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A business-friendly government that couldn't run a hotdog stand

Adjustable rage



Business morality

July 2002 —

The corruption that is burning down the houses of some of America's largest corporations ought to show that unrestrained capitalism is not good even for investors. Even investors, to whom the corporations owe the best financial results possible, are not served by lack of governmental oversight.

Naturally, "governmental oversight" is a red flag to the bull of capitalist ideology—as "moral relativism" turns the eyes of any good Bible-thumper screwed-up and angry. But, sweethearts and sunshines, these are some of the realities that we all must accept if we are to be reasonable people. Or even if we just want to stop being such assholes. It's time for a little more finesse in our views of the world, before we make a bollocks of the whole planet. (Or, at least, while we're doing so — that way it will be more fun anyhow, and not so dreadful and stupid.)

A business will not behave morally nor properly unless it has to. The purpose of a business is to make money. That's not wrong.

What's my point? Business needs to be restrained from doing harm. Business cannot be made moral; it cannot be made to do what's right. But it can and must be kept from doing harm. Or at least, too much harm.

Businesses must be made to treat employees with a certain minimum of dignity. That's the purpose of labor laws (and unions, whatever those are these days.) Businesses must be made to treat investors to a minimum of disclosure, so that at the least an individual can educate oneself enough to beware the risks of buying a part of the company. And, of course, businesses must be made to pay a minimum of respect to the integrity of the resources that it is depleting or polluting.

America is a democracy. America is leading the industrialized world, and has an opportunity to—well, to lead. The opinion of the American people is deeply significant for the future of the Earth. Dramatic, is that? Well, so maybe it is. But it's true.

July 2002, Kilkenny Ireland.


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