We hear it all the time – America runs on free market capitalism.
But what does that mean? Is it the same as garden variety capitalism? While we make an attempt to educate ourselves about the world we live in (because the truth is, most of us don’t understand the basic principles of our economy), it’s critical we make this distinction.
The short answer is “no.”
They share some important things in common – they’re both based in companies competing against each other for a space in the public’s loyalty and for wealth accumulation. Both systems are also based on the principle of supply and demand – when there is demand for a product or service, companies will arise to provide the supply.
The difference is a free market capitalist system only uses supply and demand as its guiding metric.
The U.S. is mostly a free capitalist market – at least, according to the 2020 Heritage Foundation’s ranking.
Since one of the hallmarks of free market capitalism is that there is little to no regulation of businesses (in terms of how their practices affect the environment, their opinions on social issues, how they spend their profits, etc.), the average citizen often feels impotent.
How can businesses that hurt the environment, fund (or receive funding from) hateful groups, or discriminate against the disenfranchised be hurt where it counts: their revenue?
Vote with your dollar.
Supporting Those You Believe In
There are a few reasons to be a conscientious participant in capitalism.
- To passively hurt the income of a big corporation through boycotts of their services. Although some evidence suggests boycotts threaten reputation more than revenue, that leads us to point number two…
- To pressure those companies to fall in love with their public. After all, if this is all supply and demand, and the public demands different practices, a company that wants to survive will adapt. Some companies, though, are too big to be influenced by the demands of a pocket of concerned citizens. This brings us to point number three…
- To lift up small, independently owned businesses and franchises who need your money more and will reinvest it in themselves or spend it empowering their communities and beneficial causes. Growing the size and power of these businesses makes them formidable forces for positive change, and amplifies their voices.
America has nearly 400 million citizens.
It’s easy to feel small and insignificant, like nothing that we do truly matters.
But right now… while our Black citizens are hurting and the country is ripped in two over how to handle the fact that a Black citizen’s interaction with the police is at least 2.5 times more likely to result in death, there’s an easy way to show your support.
Vote with your dollar.
Redirecting Funds to Black-Owned Businesses
If you want to show your solidarity, but don’t feel comfortable attending a peaceful protest or spreading information online, a good way to uplift 13% of our national community is to bolster their businesses.
Amazon reported $75 billion in the first quarter of 2020 – they don’t need your business.
But a family-run ethical business that was hit hard by the pandemic – and now the protests – might!
Check out this list for Black businesses to support ranging from beauty, to fitness, to food, to health, home, and spiritual wellness.
(Some of our favorites are DIVE IN WELL, a company dedicated to making spiritual and mental health care destigmatized and accessible to all, PUR HOME, which creates non-toxic cleaning supplies for the home, NATURADE, which started by trying to specifically target and prevent common areas of poor health in Black communities and ended up with a healthy supplement line for all, BEHRAN GRAINS, which provides gluten-free baking alternatives that are ethically sourced, THE BETA WAY, which itself focuses on conscious consumption by approaching mental and physical fitness in tandem, and NOSHABA APOTHECARY, which takes care to source plentiful resources and use holistic healing ingredients in their beauty products.)
But take your time!
Do your research.
You don’t have to do anything that doesn’t fall within your value system.
But if your heart is crying out desperately to show your brothers and sisters in this world that you love them, vote with your dollar.