problem: corporations behave badly
Google has within their formation documents a guiding principle to "not be evil". But now, just a few years after they formed, many people would argue that Google has been evil lately. Witness the corrupting power of big money on everyone.
How do we use the power of capitalism to solve most of the problems we face?
How do we incent corporations to take full responsibility for their employees, their communities, their waste streams, and all the economic externalities they've been ignoring?
Solution: Promote responsible corporations
B-corps, "Benefits Corporations" were started a few years ago in an effort to force corporations to essentially "not be evil" regardless of how much money they gathered. B-corps add a sentence to their formation documents that is just a little more specific than "not be evil" - to be in business to earn a profit but to also benefit their people, benefit the community they are based in, and not damage the environment and the planet. Essentially, B-Corps are as concerned about helping their local communities as they are about earning profits. When the rubber hits the road, and profits decline, B-Corps don't lay-off their employees. When profits could be increased by moving their manufacturing to Asia, B-Corps accept the lower profits and keep all their people employed and their local economies thriving. When choosing between a manufacturing process which would result in lots of waste but would increase profits, or a less profitable but more sustainable manufacturing process, guess what B-Corps do?
B-Corps can go through a certification process which ensures they're not just talking the talk but walking it too. The highest certification rating is 200, which implies that a B-Corp is entirely sustainable in both it's supply lines, it's waste streams, and it's delivered products or services.
B-Corps are what every corporation should be. Imagine a world with nothing but corporations that ensured their supply, waste and product streams were completely sustainable - no "externalities" passed off to you and me.
Imagine what a paper company would look like as a 200 rated B-Corp. The hundreds of tons of wood chips arriving at their plant every day would be from certified sustainable forests (or other less woody pulp products?). The trucks delivering those tons of materials would also be certified as the most efficient vehicles possible. The pulp creation process would result in waste products that could be collected, reused, recycled or repurposed, not dumped into the local river to kill all marine life, or pumped into the atmosphere for everyone within twenty miles to have to suffer through the stench of their manufacturing process. Why wouldn't we want an odorless and completely sustainable paper mill that cares for it's people and it's community?
I propose we provide incentive for ALL corporations to be as responsible as B-Corps. Perhaps via a different corporate mechanism and with a different certification process. But I propose that any corporation that can certify they are 100% sustainable in every way - no leaking externalities - should pay no federal income taxes. Zero corporate taxes. Ratings lower than 100% sustainable would pay increasing levels of taxes. Ratings of zero, would pay considerably higher corporate taxes than they pay today - no loopholes.
Taxes are a dis-incentive to actions we determine are detrimental to our society, our economy, and the long-term survival of our civilization. So let's use the elimination of taxes to incent corporations to take full responsibility for their people, their communities, and the sustainability of their supply, waste and product streams.
Imagine what the shareholders of Exxon/Mobil might demand in order to increase their profits by eliminating all corporate taxes. Perhaps Exxon/Mobil would determine that switching to an algae-based oil production method - 100% sustainable and carbon-neutral - would be more profitable given the increased taxes on their continued business-as-usual. Perhaps by simply promoting B-Corps and other sustainable business models via tax policies, the most evil corporations would be incented to do the right thing for ALL of us, not just Wall Street.