How bad is big?

With Thanksgiving, then Black Friday, and then the ever-creepy sounding “Cyber Monday” approaching, I was pleasantly surprised by the emergence of Small Business Saturday.  According to the anti-corporate prophets, this is the day when the nation of consumerists repents of their soulless, transnational purchasing ways and supports the true believers — local and small.

It should be noted that I love small businesses.  I would genuinely like to support them more than I do.  Especially the beer ones.  I plan on finding a way to buy beer from a small, independent business that day.

My gluten-filled problem isn’t with the business itself, but with the idea that with greater size comes only evil.

The video above, which I hope you will take the time to watch, is about one of my favorite BIG businesses, Guinness.  The beer one.  The one that makes a delicious creamy stout that somehow has less calories than a pint of Miller Lite.  If that isn’t a blessing from above, I don’t know what is.

Guinness is a company that started small, but has since grown into a worldwide brand.  They started with a simple vision, to make a drink that was more nutritious and less intoxicating than gin in order to combat the widespread drunkenness in Ireland at the time.  Few could have imagined what only a few short centuries would bring.  Watch the above video to get a more in-depth story, or there are some great historical accounts through the Guinness website.

So now we come to the main question: How bad is big?  To go a bit further, how big do you get before you stop being a small business?  Lastly, why do size and ethics have to be seen as mutually exclusive?

What makes a business bad is not necessarily their size, but how their worldview shapes their practice.  A large beer company may have a product abused by its consumers for evil intent, and the company would not be overstepping its bounds to condemn such abuses.  Planned Parenthood does not have that luxury.

Support small businesses if you can, but don’t feel guilty if you later find yourself reaching for a multi-national pint of Guinness at the expense of a beer a hipster hasn’t even thought of brewing yet.  Cheers.

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