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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

IS BUSINESS INHERENTLY EVIL?

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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!

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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

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Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.