Pay Closer Attention to How You Spend Your Money

Alexander Hamilton on the ten dollar bill
      As we all know, the new tax bill passed in 2017 benefits corporations the most. (Randians would applaud this as something corporations are entitled to.) I know I’m not the only one disturbed by this. I think one of the most troubling legacies of this will be that globalization by default will benefit. (And no I’m not claiming all globalization is evil so don’t write me any nasty emails.) Globalization is a complex topic which I don’t intend to fully address here, but many Christians and I (as well as many non-Christians) believe the forces of globalization can have far reaching negative impact on other cultures. Christian scholar Miriam Adeney contributing to the highly regarded Perspectives on the World Christian Movement wisely observed that globalization tends to make everything including values into commodities and to cheapen human relationships. She also noted that globalization tends to homogenize the unique characteristics of ethnicity and culture that God designed to be unique. She and many other critics of globalization have also expressed deep concern that globalization can be corrosive and destructive to life-giving communities as well as the traditional arts, crafts, and trades that provide dignified, sustainable livelihoods. Not only that, globalization is distasteful in my view. As someone who has traveled a lot, I found it annoying to find “Any Mall USA” wherever I went—the same chain restaurants selling crappy food and the same chain stores selling crappy consumer items. To me they screamed, “Let’s make the whole world just like the American consumer!” And I know there’s many of you who believe that corporations already have too much money and power. The good news is that we as consumers can help affect change by examining and changing our buying habits. Some practical things we can do:

—Support local (individual or family-owned) businesses as much as possible. Support local farmers as much as possible.

—Support Fair Trade. (Many don’t know this, but Fair Trade began as a grass roots movement by Christians who were seeking dignified work and fair income for people in impoverished countries and communities.)

—Support transparent, socially responsible businesses and corporations whenever possible. If transparency doesn’t exist, start to demand it. Pay closer attention to the business culture and practices of the corporations that you are supporting and/or investing in.

—Shop at charity thrift stores. Many can’t afford or don’t have access to Fair Trade items so shopping at charity thrift stores can be a decent alternative. At least you’re recycling and the money is going to charity (instead of a corporation.) Charity thrift stores support many needs in society. These include but are not limited to: veterans and people with disabilities, drug/alcohol rehabilitation, jobs/job training for people in the margins of society, assistance for people in poverty, shelters for battered women and abused children, animal shelters. And not only will you support a need in society, you’ll save money!!!

While some of this can be difficult and a sacrifice of time and money, any bit of effort is worth it. I personally would prefer to have my hard-earned income go to a family or charity instead of corporate expansion and/or a corporate culture of entitlement (e.g. outrageous CEO salaries, outrageous executive bonuses, a corporate resort vacation, a corporate jet, etc.) And obviously, no one in our present society/economy can do this for 100% of their purchases and investments, but any percentage is better than nothing. If everyone made a bit of effort in some of their purchases and investments, it would have impact. Since corporations are ultimately about the bottom line and dependent on the consumer, if enough consumers change, they will have to change.

There’s probably other good suggestions than the ones listed…

(On a side note, management consultant and executive coaching pioneer Julian Moody and I discuss some challenges of the corporate model, among other things, in the topic “Some Thoughts on Longevity and Sustainability.” We also discuss some aspects of his career and profession in the topic “What in the World Are You?” These topics are part of our project Dialogues with Julian Moody: On Life, Business, Sustainability, and Other Things.)