What if the auto industry embraced a social enterprise model?

What if the tax breaks, incentives and bail-outs that this industry received were predicated on the idea that ‘profits’ were being reinvested into the organization and not being given out as bonuses? What if only companies that were not-for-profit were able to receive such sponsorship from the government?

If someone could do this math:

  • total government subsidies (including grants, incentives, tax breaks, bailouts. research grants, etc)
  • divided between the number of people who benefited
  • equals government dollars per person per industry

I think we would find that many not-for-profit industries, like the arts, employ more people per gov dollar and make a dollar go a lot further than the industries that we like to imagine are efficient. Like the auto industry. The often touted reason for private sector bailouts (jobs) produces rather fuzzy math indeed.

A social enterprise auto company would have been reinvesting the profits into the organization for years, (think environment, think r&d) and would likely be far ahead on electric car research or have saved their own funds to do so or would be receiving research grants knowing that the future profits were once again being reinvested.

The issue here is not the auto industry, or even the arts industry, it is the notion that very large amounts of public money are given to the private sector with the clear understanding that they will produce profits for very few individuals.

How do we fault the people receiving the money if our system allows it? Why do we continue to build a system that allows it?