Monday, July 10, 2017
It's hard to be a decent capitalist
This is an article that claims that Whole Foods' recent economic woes signal that its brand of "conscious capitalism" (capitalism that tries to be easy on the environment and on workers) is not viable. I don't know if the author is using airtight logic, but I do think that it is hard for companies to maintain certain basic values (fair pay, environmental stewardship, favoring local business) if they aren't obligated to by laws, regulations, and pressure from workers and consumers. I linked a while ago to an entrepreneur that made a similar point--"good actor" companies end up losing out to "bad actors", because the latter cut costs by doing wrong, and even get subsidized by the good guys' taxes. In particular, it appears from the first article that Whole Foods' management was ardently opposed to organized labor, and to government regulations. So I don't see how Whole Foods could ever do right by labor and the planet, if its only "consciousness" was just an idiosyncracy of its ownership, and unenforceable by any outside law.