I just read an Alternet interview with Douglas Massey, a Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University. He’s written what sounds like an engaging book called Return of the "L" Word: A Liberal Vision for the New Century .
The premise is that a liberal economic policy should be one in which "markets work in the public interest."
"The time has come," he writes, "for liberals to tell the public that markets are not ‘free,’ but human-created institutions that citizens have a right to supervise and mange for their own benefit. Liberals need to abandon their lingering hostility toward market mechanisms, embrace them, and substitute a new rhetoric of ‘democratic markets’ for the false metaphor of the ‘free market.’"
It got me thinking about soap.
“ALL-ONE!” the bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap proclaims. My best girl Ann introduced me to them years ago. The liquid and bar soaps are organic and are packaged in 100% post-consumer recycled PET bottled or 10% hempflax/ 90% post-consumer recycled paper. The come in luscious flavors like almond, lavender, and eucalyptus, and you can find them in practically any drug store or health food store.
I love the ingredients and the scents, and am a total sucker for the packaging and the story behind it. Colorful bottles of green and purple caution against drinking soap, tell us that the only cosmetics we need are enough sleep and Dr. Bronner’s soap, and remind us that “Absolute cleanliness is Godliness!”
According to the Bronner website, Dr. Bronner was a third generation master soap-maker from an orthodox Jewish family in Heilbron, Germany. He was heir to the family’s soap factory and business, but rebelled against his dad and immigrated to the United States in the late 1920′s. The Nazis nationalized soap factories in 1938 and Bronner’s parents and most of his family died in the Holocaust. "That tragedy shaped Dr. Bronner’s vision and philosophy that we’re "All-One!. . . Dr. Bronner was also grounded in a powerful ecological consciousness, and the soaps were an extension of this simple, natural and 100% environment-friendly.”
Dr. B didn’t just turn out good soap, he created a company that still reflects goodness.
* The salary of highest paid employees is capped at five times that of the lowest paid employee. (According to a report by the research and advocacy group United for a Fair Economy, the ratio of average CEO pay–now $11.8 million–to worker pay–now $27,460–spiked up from 301-to-1 in 2003 to 431-to-1 in 2004.)
* Employees have a great profit-sharing plan and a no-deductible health insurance plan.
(What I would give for no deductible!)
* Over the last 5 years, the company’s charitable donations to social and environmental causes have approximated its total after-tax income.
* The company doesn’t test its products on animals and uses organic oils in all of its soaps.
I haven’t read The L Word yet, but I have read Dr. Bronner’s soap bottles.
I suspect they share the same sentiments.
From the soap:
1. CONSTRUCTIVE CAPITALISM IS WHERE YOU SHARE THE PROFIT WITH THE WORKERS AND THE EARTH FROM WHICH YOU MADE IT!
2. WE ARE ALL BROTHERS AND SISTERS AND WE SHOULD TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER AND SPACESHIP EARTH!
Wisdom comes in unexpected places.
What fun when you find it in the shower.
(Singing in the shower, aka the soundtrack for this post, Matthew Sweet’s Girlfriend)