, a very disconnected country where human connections are seriously–but not entirely–lacking. Gallagher notes how positive this facet is, however ambitious or unsuccessful Airbnb is at attaining this goal.

Gallagher went on to write that one Airbnb investor observed that, “Uber is transactional; Airbnb is humanity.” While you can have great chats with Uber drivers, Airbnb deviates from its ride-sharing compatriots by aspiring to be personal. I think both companies are unique and shouldn’t be pitted against one another. But Airbnb definitely aspires to bring something more to the table than Uber does. In fact, because of Airbnb’s success, the company is branching out to cater more to travel needs–with hosts offering personalized tours, trips, or classes in cities to offer guests more enjoyable experiences. That’s pretty neat, if you ask me.

Airbnb has brought more than a service or product to the forefront. It’s brought about a movement to “Belong Anywhere” as Gallagher notes in her book. How many services produce a movement these days? Very few. In spite of some of their overt social justice overtones, Airbnb is onto something–creating a culture and movement that empowers both consumers and home owners to make money, service others, and contribute positively back to the economy. I’ll admit, like the author notes, Airbnb is not for everyone. I certainly wouldn’t list my home there – but I plan to use them for some upcoming trips (especially those abroad). Many others will choose to be hosts or guests, and that’s a beautiful thing!

As Gallagher notes, Airbnb fits perfectly well into the ever-changing economy that’s trending more towards ride-sharing. Consumers are craving more choices–choices that should be afforded in a free market society like ours. If you want to familiarize yourself more with Airbnb, not only use the service–read Leah Gallagher’s book.

What a Shame: U.S. Now Ranks 17th in Economic Freedom

The Heritage Foundation unveiled its 2017 Index of Economic Freedom this week. Unsurprisingly, the U.S. fell in rank with respect to economic freedom–yet again.

When former President Obama took office in 2009, the United States ranked sixth on the economic freedom scale. Today, our nation holds the 17th spot–below the Baltic Republic of Lithuania (which is tremendously bouncing back after Soviet communism).

What best explains the U.S.’s continual fall from grace with respect to economic freedom? Heritage Foundation notes the increase in government spending, regulations, and failed 2009 stimulus program as contributing factors.

Here’s the methodology behind their rankings:

Since 1995, the index has measured a nation’s commitment to limited government and free enterprise on a scale of 0 to 100 by evaluating four critical policy pillars, including rule of law and regulatory efficiency.

These commitments have powerful effects: Countries achieving higher levels of economic freedom consistently and measurably outperform others in economic growth, long-term prosperity, and social progress. Those losing freedom, on the other hand, risk economic stagnation, high unemployment, and deteriorating social conditions.

Here’s a video from them that explains why the U.S.’s economic freedom ranking depreciated so much under the Obama administration:

 

The Trump administration can seize the momentum they have to reverse course and promote free market policies that embolden Americans of all income brackets to succeed. How? Get regulatory agencies off the backs of Americans. (And shrink the size and scope of federal government too.)

While it’s amazing to see other nations embrace free enterprise, America should be leading the pack as we have historically done. Our nation should reclaim a place in the top ten spot, at minimum. It’s rather embarrassing we continue to slip. Nevertheless, there are many opportunities for the U.S. to bounce back.

To see where other countries stand on Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom, go here. It’s a very nifty resource.

Hey Leftists, Free Enterprise Saves Lives

New findings suggest that the city of Austin, Texas, is experiencing a surge in drunk driving after Uber and Lyft pulled out in May 2016. Per Austin Police Department findings, drunk driving rose  7.5 percent after Uber and Lyft suspended operations in the city:

DWI arrests have spiked since Uber and Lyft left Austin. The Austin Police Department released new numbers to KEYE TV that show there were 359 DWI arrests from May 9, the day Uber and Lyft shut down, to May 31st of this year. Last year during the same time period, there were 334 arrests. That’s a 7.5 percent increase in the weeks following their departure.

Both companies suspended ride-sharing services after Austin residents voted against Proposition 1 last spring. Had it passed, Proposition 1 would have overturned city-wide regulations like fingerprint-based background checks for drivers and a prohibition on picking up / dropping customers while parked in traffic lanes. The measure was defeated by a 56-44 margin, with only 17 percent of registered voters in Travis County participating in the election. All Austin ride-sharing drivers now must have their fingerprints scanned by February 1, 2017.

Here’s the impact Uber and Lyft had on drunk driving when they were operating in Austin, TX:

Before Uber came to town in 2014, Austin Police Department’s data showed that the city had an average of 525 drunk driving arrests per month. When these numbers were revisited a year after ridesharing came to Austin, drunk driving arrests had dropped by five percent. This trend continued the following year when the number of drunk driving arrests dropped by an additional 12 percent, bringing the average number of arrests to about 438 per month.

