The Golden Rule of Business

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A protest in Utah against Wal-Mart

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Have you ever read an article where you think the author was reading your mind because it said all of the things you have been thinking?

This happened to me lately in, of all places, the Harvard Business Review blog. The title of the article was "We are all Enron now", and it was about how our economy is run for the benefit of large corporations and no one seems to give a damn or think we can do anything about it but if we DON'T do something about it we are all going to hell in a handbasket.

Unemployment is up NOT because of illegal immigration but because of the millions and millions of jobs that have been outsourced to India and China so corporate executives and investors can buy another yacht and winter in Nice.

We have budget deficits not because union workers are getting pensions and a decent wage but because companies on Wall Street and incorporated in Delaware and small islands in the Caribbean for tax shelters aren't paying taxes on billions of dollars in income.

We all know this and yet it is often said we can't do anything about it. I disagree.
It starts with us. Spirit Lake Consulting has never outsourced and neither has my new company, The Julia Group. My partners and I decided we have so many times what the average person in this country makes it was unethical for us to move work off-shore and lay off our workers so we could get richer. We pay a living wage because we want to enable our employees to have good lives. We allow telecommuting and flexible hours because if we can't trust our employees, we shouldn't have hired them in the first place.

We buy from local businesses whenever they offer a service or product, because we're a small business and we like living in healthy communities where lots of people own small businesses and have a commitment. I don't shop at Wal-Mart or Sam's Club because I'd rather spend the money at the stores on Main Street (literally - it's a street five blocks from my office). Yes, this probably means we pay more for some things. I don't have a 22-room house in Malibu. I don't own a Porsche. I don't even fly first-class most of the time. BUT .... I have an exceedingly wonderful life and I just don't understand why I would accept higher unemployment, more poverty, poorer health in my country so I could have an extra $100,000 a year.

If all of us made small changes - buy goods and services from local companies, support businesses you value, don't lay off your employees and hire people who are paid less to work under worse conditions - it would make a big difference. Why would you do this? Because you'd want people to do it for you.
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