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IS BUSINESS INHERENTLY EVIL?

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 20, 2012

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)

To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, click HERE.

If you listen to the “Occupy” movement, they would have you believe American business is greedy, corrupt, and inherently evil. The president is also sending subliminal signals that business isn’t to be trusted and does not pay its “fair share.” No wonder the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is at odds with the administration.

Wanting to know just how bad America was, I looked up our rating as published by Transparency International, a non-governmental organization that monitors and publicizes corporate and political corruption in international development. In its 2011 annual “Corruption Perceptions Index,” the United States was listed 24th out of 183 countries in terms of clean records, behind such countries as:

New Zealand – #1
Canada – #10
Germany/Japan – #14 (tied)
United Kingdom – #16

For a country that is supposed to be inherently evil, I don’t think we scored badly. Maybe business is not really as evil as we thought. Perhaps it is nothing more than the rhetoric of an election year where one side is pushing a new social agenda and business happens to be in its way.

I’ll admit I’ve met quite a few shady characters in my time, particularly in the I.T. industry, but I am not prepared to categorically declare business evil. Quite contrary, it has done some great things and given us a high standard of living. Following WWII, American business propelled the world’s economy. It is only in the last few years we have slowed to a snail’s pace, but that is another story. If anything, I’ve seen more corruption in government than in business, yet the country is not screaming for the heads of our officials. I wonder why. Government can hardly be called a model of efficiency and people tend to see it more as a overbearing bureaucracy where politicians are given special treatment. I have yet to meet anyone who sincerely trusts it.

Business people generally agree, honesty and morality makes dollars and sense; it’s just plain good business, but they also understand the pressure resulting from such things as competition, economics and snafus. The temptation to bend under such pressure can be overwhelming. It takes a moral person to do what is right. Yes, there are those who are weak and lack conviction, but there are many more people in business who are trying to make their companies successful through ethical means.

So, is business inherently evil? Hardly. As I said, I have met a few charlatans along the way, but many more visionaries and strong people who are concerned about the well-being of their employees and shareholders. True, we live in a society that promotes individualism over teamwork, thereby creating a competitive environment, and; true, greed does exist in our culture which leads to self-centeredness and power-hungry politics, but I hardly believe business holds a monopoly over such things.

Rather, such attacks are aimed at undermining the fundamental concept of capitalism; to make people believe it is a flawed system which, of course, it is not, and should be replaced by socialism thereby redistributing the wealth of the country. Next time you hear someone maligning American business, consider the source: do they believe in “the land of opportunity” or “the land of entitlement”? Their perspective will dictate their political agenda. To know what side of the fence you sit on, consider the following listing which I found on the Internet:

If a Capitalist doesn’t like guns, he doesn’t buy one.
If a Socialist doesn’t like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.

If a Capitalist is a vegetarian, he doesn’t eat meat.
If a Socialist is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.

If a Capitalist is homosexual, he quietly leads his life.
If a Socialist is homosexual, he demands legislated respect.

If a Capitalist is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation.
A Socialist wonders who is going to take care of him.

If a Capitalist doesn’t like a talk show host, he switches channels.
Socialists demand that those they don’t like be shut down.

If a Capitalist is a non-believer, he doesn’t go to church.
A Socialist non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced.

If a Capitalist decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it.
A Socialist demands that the rest of us pay for his.

For more information on capitalism, see my past column, “In Defense of Capitalism.”

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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5 Responses to “IS BUSINESS INHERENTLY EVIL?”

  1. I enjoyed the list that you (re) posted; it might be glib, but it gets the point across. State control is the ultimate answer in the Socialist spectrum, while individual responsibility is the ultimate answer in the Capitalist spectrum.

    Like

  2. Jenn said

    I guess that would make me a capitalist then. I do NOT trust the government. I do trust many businesses–as they have always provided in one capacity or another (through business to business sales or through employment) the bread and butter that feeds my family. In other words– I have no problems making my own way- and I surely don’t trust the government to do it for me!

    Cheers, Jenn.

    Like

  3. Tim Bryce said

    A D.S. of Jamestown, New York wrote…

    “I liked your show today about the difference between a capitalist and a socialist. It was clear, coherent and pertinent. I have listened to hundreds of your shows by now being from up in Chautauqua County, New York (i.e., WJTN/John Siggins, in fact I think we even talked one day when you called in to his guest host John’s show a year or so ago). What the difference I think was, was your ‘bite’. Your words seemed unusually ‘hungry’. And I personally think we need hungry words. A lot of people out there are not eating well. And need ’em.

    The other reason why I am writing this, is because I heard an interview on an Hawaii radio station an hour or so ago (Hugh Hewitt/KHNR). They were discussing religion, and used your quote on the difference between a capitalist and socialist non-believer, but didn’t credit you. So just to let you know, a lot more people are out there listening than we think.

    As in “Keep the Faith” back at you. P.S., There’s a war going on out here.”

