Do businesses have ethical obligations beyond what the law and shareholders require? | The CQ Researcher Blog
“In a free-enterprise, private-property system,” Friedman wrote, “a corporate executive is an employee of the owners of a business. He has direct responsibility to his employers. That responsibility is to conduct the business in accordance with their desires, which generally will be to make as much money as possible while conforming to the basic rules of society, both those embodied in law and those embodied in ethical custom.”
In this view, going beyond those basic requirements — for instance, as Friedman wrote, spending more to reduce pollution than “the amount that is in the best interests of the corporation or that is required by law” — amounts to improperly spending money that belongs to the shareholders.
The U.S. concept of free-market capitalism is not, of course, universally accepted. Karl Marx, the intellectual father of communism, saw profit as the result of capitalist exploitation of workers. Socialist and communist systems assert that some or all of business profits rightfully belong to society.
But among those who embrace capitalism, many say ethical obligations go well beyond simply making a profit.
A survey of business executives from around the world by consulting firm McKinsey & Co. found that only a minority wholeheartedly embraced Friedman’s view. Sixteen percent of respondents agreed that business should “focus solely on providing the highest possible returns to investors while obeying all laws and regulations.” But 84 percent said the role of large corporations should be to “generate high returns to investors but balance [that] with contributions to the broader public good.” [Footnote 14]
Does business believe in the absolute pursuit of profit to the exclusion of all other goals? A study by McKinsey and Co. indicates otherwise. This is an unexpected result based on my perceptions but, of course, I live in the Southern United States where free market worship is one very short step below the more traditional forms of worship.
I hope the study is correct. We need business leaders willing to be valuable members of our communities. Without their participation, the ties that bind us together as a people, a civilization, weaken.
From around the web.
From the web site, Ben Brown M.D.
The Deceptive Income of Physicians.
Spending 40,000 hours of one’s young adult life learning how to be a
physician is an admirable sacrifice, especially considering one must
spend more money than one earns to work those 40,000 hours. The long
hours don’t necessarily end after residency. In 2007, physicians from
over 20 specialties were asked how many hours per week they generally
work – the average was 59.6 hours per week.1 So even after
physicians finish their 40,000 hours of training they continue to work
one-and-a-half times as much most Americans for the rest of their
career. In short, physicians work two-full time jobs while in training
and one-and-a-half full time jobs when they are finished. They have to
work nights, evenings, weekends, holidays and take call. For most
physicians, there is no such thing as overtime or holiday pay.
From the web site, More New Nonsense.
Over on Budgets are Sexy, J posted some thoughts about an article that says the tipping point for happiness, salary-wise, averages out to $161,000 per year, across a range of countries surveyed.
I had to think about that some. I am reasonably happy at my salary now, although I have to admit that an extra $10k or so would smooth out all the rough edges and give me a bit more of a comfort level. I think if I were making that much more, I’d be able to really push money into savings and retirement in a way that I’m not doing right now.
From the web site, Amanda Johns Vaden.
This is absolutely mind blowing! 72 Million Americans making 25k or
less. That’s why now it is more important than ever to realize that you
can make a difference, you can change your family tree as Dave Ramsey would say. Sometimes it just takes a little motivation, sometimes it takes coaching or a one day seminar that can change your life! Whatever it is for you get out there and do it! Change your family tree permanently!