Common Good Competitors
The most significant action members can take is to meet with their competitors and reach voluntary agreements that give priority to the common good. This is legal! It already exists! Through existing organizations in the private sector, such as the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission, competitors voluntarily agree, to quote their materials, “on thousands of voluntary consensus safety standards.”
At the national and global level, the continuous mergers of companies in product markets will make this easier: each year fewer companies will need to reach these agreements. Of course, they always want a couple of appropriate government officials present at these meetings to assure the public the sole focus was on the reaching of agreements that give priority to the common good, not collusion for mutual self-interests. However, many local competitors can also do it.
We are all aware of the duopolization of some of our product markets at the retail level: CVS-Walgreens, Lowe’s-Home Depot, MasterCard-Visa, Pepsi-Coca Cola, and UPS-FedEx. Thus the two of them, along with their other competitors, could meet to reach these agreements. At the local level, for instance, all the restaurants in town could meet and voluntarily reach common good agreements.
One of the agreements could be that the minimum wage will be the livable wage in each productive area. Thus, relative to one another, it will not cost them a penny: they can all raise their prices to accommodate it at the same time. They can still continue competing on price only now it will be the result of other factors: efficiencies, commitment of workforce, and marketing. However a floor of giving priority to the common good in terms of this aspect of labor relations will have been agreed upon and voluntarily established.
So the public will trust this private sector process, two or more public officials without vote need to be present so afterwards they can report that the agreements were for the common good and not collusion. The latter is not legal but the former is legal.
Secondly, along with providing an annual financial audit the auditors will also report on the agreements reached and the company’s progress at meeting them, or the degree to which they have not been met and their plans and timeline for eventually meeting them. Like a financial audit it will be done by a credible third party that afterwards signs a letter attesting that all being presented is factual. It will report on the agreements reached and the company’s progress at meeting them, or the degree to which they have not been met and their plans and timeline for eventually meeting them. This also allows the public to participate in the conversations of what is best for the common good for our time and how to integrate it into their common good agreements. The Civil Rights’, Women’s, Environment, and Gay Marriage Rights’ Movements clearly reveal that what we agree is best for the common good is continuously maturing.
At some point the public will become aware of the widespread duopolization of product markets. They will then feel trapped. They will want the companies to continue producing the products we need. However monopoly behavior through the backdoor of duopolization will not be acceptable. When it searches for a solution that builds on rather than negates individual freedom and free markets it will eventually discover there is only one solution that does it: voluntary agreements for the common good among competitors as the new cooperative context within which their competition continues as their second priority.
There is no other possibility that builds on individual freedom and free markets, what is fundamental in capitalism.
At the same time it is best for all. The duopoly monopolies survive without being attacked by government or others. Nothing else inside them needs to change unless, that is, there is an agreement to change it. The conflict between owners and workers can end and be replaced with them meeting in each company and reaching agreements that give priority to the common good. Then all share their company proposals with each other and eventually reach common agreements. The society benefits because the overt priority of the companies is the common good that will include responsible management of the environment and relationships with local and global communities. They may even reach agreement to donate a certain percentage of their annual net profits to reduce poverty.
Eventually the public will become aware of the duopolization of product markets and the cooperation between them for their mutual self-interest, mainly accomplished by matching each other’s price increases. Eventually common good capitalism will be chosen as the solution. It is the only one that both builds on individual freedom and free markets and honors the most fundamental fact about our human societies: we have all agreed to give priority to the common good in all we do at all times.