Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business

By Kate Lowery, January 12, 2013  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Kate Lowery

John Mackey, along with co-author Raj Sisodia, business professor and co-founder of the Conscious Capitalism Institute, lays out a bold blueprint for capitalism in their fresh, new book: “Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business.”

In Conscious Capitalism, John and Raj explain how capitalism “is inherently good because it creates value, it is ethical because it is based on voluntary exchange, it is noble because it can elevate our existence, and it is heroic because it lifts people out of poverty and creates prosperity.”

Check out what John has to say about why they wrote this book:

Let Conscious Capitalism inspire you. Want to know more? Find lots of details in our pressroom and at academyforconsciousleadership.com or at consciouscapitalism.org.

 

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robert baker says ...
Can capitalism survive? Capitalism has been criticized most recently by the Occupy Wall Street gang and has frequently been condemned by socialists. It is most often defended by conservatives and libertarians. There is no universally accepted definition of capitalism. So, the Random House Webster’s College Dictionary will do for a start. “Capitalism is an economic system in which the investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations.” Consider life under the system that preceded capitalism - Feudalism. Those at the top, the Barons, had property and were allowed to gather wealth. They were obliged to serve on the royal council, pay rent and provide the King with Knights for military service. Knights had to protect the Baron and his family from attack. They were quite wealthy. Serfs had to provide the Knight with free labor, food and service whenever it was demanded. They had no rights. They were not allowed to leave the Manor and had to ask their Lord's permission before they could marry. They were very poor. Clearly, capitalism was an improvement. Capitalism became dominant in the Western world following the demise of Feudalism. Unfortunately, some capitalists became wealthy by unethical means, e.g., questionable stock-market operations, plundering the environment, and exploiting labor. They were uunchecked by law or conscience and needed to be properly regulated. Look at the slipshod maintenance of PG&E and Alaska Airlines and the predatory lending practices Wells Fargo. It is easy to see why we need agencies such as the Public Utilities Commission, the FAA, and The Federal Reserve – just to name a few. “We will bury you” - Nikita Khrushchev famously (and erroneously) predicted in 1963. Today, with the exception of a few holdouts in Hanoi, Havana, and Hollywood, it is Communism that has collapsed. “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money” - Margaret Thatcher. Some of the primary criticisms of socialism are distorted or absent price signals, reduced incentives, reduced prosperity, feasibility, and its social and political effects. Even in Sweden, socialism is beginning to lose some of its appeal. The 2006 elections, won by the non-Socialists, resulted in abolishment of two of the least popular taxes; the real estate and capital taxes. It seems that even the Swedes had finally had enough! Capitalism is doing well. Private individuals running businesses and corporations employ millions and their stocks and bonds provide growth and income to other millions. Many union pension funds and retired individuals hold mutual funds in IRA’s. By selling stocks and bonds, Wall Street enables businesses to expand more rapidly than they could with internal funds. As a result, they are able to hire more workers and buy more capital equipment sooner. This directly and indirectly contributes to higher employment. Yes, capitalism can survive! But, only if it proactively adopts change. Only the most naïve believe that self-policing works. Would anyone truly want to return to the days before the FDA and EPA existed? Federal and state regulatory agencies are needed to insure that individuals and corporations don’t abuse their power. Instead, we should consider “Constrained Capitalism”. How would private individuals and corporations behave under Constrained Capitalism? • They would act within the spirit of the law as well as the letter. As President Obama said in his November 2010 interview with Steve Croft, “some of the most damaging behavior on Wall Street, in some cases, some of the least ethical behavior on Wall Street, wasn't illegal.” These behaviors may not have been strictly illegal but cannot be defended on moral grounds. • They would get out into the communities where you have operations and listten to people. I don’t mean Atherton, Hillsborough, and Woodside. Corporate boards should do more to identify the needs of the communities where they operate. Then, develop incentives for their management so that they will better serve these communities. Management will do that which they have an incentive to do. • They would provide opportunities for people to move up the economic ladder. No one expects a guarantee, but everyone should be hired on merit and promoted based on results. • They would play by the same rules that middle class individuals play by. • They would make downsizing the last resort - not the first. Many workers require years to recover their former standard of living after a layoff. And, many older workers never do. They are forced into early retirement. • They would abandon the relentless pursuit of profit. Establish a rate of return on invested capital that is commensurate with the risk taken. Then adjust prices and wages to meet this ROR. Robert Baker is a 35 year resident of San Mateo county. He is a retired marketing manager from Sony.
01/16/2013 9:54:47 AM CST