#028 The Capitalist, the Chef, the Cakes and the Cooperative

An entrepreneurial young man named Rick falls into a conversation with his relatively wealthy parents in their house on Wight Manor Road. From this conversation he decides to make some money selling tasty cakes, on a busy section on the street he lives, for an afternoon. Rick’s parents agree to gift him the money because they want to encourage him to get a taste of his first business venture.

Rick spends £60 on raw cake ingredients, he hires a snazzy table to put up in the street for £30 and he hires his parent’s kitchen facilities for £60. He then pays a visit to his neighbours close by, Adam and Alice, who he knows have less money than he does, and will therefore be eager to earn, and employs them as cake chef and cake seller respectively, offering to pay them £60 each, to which they agree.

The venture is a success.

Adam and Alice work well together, as siblings, and together they make and successfully sell 60 small, artisan cakes, at £10 per cake. Adam and Alice are so productive and diligent in their work Rick doesn’t need to do anything at all on bake day, he visits the kitchen and the street briefly to make sure everything is going smoothly, then returns to his living room to plan his next venture.

Later in the day, the £600 earn’t from selling the cakes, is divided up,

- Rick takes £150 to reimburse himself for the costs he incurred
- Rick takes £120 and pays Alice and Adam in exchange for their work as agreed

This leaves him with a healthy £330 leftover, which he keeps for himself.

Adam and Alice, encouraged by a talk with their working class parents, approach Rick to collectively say,

“we made £60 each but we know you made £330, we feel this is unfair considering we did all the work, so how about we even it up a little next time, say £150 each, an even split?”

Mick Lynch, General Secretary of the RMT (2022)

Rick is aghast.

He feels having made the effort to coordinate and bring together the table, the kitchen, the ingredients and finally Alice & Adam to the venture, whilst also taking the risk of the venture failing, as cake sales were in no way guaranteed, alongside providing Alice & Adam with money and work, this request is unreasonable.

After talking with his parents again, he feels Alice & Adam should simply accept whatever he choses to give them and as a result vows not to work with Alice and Adam again.

As a result, Rick knocks on other doors on his street, looking for future workers. Whilst doing so he tells the other children and their parents, that Alice and Adam are secret extremists and that he’d made a big mistake working with them, denigrating their characters and distorting their intentions.

Adam and Alice hear this from people on their street, they take markedly different individual approaches in response.

Adam decides to work against the tales told by Rick. He forges an alternative narrative, and tells people on the street he was right to ask for a larger slice of the cake and that they should too, reminding them he, Adam, was the one that actually made the cakes, which the people of Wight Manor Road enjoyed so much.

Alice, on the other hand, decides she needs to rebuild her reputation and fast, so goes out of her way to be extra nice to Rick and his family, and the other families on the road. Alice distances herself from Adam, avoids talking about her request for higher cake selling remuneration, at least for now, and aims to show the neighbours, through her charm and charisma, she is different from both Rick & Adam and also Rick’s portrayal of her.

As a result Wightman Manor Road divides, some take Adam’s side, knowing he actually made the cakes that brought the value to the street. These are mostly the people who live on the more populated left side of the street, where house prices and income are lower, to buy cakes or anything else. Some on the right of the street, where Rick lives, side with him, knowing he took all the risk and actually facilitated and brought the venture together in the first place.

Most however come to support Alice, with her natural charm and likeable character, she convinces them both Adam & Rick are skilled and talented and if anyone wants more cakes on the road, it’s important they can negotiate, compromise and ultimately work together again.

Adam, Alice & Rick continue to believe they are right to take the positions they take but only Alice offers publicly to work with either Adam or Rick again. Rick proclaims he is the street’s most successful “wealth creator” and Adam shouts about how he refuses to capitulate to Rick’s “high rates of exploitation”.

Eventually Alice comes up with a compromise, she suggests they put aside their differences and launch a cake based cooperative, combining their skill sets, sharing the risk, and negotiating to more evenly sharing the profits.

She proudly asserts the cooperative would be the true progress Wight Manor Road wants, and she goes further, she asserts anything Wight Manor Road needs, like the trains that run through the train station at the end of the road, should be owned by everyone on the road, rather than just a few rich families on the right hand side of the street, to avoid further division on the road in the future…

Public Service Broadcasting - Progress (Live) (2017)

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Exploring and arguing for radical, green & progressive ideas. https://twitter.com/ProgressiveJimi

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