    An R.L. of Tampa, Florida wrote…

    “Another great piece! I hope you have many listeners/followers!

    You said: ‘Next time you hear someone maligning American business, consider the source: do they believe in “the land of opportunity” or “the land of entitlement”?’

    We see polls all the time, but never the numbers inside the polls. I’d like to have a better understanding of who these folks are who want to transform America from opportunity to entitlement. I would like to see hard demographic data depicting the segments of our citizenry that makes up “the land of entitlement”, which (as we know) is a huge piece of the Democratic voting bloc. Just who are these people who are ignoring our heritage and founding principles? That is what I (and many other patriots) would like to know. Thank you for your patriotism and commitment to help our nation!”

    A W.B. of Arlington, Texas wrote…

    “The inherent issue for the American public is recognizing the emergence of ‘socialism’ in our society, government, and economy and knowing how to respond. Far too many do not recognize it and are easily twisted into the belief that our current situation is a function of the private sector when indeed it lies greatly at the feet of an ever-growing socialist-dominated, liberal government attitude which attempts to position itself at the center of our universe and become the all-knowing provider for the American people…all in the name of buying votes. Good write, Tim. Thanks for sharing.”

    An S.G. of Illinois wrote…

    “While you can fairly claim that most businesses are honest, I think the OWS movement is talking about Goldman Sachs and BOA type businesses with some hedge fund types thrown in along with rating agencies. You would be hard pressed to find anyone outside those businesses who believes them honest. Your list of capitalist vs. socialist is cute but nonsense.”

    An M.B. of Clearwater, Florida wrote…

    “As a social worker, I never ran into unethical bosses, coworkers or job situations. When I moved to the area, I could not find a job in my field, and had to use my typing skills to work in the business world. I mostly worked as an administrative assistant, back when that was different than a secretary (I had 2 secretaries of my own), my own office, etc. My experience was that ‘business ethics’ is an oxymoron. I quit several jobs because of it, after being told to do immoral things, sometimes with only enough to live on for two weeks, but I do not compromise my ethics. The next job would be inevitably be just as bad. The bosses were actively immoral and most coworkers amoral and non-thinking. I worked in both medical and real estate offices. Medicine is not nearly as corrupt as Real Estate, but still shockingly bad. Real estate sales were not too bad, but real estate development was the absolute worst. I actually had one boss tell me I was by far the best assistnat he’d ever had and had the ability to be a Vice President if ‘you would just check those ridiculously high ethical standards of yours at the door’. This was a guy who went to church every Sunday. He would say ‘but this is business’ as if that was an excuse to screw people. I guess he thought God was off duty from 8-5, Monday through Friday. I decided, to paraphrase an old American Indian saying, that it was a good day to get fired, looked him in the eye and said ‘Greg, I work for another boss who is a whole lot higher up than you are’. I hit a nerve, and he slunk off to his office instead of firing me, but I did get fired later on for using the company insurance because I had to have surgery on both knees. They fired me while I was laying in bed recovering, helpless to go out and find another job. One knee never healed right, because I had to disobey doctor’s orders, wrap it in an Ace bandage and drive to go to interviews, so I could pay my rent. My boss even admitted the company President had ordered him to fire me because ‘our insurance is coming up for renewal, and she has used it, so if she’s still on the payroll our premiums will go up too much’.

    I could go on for quite awhile with my experiences, like the potential boss with the Murphy bed that came out of the wall in his office to ‘audition’ potential female employees, and so on and so on. I feel the stress from being out of my element in non-profit social services, where decent people abound, contributed to weakening my immunity and my getting this damn disease that ruined my life.

    You have been incredibly lucky to have had such good experiences in business. Human nature is not socialistic at our present stage of development, so I agree that system will not work, but there has to be some kind of regulation, or the sociopaths will run rampant, and from what I saw, they are already running much of business (and everything else, esp. the banks). Just my two cents, Have a good day.”

    An H.S. of Las Vegas, Nevada wrote…

    “Spot on! There is evil in every endeavor. Most businesses simply try to provide a product or service for a profit so they can pay their employees and buy products and services themselves. Love your list!”

    A J.S. of Skidway Lake, Michigan wrote…

    “Well done, Tim. Capitalism is based on competition, innovation and hard work. Occupiers want a shortcut to wealth without responsibility. Students who borrow to finance their education sign a contract to repay that money with interest. Instead of occupying, they should be applying for work. The USA did lead the pack in post WWII production, but these ‘evil’ capitalistic businesses were generous and made mistakes. My dad worked as a tool & die maker in the 50s. Quite often, small groups of Japanese businessmen came through the plant on tours, taking photos of the tools, the process, and the machines. They learned to build the machines, produce the product, improve the process and pay employees far less. That is one of the ways America lost the lead; not by evil, but by generosity.”

    A G.A. of Dunedin, Florida wrote…

    “A very good article. I have wondered since the begining of the OWS movement, why they weren’t ODC?”

    Like

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