Pilant's Business Ethics

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What Do I Stand For?

What do I stand for?

First and foremost, I believe that a human being can be a businessman and still maintain that precious humanity. That would be my first principle.

I hope it is obvious that flowing from this basic belief is the second, that is, there are many, many reasons to do things and money is not the only one or the most important one.

Third, I am a firm advocate of leadership. Change does not happen naturally or inevitably, and many, many times in history, we have gone backwards. A successful effort toward human values is often destroyed or turned back by the forces of greed and evil. When someone plays that song from Les Mis√©rable, “Do you hear the people sing?,” I always disgusted. No, they’re not. They aren’t reaching for anything. It’s like one of those empty disney films where one more time they tell us to be all we can be but not really. The people like everybody throughout history get tied up and focused on the mundane, the useless, the copying and pretending that passes for life. If people change, for there to be social change, someone has to lead; someone has to point out that change is possible.

We do not live in an era of leadership.

Fourth, I believe in capitalism. I like the idea of people developing and selling goods. I like the idea of competition. But history is clear, it is a lot easier, extremely easier to make money by theft, by lies, by monopoly, by adulterating goods and by bribing or gaining favors from the government. This is so obvious to me, so clear a lesson of history repeated over and over again ad nauseum, that when someone says all we have to do is unleash the power of the market place by getting rid of law and regulation I still find myself shocked.

I have lived during the age of Milton Friedman. I believe that the free market and capitalism are tools to be used in building a healthy society not ends in themselves and certainly not a principle to held with religious fervor. I do not believe in the utopia of communism. I do not believe in a utopia based on race, or education, or religion. And I absolutely reject the idea that all decisions will be made in the best way possible economically if we only let it function without interference. The idea that you can build an ideal society on the basis of greed because it will channel decision making into the best choices to make the most capital or money or value which will produce the best outcomes is no more practical than pure libertarianism where if we have no laws everyone will behave.

I am told that what I believe is called limited capitalism. That’s probably about right. I want to buy eggs at a reasonable or good price but I don’t want to risk death for the low price. I am willing to suffer an additional cost for the government to regulate eggs. (I know I went a little long on number four but it’s important to explain that particular issue.)

Fifth, I believe in personal freedom and privacy. I think those two items are linked. I am very opposed to the surveillance society, and the lack of secrecy and security for our internet communications. I believe an e-mail should be just as legally protected as a letter sent in the mail.

Sixth, I am a patriot. I believe America is a special place because of its people and its history. Because of that, I believe this vibrant, energetic and amazing people deserve government policies to protect jobs and insure economic security. I reject, fundamentally and utterly, the charge that Americans are lazy, over paid and unwilling to accept responsibility. There is constant refrain in the media about lazy, overweight, non-saving, etc. etc, Americans. Any examination of these issues will lead to the discovery that they are far more complex than any simple moral failing.

Those are the ideas I want to put in my columns. If you think I do please tell me and if you think I don’t I need to know that even more.

James Pilant

 

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1 Comment

  1. Andrew

    I don’t know if you are aware of the Chick-Fil-A food chains, but I think you would like the owner of those chains. His name is Truett Cathy and I think he does a good job of living the ideals that you stand for. I think his business model for the Chick-Fil-A chains really does prove that you can be a businessman and still put people and the community first.

    While I agree with your third point overall, I want to nitpick for a second. I disagree that change doesn’t happen naturally or inevitably. Entire populations are always subjected to influential forces, either by nature herself or other social forces that produce change. Change does not always need to be forward to be best. I think the evolution of the peppered moth in England over the past 200 years shows that evolution need not be linear to always be best. Applying that to social evolution, Sometimes you do need to step back to a prior state of being in order to better see which way to go forward.

    Other than that, I think you and I agree on almost everything! Good blog!

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