The Twentieth Century Motor Company of Starnesville, Wisconson, was a fictional business in Ayn Rand’s novel- Atlas Shrugged. The Twentieth Century Motor Company was the best auto-mobile producer until when the founder, Jed Starnes died, leaving his 3 children to his estate. The result, was disastrous. Before we continue on with the story, let’s have a look at the real life example- My father’s workplace.
About 3 years ago, my father’s boss decided to adopt the same policy as what the heirs of Starnesville did- From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs. What the company did was in an attempt to increase productivity, it adopted a communist stance that everyone shares the bonus from the profit equally, thus theoretically if everyone contributes more, everyone gets more in return.
During the first year, productivity did increase (as in Starnesville), my father was gullible enough to think that this is better than individuals working for themselves. However, when I pointed out the fact that he has worked harder than others, including fixing an existing program to make the production more cost efficient, he frowned and said he doesn’t mind helping the company for the greater good.
The second year ended and my father was displeased with the fact that the bonuses this year was not as good as last year, he did the same amount of work as last year thus he started to feel the regime is unfair and not helpful to the production. The third year sees the conclusion to the Starnesville strategy. The bonus returned to the original setting: You reap what you sow. I could only be thankful that this was U-turned so quickly before more damages could have been done.
Let’s get back to the story of Starnesville. As you may have guessed, it never recovered and Starneville become a ruin. The ruin was eventually visited by the protagonists Dagny Taggart and Henry Rearden where they learned of the “Motor of the World”.
For a more detailed story, click here. Or alternatively you can purchase Atlas Shrugged to read it for yourself. But best yet, just look at Detroit and you can see Starnesville in its full extent.