Not only did drunk driving spike in Austin after the companies pulled out, 10,000 people lost their jobs as a result of this vote last spring. Talk about a dangerous move for people and their livelihoods…

Those elected officials opposed to emerging technologies must be held accountable for putting public safety at risk. Why stifle ingenuity? Is it because these individuals hate being forced to compete in the free market? Or is it because the taxi lobby sends them a big, fat check to maintain the status quo? Creating artificial cushions to protect yourself in an industry is not only foolish, it’s antithetical to American free enterprise. Given these findings, banning Uber and Lyft is going to cost many people their jobs and their lives. The people of Austin must work tirelessly to reverse course.

Let’s hope emerging technologies like Uber and Lyft can continue be embraced in larger cities across the country without facing any more roadblocks to operation.

 

Small Business Saturday Showcases How Wonderful Free Enterprise Is

Today marks the seventh annual celebration of Small Business Saturday, an initiative launched by American Express on November 27, 2010, to encourage Americans to #ShopLocal on the Saturday following Thanksgiving.  It originally started to compel AmEx users to use their cards at local merchants. However, the shopping holiday has exploded well beyond that. Why? Americans – true to their nature – love small business (one of the  many by-products of free enterprise).

Small Business Saturday has grown from incentivizing AmEx card holders to seeing enthusiastic consumers voluntarily shop at their local brick-and-mortar shops. Though perceived as a “marketing scheme” by some observers, American Express assures it is not. Here’s more from Washington Post:

But isn’t it just a marketing gimmick invented by American Express? Not really, but according to Fortune’s Jeremy Quittner it’s definitely a marketing campaign.

The card payments company started the campaign by offering cardholders a $25 credit if they shopped at a small business. American Express scaled that back to $10 in 2013 and last year offered no financial incentives. You can’t really blame them–it’s not as if small businesses need the help anymore, with so many billions being purchased.

But the campaign continues. Instead of offering a credit to consumers American Express shifted its strategy and now provides marketing help for its merchants to capitalize on the big day.

And here’s some more context from Forbes:

In truth, it was created by American Express for a number of PR and marketing reasons. But since its inception in 2009, Small Business Saturday has outgrown its AMEX roots and the “local-first” movement it helped propel has been adopted by a growing number of small businesses across the country.

 Small business is the backbone of this country
Even President Obama, who is largely a foe to small business, admitted that small businesses “are the backbone of our economy and the cornerstones of our communities.” They are, but largely not because of his policies. As of November 2015, there are a record 28.5 million small businesses in existence in the United States. They allegedly represent roughly 50% of the private-sector economy. (That’s YUGE, my friends.)
Small business, not big government, is the best job creator out there
Government’s job isn’t to create jobs; its purpose to a create a business-friendly environment virtually free of burdensome regulations and barriers-to-entry for those with entrepreneurial inklings.
Senator Ted Cruz echoed this sentiment in a Dallas Morning Star op-ed emphasizing the important role small businesses play in fueling local economies. Here’s a snippet:

Texans understand that prosperity doesn’t come from Washington. Government agencies do not drive the economy. Small businesses all across our state create jobs, drive up wages, and grow the economy. In Texas, whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, you understand that people want jobs, and that small businesses are powerful job creators.

Small businesses, by-products of free enterprise, are well-received in this country
A Gallup poll released in May 2016 revealed that capitalism was viewed more positively than socialism 60 percent to 35 percent, respectively. Moreover, the poll found that 85 percent of those polled had a positive view of free enterprise versus 60 percent who had a positive view of capitalism. (Phrasing is extremely important, so refrain from using capitalism.) Here’s more from Gallup:

Americans retain very positive images of small business, entrepreneurs and free enterprise. A little more than half have a positive view of big business, and less than half have a positive view of the federal government.

As would be expected, Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are somewhat more positive about big business, free enterprise and capitalism than are Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents.

Democrats, on the other hand, are much more positive than Republicans about the federal government and socialism. Notably, Democrats have a more positive image of socialism than they do of big business, and their images of socialism and capitalism are essentially the same. These broad patterns are similar to what was found in 2012.

This is encouraging news. As more people begin to discover the beauty of small business, more will hopefully come to realize how uplifting and moral free enterprise is. I’m proud to support local businesses and hope you are too. Do you plan to #ShopSmall? Of course, you should!

Want to learn more about the shopping holiday? Follow their efforts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Alexandria and Austin: A Tale of Two Cities

Two well-known cities run by leftists that ironically invite innovation have made the news recently. One (Alexandria, Virginia) is being applauded for enacting actual progress, the other (Austin, Texas) is being rightfully shamed for perpetuating regression.

