What a different society there would be if things were run on the basis of the common good of all.

It would mean people thinking always in terms of their neighbour and the community.

Business too could take the lead. Shops are there to serve the local community, not the other way around.

The principle of the common good came to mind when recently queueing up at a local supermarket.

There were three tills working, many others vacant. Self-service tills were in operation.

The queues grew.

When it was suggested a few more staff were needed, the response was the supermarket wanted to switch over to self-service as much as possible, so cutting staff.

The supermarkets do not pay people well.

On a more positive note, they (largely due to dedicated staff) kept people going throughout the pandemic.

Supermarkets also collect for foodbanks - it is a shame though that some staff are so badly paid they end up using the same foodbanks.

Supermarkets have also put incredible pressure on suppliers to cut costs. This has a knock-on effect down the supply chain, putting particular pressure on farmers.

The supermarkets are also responding to the climate crisis incredibly slowly.

Far more could be done in terms of renewable energy usage and generation by supermarkets and their property divisions.

More could also be done to phase out excess plastic and packaging use.

The unfortunate thing is that whatever good or bad practices the supermarkets pursue, the overriding priority is bottom line profit. Shareholders dividend pay-outs trump all.

The supermarkets are not alone. How much better for the community would it be if utilities like water, energy and mail were run for the good of all, rather than shareholders.

Businesses and services based on the common good would value workers and customers equally - all have to survive, have families to feed and support.

This is something of a cursory look at how things could be different based on the common good, rather than the present tyranny of bottom line profits rule all. But it is difficult not to think that a society run on common good principles would be a happier more fulfilled place.

  • Paul Donovan is a Redbridge Labour councillor for Wanstead village and blogger. See paulfdonovan.blogspot.com