An Historical Downpour is a new featurette of Rain. It won’t be common, but once in a while I will feature something I wrote on a different blog under a penname. I hope you enjoy.
Originally posted as “Buying back Goliath’s soul” at 12:15PM on July 5, 2004.
I have been called a number of things in my life – neo-hippie, tree hugger, communist… some I can’t (and won’t) list here. People like these terms applied to anyone who dares to think that the world doesn’t revolved around money. To anyone who thinks there might be a better way.
The strange part is that I am a pretty firm believer in the concept of capitalism. Few things motivate people better or faster than the prospect of making money. Money allows us to live life more comfortably, and that’s almost as powerful a motivator as starvation or survival.
If I believe in capitalism, how can I be called a communist?
It is true that a company can make it big by not caring about people or the environment. Companies have been doing this for ages. Look at Microsoft. Or Nike. Even Apple, though they are better than some. “But that’s capitalism at work!” some of you will scream. And yes, it is. And that’s cool. I just happen to believe there’s another way, an “ethical capitalism.”
It is possible for a company to be successful without exploiting its employees, its customers or the environment. I have no figures to support this, and it is possible that maybe a responsible company can’t be as successful as what I can only term an irresponsible one, but that’s a function of the definition of success.
To most companies, success means constant growth, per share earning increases quarter over quarter and increased market share. Penetration into new and untapped markets. Bigger bucks. No whammies. Small minded thinking for short term gains. But what if success is also the ability to pay employees a generous and fair salary, provide them with benefits and opportunities which encourage them to take pride in the company they work for and customers that aren’t just pleased with the product, but feel like they’ve had a part in creating it. What if success is finding a way to make environmentalism not only ideal, but profitable?
The world has to get off the constant increase bandwagon. Logic dictates that way is a dead end road. There’s only so much money, so much market, and so much karma. It’ll all go pear-shaped eventually, and then we’ll be defining success in terms of survival, not comfort.
The success of a company should not be judged only financially, but karmically as well. There are no shining examples to support the ethical capitalism model, but there are so many examples (some close to my heart) of great potential wasted and opportunities lost to the lure of the “quick buck” that it has to be possible.