Common Good Capitalism Is Inevitable
There is only maturation of capitalism that builds on honoring individual freedom and free markets. It is the “sport league model.” The teams of the National Basketball Association (NBA), or local young girls soccer league, get together and agree on the rules of play…the common good rules. The referees then make sure the highest priority at all times during the games is the rules, blowing a whistle anytime one of them is broken. So the priority is always the “common good rules of play.” The equivalent will be the competitors in each product market or industry reaching public agreement to, for instance, have the minimum wage be a livable wage wherever they do business. The financial auditors will simply add to their responsibilities the auditing of whether or not the companies are keeping the agreements.
This is a private sector solution. It is legal and it is already happening: recently all the major Silicon Valley companies and consumer products company signed a pledge to not stereotype women in commercials. This kind of behavior will simply be more formal, widespread, and fully in the private sector. Relative to one another, it will not cost the companies a penny: they will all change to pay a livable wage on the same day. The public will respect the companies that do this which will more strongly support their market positions. Since it will be fully public, the public will monitor to make sure that the owners and employees to not give priority to their mutual self-interest relative to all else. In other words, there will be a public conversation of what constitutes “giving priority to the common good” in each situation. This will be the new focus on discussion when relating with companies.
Why is this the inevitable next stage in the maturation of our business community? First, the multinational companies are the most powerful organizations on Earth. No one is going to tell them what to do. Therefore the change has to occur in the private sector, by free choice. Secondly, the highest priority on Wall Street and High Street now is the merger and acquisitions for companies to become number one or two in their product market or get out of it. A monopoly is illegal but a duopoly is legal…yet duopolies, triopolies, or quadopolies (as in the case of the 4 airlines that control more than 80% of all airline seats) are the goal of these mergers. As the public becomes aware of this current silent process, they will see it as monopoly behavior through another door. At the same time, CEOs like Paul Polman of Unilever will realize that the first to market with cooperation for the common good with competitors will do much to raise the respect for their brands in the marketplace.
Governments will not be able to impose anything like this. But the companies themselves will both eventually see the wisdom of it and at the same time be forced into it by the political left at the same time. There is not another option that has the same result, so it is inevitable.
I am one of the founders of the socially responsible business and investment movement from the 1970s, a founder of the Calvert Social Funds that currently have $12 billion under management. All in the investment community are now rushing to become socially responsible because the Millennials will inherit $40 trillion and they were all taught by grade school teachers that got them hooked on caring about the enviornment…and Bernie Sanders widened it into including social concerns as well. They want to make sure they manage that capital as their parents move it into their hands. So I can see the trend here: from demanding that businesses care more about their employees, communities, and the environment to giving priority to the common good openly and forthrightly to gain strong support from customers.
I am the person who tried to buy Ben & Jerry’s and eventually arranged its purchase by Unilever that included a legal contract that obliges them to forever to allow us to remain a social activist company. There are particular measuring sticks, the company remains an independent company, it has a board of directors with me on it, and we can sue Unilever if they do not keep the contract. Paul Polman and I have had conversations about what I am talking with you about. He will soon be ready to take a more aggressive step toward common good capitalism, of this I am certain.
Finally, let me tell you why this maturation of capitalism and much more in our now global society is inevitable: we are maturing from one level of understanding life to another where it is obvious that as members of a society, any society, we have all agreed to give priority to the common good of the society, now a global society. Anyone who is not going this has left the society and is now in competition with it. As we understand the foundations of this thinking, we will all mature into it, just as we all matured into walking from crawling and exercising individual freedom from only answering other people’s multiple choice questions. I will describe for you what those layers of maturity are and the next one into which the linguistic scientists now understand we will be maturing into.