I've been reading a lot about creating and using sustainable businesses to bring about social change. Jason Saul's book Social Innovation, Inc.: 5 Strategies for Driving Business Growth Through Social Change has allowed my liberal arts brain to get a dose of economic business stimuli. Here's what I've learned so far...
-Businesses are more powerful (and wealthier) than government (hello, Apple).
-Businesses cannot merely be "philanthropic" as they continue on towards their goals. The social change we hope for must be the inherent goal of the business itself
(e.g. McDonalds cannot simply boast about how much they give to certain charities every year. Through changing their business goals and strategies they must seek to bring systemic change to problems like obesity and low-wage jobs).
-The most influential vote we have is not at the polls in November, it is our dollar and where we choose to spend it.
Because as a customer, citizen, and contributor to society you earn credit/influence in the form of little green slips of paper. And wherever you deposit those slips of green paper is where you are allocating your support for different companies. You say, "Target, I like the feeling I get when I go to your store and purchase your merchandise. Keep it up." Or, "Starbucks, I like the way you treat third world coffee farmers. Keep doing what you are doing."
Businesses of our economy want our money (our vote). It's our job to buy responsibly, carefully, and with integrity. Take note of two final things: the best way to empower the poor is to provide work so that they can have influence and a vote, and the government cheats in a way because through mandatory taxes they can bypass the need to make the customer happy.
Just some thoughts from a wannabe economist.