Ikea: Libertarian Utopia?


That's what entertaining New York Post film reviewer Kyle Smith argued this weekend. A snippet, complete with Swedish characters FUBARred by the translation to Internetese:

Libertarians should be F„rgglad. I'm not being Sn„rtig when I say IKEA isn't soft cushiony socialism; it's Wal-Mart in Democrat drag.

Outsourcing? IKEA invented it. In the 1960s, when Sweden's furniture cartel tried to drive it out of business by organizing a boycott of suppliers, IKEA went to Poland for materials. Today it outsources its customers, sending us on free buses from Manhattan to Elizabeth, NJ.

Taxes? IKEA hates them. At the onshore tax haven underneath Newark Airport's flight patterns, you pay half—3.5 percent—of the typical New Jersey tax rate. Kamprad is a tax refugee living in Switzerland, not Sweden, and the complicated corporate structure of IKEA, which is run by a taxman-disorienting array of holding companies, drives down its Eurotaxes.

Imagine what would happen if Macy's were subjected to a "ruthless" business model, i.e. one that put customers ahead of job creation. Macy's is run like a Soviet train station, where one guy sells your ticket, another guy inspects it, a third guy tears it, and nobody can tell you what train goes where. The last time I was in Macy's to test-drive a sofa, four different sales gnats came buzzing around me in search of a commission. There were three customers.

Fire the hard-sellers, lower the price of the sofa by $200 and you've got IKEA, where most items can simply be picked up and rolled out the door. At the entrance there is a sign: "No one will bother you." Five words, one libertarian ideal.

Whole thing here. I for one despise my Swedish overlords—I always feel like I'm in one of those endless cornfield mazes, unable to find my way out, only it's swollen with meandering humanity and the sickly sweet smell of meatball stroganoff—but I say that while typing on my freshly Ikea'd desk, next to my matching new Ikea bookshelf and file cabinet, all purchased for less than $200.