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Friday, November 7, 2008

Consumer Responsibility

Just yesterday I was listening to to talk show hosts arguing. What's funny is that they refused to understand each other and acknowledge each different point of view whether right or wrong. You don't always have to agree with someone but you can understand where they are coming from if they make a good argument.

The topic was capitalism and free markets. The disagreement happened only because one of them saw a gray area and does not see everything as absolute when it comes to theories. What they both failed to recognize was the consumers responsibilities in a free market society.

It's obvious that we all have information at our fingertips in this new age. We would love to have all corporations to be responsible and have their factories go green and pay their employees well. The problem is that corporations have a fiduciary duty to their shareholders and first and foremost is to make a profit. The other problem is that business is very competitive and a corporation that is environmentally and employee friendly is going to have higher costs and therefore have to price their product or service higher than the competition. Most consumers choose by price. Even my own friends will ask me for a discount because the other guy is offering a discount and who cares about experience or trust but they look at price first. Competition drives corporations to find cheaper (less expensive) labor and other ways to lower the cost of doing business. Yes I know that they haven't figured out that their executives are overpaid but that's another issue for another blog.

This is where we, the consumer, need to be responsible. If we reward corporations, small businesses, and restaurants for being socially conscious they will see a higher demand and more profit for their product or service. Competitors will have to do the same in order to survive. Magazines publish lists of family friendly and employee friendly businesses and I know there are sites out there that publish names of companies that are socially responsible. We as consumer need to show our support by patronizing these businesses.

I welcome everyone to post any websites that may be helpful to all consumers. In the next few weeks I will also publish a list.

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