It goes back way before Citizens United…

These organizations [joint stock companies] had raised hackles from the very beginning. Sir Edward Coke (1552-1634), for example, had complained that “they cannot commit treason, nor be outlawed or excommunicated, for they have no souls.” Two centuries later, the lord chancellor, Edward Thurlow (1731-1806), echoed his words: “Corporations have neither bodies to be punished, nor … Continue reading


A benefit corporation is a class of corporation required by law to create general benefit for society as well as for shareholders. Benefit corporations must create a material positive impact on society, and consider how their decisions affect their employees, community, and the environment. Moreover, they must publicly report on their social and environmental performances using established third-party standards. Benefit … Continue reading

Stakeholder Economics

Shareholder value theory: companies exist to make money for their shareholders. Milton Friedman, 1970: “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits.” In the opinion of Jack Welch, former head of GE, Strictly speaking, shareholder value is the dumbest idea in the world. Stakeholder value theory: companies exist for the benefit of their … Continue reading

Johnson & Johnson Credo

written by Robert Wood Johnson in 1943. While they may not always follow this credo, it’s a short piece with a lot of punch. We believe our first responsibility is to the doctors, nurses, and patients, to mothers and fathers and all others who use our products and services. In meeting their needs everything we … Continue reading

Decency Means More: Costco vs Walmart

notes on Cascio, Wayne F. 2006. “Decency Means more than ‘Always Low Prices’: A Comparison of Costco to Wal-Mart’s Sam’s Club.” Academy of Management Perspectives 20 (3). 26-37 Wal-Mart’s focus: lowest possible prices, always. Company’s core values seem to drive its exploitative and even illegal behavior. How do they get their low prices? “Low wages for … Continue reading

The Rise of the New Economy Movement

notes on Alperovitz, Gar. “The Rise of the New Economy Movement.” AlterNet. 20 May 2012. The New Economy movement: The broad goal is democratized ownership of the economy for the 99% in an ecologically sustainable and and participatory community-building fashion. A range of new economic models are being tried out in small scales– Evergreen Cooperative in … Continue reading

Off the Pedestal

notes on Speth, James Gustave. “Off the Pedestal: Creating a New Image of Economic Growth.”  Yale Environment 360. 31 May 2011. Economic growth is our favorite thing here in America. The “growth imperative” dominates US political and economic life. There are limits of growth, however. Herman Daly: “if neoclassical economists were true to their trade, they’d recognize … Continue reading

The End of Growth

notes on Daly, Herman. “The End of Growth.” The European Magazine. 05 September 2011. Daly went to the World Bank to work with economists who primarily disagreed with him — “it is of no use preaching to the choir.” At the World Bank, everyone had come from the same elite schools, the same teachers, believing the … Continue reading

America Beyond Capitalism: the Pluralist Commonwealth

notes on Alperovitz, Gar. “America Beyond Capitalism: The Pluralist Commonwealth.” [this was a slightly longer version of another essay, notes on which can be found here. I didn’t repeat myself here, so these two posts should be read in tandem] The most progressive social-democratic proposals based on European precedents are unlikely to be achieved in  more … Continue reading

America Beyond Capitalism: Emerging Context and Key Issues

notes on Alperovitz, Gar. 2006. “America Beyond Capitalism: Emerging Context and Key Issues.” The Good Society 15. (3): 51-56. Our current crisis is more than political — it’s systemic. Truly fundamental values — equality, liberty, meaningful democracy, ecological sustainability — are all increasingly being thwarted by real world practices. The American labor movement is in a state … Continue reading

Herman Daly

And if economics is a religion, Herman Daly is its arch-heretic, a member of the high priesthood turned renegade. From 1988 to 1994, Daly was the World Bank’s senior environmental economist, a lonely voice of dissent in an organization that frowns on unbelievers. During his six-year tenure, Daly, the economist-turned-ecovisionary whose works established ecological economics … Continue reading

Elinor Ostrom

Elinor Ostrom was the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2009 — the first woman to achieve the distinction — for her analysis of economic governance, especially the governance of common property like air, water and public spaces. Virtually all the world’s most urgent problems require collective action. Be it environmental protection, the … Continue reading

Dave Korten: A New Economy

New-Economy Movement

The idea that we need a “new economy”—that the entire economic system must be radically restructured if critical social and environmental goals are to be met—runs directly counter to the American creed that capitalism as we know it is the best, and only possible, option. Especially after the recent financial crisis, many new-economy organizations have … Continue reading

Costco CEO Jim Sinegal

CEO and President of US’s third-largest retailer. Reputation for low prices (very narrow profit margins) but also for taking care of employees. 86% of Costco employees get healthcare and benefits — even though half are only part-time. Avg wage: $19/hour. Costco has had no layoffs in the recession. “It’s really pretty simple. It’s good business. … Continue reading

Talking about Solidarity

Marcos Arruda, “”Solidarity Economy and the Rebirth of a Matristic Human Society” It is economic activity organized for safe and sustainable individual and collective self-development, which implies the shared satisfaction of needs and wants and the co-management of the houses people share in common – the home, the community, the district, the county, the ecosystem, … Continue reading

Solidarity Economy

See here for many many definitions. A Solidarity Economy is defined by: Solidarity, cooperation, and democracy as norms that all people and organizations have to follow if they are to be a part of the Solidarity Economy. The supremacy of labor over capital. Labor is the core of economic life and human development. It is … Continue reading

Triple Bottom Line

The idea of the “triple bottom line” (TBL or 3BL) goes back to 1994, when the phrase was coined by John Elkington. He argued that companies should we working toward three equally important bottom lines: profit, people, and planet (3P). This is a major component of the stakeholder value movement of the 21st century. TBL has become … Continue reading

Capitalism 3.0

notes on Barnes, Peter. Capitalism 3.0. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2006. Systemic problem of capitalist democracy: government puts the interests of private corporations before those of its citizens. Neither market nor state alone can be the full answer to the problems — both are flawed. Tragedy of the commons: people will always over-use a commons because … Continue reading

Monopoly Economics

The perennially popular board game Monopoly is a reasonable simulacrum of capitalism. At the beginning of the game, players move around a commons and try to privatize as much as they can. The player who privatizes the most invariably wins. But Monopoly has two features currently lacking in American capitalism: all players start with the same amount of … Continue reading