WARNING, SPOILERS AHEAD
Halfway through the novel, the protagonist meets a hobo who used to be a worker at the Twentieth Century Motor Company, whose bankruptcy years before was a key event in the novel for several reasons. He tells what had actually happened there:
After the founder's death, the heirs decided to manage the company under the motto: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs." The consequence was obvious: all workers pretty much turned into beggars, inventing more needs, while anyone who demonstrated competence was required to work harder. While the press praised the "enlightened" management, productivity collapsed, quality went to shit, and clients ran away.