Some people wonder why there is so much concern about the steel industry.  Lots of businesses fail every year.  That’s capitalism.  The wonders of the Free Market.

The obvious reason steel matters is the size of the problem.  The number of jobs at risk.  All at once.  Other industries decline over longer periods and the people losing their jobs can often be employed in other businesses, gradually.  The thousands at risk in the steel industry could not all be absorbed at once into other industries.  Or even not at once.

The other factor is that in most areas where steel is produced it is the main employer.  If steel-making disappears there will be very little left.  This may be hard for some people to appreciate if they live in London or somewhere else where there are jobs in all sorts of different types of businesses.

The Free Market has allowed many parts of the country to become over-dependent on certain industries: steel, coal, shipbuilding, car-manufacturing, even agriculture.  A downturn in one of these industries affects almost everyone in the area either directly or indirectly.  Efforts at growing new industries to replace the old have usually been ineffective.  The scale of the problem was too great.

Is this an argument for more active government?  Would economic planning be the answer?  Is this a case for Socialism? (Remember that?)  Why not?  You can have planned economic development without total state control of everything.  It may be too late for some industries in some areas, but it is worth thinking about for the future.

And what about your business?

  • Do you have all your eggs in one basket?
  • Do you depend on one major client?
  • How quickly could your business adapt to changes in demand for your product or service?
  • Could you develop another product line or a different facet of your business?
  • Is it too late to think about Plan B?

Have you ever discussed this with colleagues?

How about talking to consultants?

Don’t leave it until it’s too late!