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The Though Kitchen - Dedicated to Stirring the Pot

Can Capitalism Be Compassionate And Successful?

Posted by admin | September 19th, 2006 | Filed under Compassionate Capitalism, Positive Change


Last week’s announcement by Google that its philanthropic effort will be structured as a for-profit entity, enabling it to not only give away money but invest in start-up companies, form partnerships with venture capitalists and lobby with political ends in mind, prompted John Tierney to write an editorial about compassionate capitalism in Saturday’s New York Times. Tierney points out that for the emerging generation of entrepreneurs, capitalism and philanthropy are not seen as mutually exclusive. He points to companies like The Body Shop, Starbucks, Whole Foods, and Ben and Jerry’s who have demonstrated that it is possible to “do well by doing good.â€?

I add to that list Good Magazine, who I wrote about last week. There’s no doubt they’re committed to producing a quality product. Inaugural issue writers included James Surowiecki (who writes the Financial Page for the New Yorker), and Jeffrey Sachs (economist, author of The End of Poverty and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University). But they’re also into “doing well by doing good.â€? They’ve decided to give their money to support great causes rather then the post office. Huh? When you pay $20 to subscribe to Good Magazine 100 percent of the subscription fee goes to support one of twelve smart, cool, creative organizations. Not only that, you get to choose which organization you want to support. They’re doing this as an alternative to a traditional direct mail strategy that traditionalists argue is the only way to build a robust subscriber base. They’re also doing it because it’s smart. It’s a more effective way to reach their audience, generate credible buzz and further their mission. If you want to participate directly in compassionate capitalism, subscribe to Good Magazine.

One Response to “Can Capitalism Be Compassionate And Successful?”

  • September 27, 2006 at 9:30 pm | douglas says

    One of my favorite stories is of a young Martin Luther King Jr. and his father discussing Georgia’s racist governor Eugene Talmadge. King Sr. later recalled his son saying, “Talmadge has a Phi Beta Kappa key, can you believe that? What did he use all that precious knowledge for? To accomplish what?” King believed that the true goal of education was intelligence plus character. Like Socrates, he believed that education has a moral content, that what we are trying to ultimately learn is what the Good Life is.

    The 20th century has seen intelligence harnessed for medicine and for weaponry, for feeding millions and for killing millions too. Now in the 21st century, the question we have to individually ask ourselves is still the same: how do we live the Good Life? Within that question, we have to decide what to accomplish with our knowledge, and where to spend our passion and talent. Entreprenuerial creativity and energy, to accomplish what? Spent thoughtlessly, they will not achieve the environmentally conscious and humane economy our global society urgently needs.

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