Let’s compare Alexandria and Austin, shall we? They are both major cities dominated by Democrats on the city council level. (One-party rule, especially that which tilts left, is quite dangerous.) Oddly enough, both have fairly pro-gun and pro-carry laws. Both cities are historically and culturally important. The former has a population of roughly 150,000, while the latter has a population close to 900,000. Alexandria is just 15 minutes from D.C. proper, while Austin is Texas’ state capital. However, one city decided it cannot suppress innovation any longer–for now, at least.

The city of Alexandria, VA finally welcomed food trucks after much resistance. The city of Austin recently saw ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft pull out after residents voted 56 to 44 percent last Saturday to keep Draconian regulations in place. They lobbied $9 million and ultimately failed.

Alexandria has approved three of five proposed food truck sites. Here’s more about the ordinance:

The new ordinance will allow food truck vending from 7:00 am until 8:00 pm and a food truck may vend no longer than four continuous hours at one location. The locations are expected to have 4 parking spaces designated for food truck parking and that would accommodate up to three food trucks.

Uber and Lyft pulled out of Austin citing the city’s ridiculous rules for fingerprint checks, data reporting, and vehicle identification, for example. Here is the reasoning for Uber and Lyft pulling out of Austin:

Officials with both companies have said fingerprinting requirements are burdensome and unnecessary, given their own name-based background checks. City officials say fingerprinting adds another layer of security and balked at the multimillion-dollar corporations seemingly writing their rules here.

How could a city in conservative Texas reject the innovations of the ride-sharing economy, yet a city in purple Virginia embrace it? It’s quite confounding.

Bureaucrats and cronies enjoy saturated markets because they control them and can easily root out innovation. Why? These innovations breed opportunity, prosperity, and competition–concepts central planners and crony capitalists greatly fear. In contrast, the standard options only offer a top-down structure, terrible service, and no potential to grow. Quashing the American thirst for innovation still has serious consequences. As a result, Austin will soon feel the wrath of free market forces.

For individuals who pride themselves as “progressives,” leftists and their crony enabler friends dominating city councils exhibit cowardice for discouraging innovation. Until more freedom-minded people are elected to city councils across the country, innovation will be threatened by big government and crony capitalism.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is Very Triggered by Chick-fil-A

Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-NYC) has issued a dire warning to the residents of New York City: don’t you dare give your business to that hateful, bigoted fast-food chain Chick-fil-A!

Chick-fil-A opened its Manhattan location last year and has unsurprisingly been met with a lot of excitement by locals. A fourth location is set to open in Queens soon. According to a source, here’s what de Blasio said:

“Chick-fil-A is anti-LGBT,” he said in a statement.

“This group imparts a strong anti-LGBT message by forcing their employees and volunteers to adhere to a policy that prohibits same-sex love.  It is outrageous that Chick-fil-A is quietly spreading its message of hate by funding these types of organizations.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio also spoke out against the chain’s newest restaurant at an unrelated press conference Tuesday — noting they have every right to open, but New Yorkers shouldn’t eat there.

“What the ownership of Chick-fil-A has said is wrong,” he said.

“I’m certainly not going to patronize them and I wouldn’t urge any other New Yorker to patronize them. But they do have a legal right.”

Here’s a picture of that supposed hate-filled, wretched place de Blasio speaks of:

DeBlasio isn’t the only mayor of a major city to make such a proclamation. He echoed the same sentiments from the late Boston Mayor Tom Menino, who warned Boston residents to stay far away from the popular fast-food chain.

Does the smell of meaty morsels irritate Comrade DeBlasio? Do the long lines of hungry patrons eagerly waiting to purchase Waffle Fries drenched in special Chick-fil-A sauce bother him? Chick-fil-A’s existence is a beautiful testament to free enterprise and small business. It certainly beats the long lines of dispirited people waiting for food rations as they did in de Blasio’s beloved former Soviet Union. Here’s more about his 1983 trip there from the New York Post:

De Blasio’s trip also occurred five years before he went to Nicaragua in support of the Marxist Sandinista regime there to distribute food and medicine during its civil war. At the time, the US government opposed the Sandinistas, which had received weapons from the Soviets and supplies from Cuba.

The trips show de Blasio’s fascination as a young man with the workings of leftist and communist countries. He also honeymooned in Cuba.

While de Blasio has discussed and defended his work in Nicaragua, he has said nary a word about going behind the Iron Curtain.

A popular fast food chain with an ethical, principled business model bothers de Blasio, yet he tolerates transgender bathrooms, desired to ban horse-driven carriages from Central Park, and is vehemently opposed to charter schools?  But alas, Chick-fil-A is the problem.

As we enter this dystopian society, remember all is not lost. Snack on Chick-fil-A with pride and continue to put your principles into action.