January 31, 2007


Caption: Big Jim Fuzzy Rooster wasn't sustainable...a possum got him. R.I.P.

El Cabrero has run across a few of what you might call vulgar Marxists in his day.

Those are people who attribute every action by governments to the dictates of the ruling class of corporate magnates.

(Admittedly, sometimes that explanation works pretty well...)

But while the Bush regime continues tacking to the hard right, some major corporations are moving significantly in a different direction. Not so much left as forward.

An interesting discussion of how some corporations are moving in a more socially and environmentally responsible direction can be found in "Beyond the Green Corporation," which appeared in the Jan. 29 Business Week.

It's worth reading and I won't try to summarize, but a significant number of major corporations are looking at environmental impact and sustainability, labor practices, global health, and poverty reduction. Some do it better than others. Some do it the easy way (i.e. voluntarily) while others need a little...help.

(One could cynically attribute this to the desire for good PR, but El Cabrero believes that all human motivations are inherently ambiguous, particularly his own.)

Here's the strategic thing to think about: progressive people spend a whole lot of time trying to influence government policy at various levels. As well they should. But given the enormous power wielded by corporations, people can and do have a huge impact by influencing their actions and behavior.

Some corporations are pretty harmless to start with. Some adopt better policies and procedures spontaneously. Sometimes this can happen with sweet reason, dialogue, and discussion. That's the easy way.

Sometimes, particularly in cases of major irresponsibility, labor disputes or promoting workers rights, it takes a coordinated corporate campaign. That's the hard way.

But at times it can be worth worth doing.

The easy way if at all possible. And, if absolutely necessary, the hard way.

MINIMUM WAGE UPDATE. The U.S. Senate voted 87-10 Tuesday to end debate on the minimum wage bill. A final vote is expected this week. The Senate version includes $8.3 billion in business tax breaks, while the House wants a clean bill. If it passes the Senate, it will go to conference, which should be interesting.

It's still not too late to call your Senator using the American Friends Service Committee's toll free number, which will be working until the increase passes. That number is 1-800-459-1887.

Calls are especially needed from states with senators who have not been supportive of a clean increase. The "ask" is that they pass the increase without further delays or amendments.


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