Sunday, November 13, 2005

Whole Foods Market Blog

John Mackey has a Blog : he's the CEO of Whole Foods Market, one of my all-time favorite stores and a wise stock pick I made several years ago that netted me 5x return on investment.

His first post is a debate with Milton Friedman and TJ Rogers about corporate responsibility. I have one question for John Mackey: Your profit margin is an objective, quantifiable way to measure how well you serve your investors, but how do you know what's in the best interest of your community? Say you donate a bunch of money to turn a rundown low-income housing complex into a beautiful new park. Is that good for the community? What if results in a bunch of people no longer having a place to live? Is that good for the community? What if the only people who are displaced are crack dealers?

That to me is the biggest hole in the corporate responsibility argument. What's truly good for the community is almost always good for a corporation in that community.

Here's a test of whether Mackey is truly a believer: give away your money anonymously. If it's so good for your community, it shouldn't matter that you get the credit. If anything, the recognition you gain is cheapening your intent. So stop telling everyone how responsible you are, and do it anonymously.

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