Pilant's Business Ethics

Business Ethics Blog

Pilant’s Business Ethics

Pilant’s Business Ethics

I am James Pilant, a teacher at a small community college. I have a Bachelors degree (double major) criminal justice and speech. After that I went and graduated law school. I have managed to pick several hundred hours of college credit, most of it in criminal justice and college teaching. I read fairly constantly and am fascinated by history, politics, philosophy and many other things. I was given the opportunity to teach business ethics a few years ago and have become fascinated by the subject.

What Do I Believe –

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 Misérable, “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

(I can be reached at southwerk@yahoo.com. I lecture and I am willing to comment publicly on my writings.)



  1. nilknarf1940

    where in Arkansas are you. i was born in Hot Springs and then lived in Mountain Home during WWII and then for a year in Fayetville for a year. i moved to Houston when i was 7 and have lived here ever since. But my heart has always been in Arkansas. also, as part of my work at Memorial Drive UMC i’m in charge of the Restorative Justice ministry. i’m particularly interested in legislative reform efforts in criminal justice. unfortunately, most of the people who are active in RJ in our area are not interested in changing the system, just working in the prisons or on re-entry issues and they can’t understand why we’ve got such a crappy criminal justice system in Texas. as the saying goes, “i give um books and giv um more books and all they do is tear off the covers and eat the pages.”

  2. I live in Rogers down toward Beaver Lake. I have a degree in Criminal Justice and 53 hours toward a doctorate in the same subject. I spent three and half years working with juvenile delinquents and I did an internship with U.S. Probation. I am also interested in reforming the criminal justice system and very frustrated with the responses I get. jp

  3. I blog on societal and business ethics issues. I would love to be listed in your blog and for you to carry my own blog. Perhaps you can check out my blog at http://www.ethicssage.com. You can also read an article in the NY Times Sunday Business Section in which I was quoted as an ethics expert. Here’s that link: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/24/jobs/24career.html. Thanks, Steve Mintz aka Ethics Sage

    • I looked at your blog and we disagree on many issues. We also agree quite a bit of the time. So, I have no problem with putting a link to your blog on my site. However, I still have a concern. Your comment mentions nothing about anything you’ve read in my blog or that you are actually writing or commenting to me. This makes your message appear to be a shotgun mailing to get your site a great number of links and build it web footprint. There are currently ten blogs that are listed on my blogroll. I give those slots to web sites that I believe carry a great deal of value in the fight for business ethics. I need to believe that you are talking to me, and have some interest in what I’m doing, before I can put you on my links. Now, this is not an onerous requirement. Read some of my stuff, comment intelligently and ask again. Or you can write to me, James Pilant, and make the same request. I just have to be in the picture somewhere. Okay?

  4. Know Thank You

    Thanks for your kind comment on my blog. I’m happy that ethics are a subject of both agreement and debate, in fact that ethics are still a point of consideration in consolidated and globalized business. We see far too many examples in which ethics may not have been considered, or at the very least were defined radically differently… and our consumer dollar then supports that different definition.

    To answer your question, I left Facebook some time ago due to the company’s security lapses and privacy invasions. It is a company whose practices I choose not to support.

    Thanks very much for helping to keep ethics on the minds of modern decision makers.

  5. I don’t know. Do you have some ideas? I am angry about the student loan debacle.
    James Pilant

  6. Bob Bowdon

    Hey James,

    I thought this should be on your radar, and that of anyone interested in business ethics:


    — Bob Bowdon

  7. Thanks! I’ll get something up.
    James Pilant

  8. We’re a new blog on Business Leadership and Ethics, funded by the McGowan Foundation. I thought you might like to see my latest blog entry titled “Do American Companies Owe U.S. Consumers Anything?” that appeared on our website today.


    • I’ll write about your blog tonight. Thanks for the e-mail. (I’m usually quicker on the draw, but last night was my wife and I’s much delayed Valentine Dinner.)
      James Pilant

  9. It’s high time people realised that ethics are crucial and there is no need to coerce people.

  10. Jake Naumer

    TY for your kind comments about the Former Foreclosureblues blog which was recently taken down by wordpress…

    pls contact me if u would like to chat about it sometime…thx

    • I would like to discuss what happened to you web site and coverage of the mortgage crisis. James Pilant

    • I am very interested in contacting you about what happened to your web site and about the continuing mortgage crisis. James Pilant

  11. Donald Rickman

    I STRONGLY suggest you LOOK at http://www.fairewinds.com WEB site and review ALL material posted by a NUCLEAR Engineer who has been fighting against the NRC and the Federal Government with regards to UNSAFE GE-BWR reactors in America before the 4/11/2011 EVENT in Japan. At lease Gundersen is writing it all down and getting it exposed to the general public who are aware of his WEB site. Also, I have been posting as much as I can FIND which is reliable data on this subject at my own Facebook account. And I am Don Rickman. Having worked in the Nuclear Industry from 1974-1984 with America’s LARGEST NUCLEAR A/E.
    Arnie Gundersen is telling it as it is, and not sugar coating anything!
    With the latest INPUT regarding “Radioactive Hot Particles” JAPAN is being allowed by the International community to contaminate MILLIONS of people WORLD WIDE, NOT 100’s. And Nations are ACTIVELY DOING NOTHING ABOUT IT. HOW CAN ANYONE EXPLAIN THIS LACK OF “TIMELY TRUTH? INCONVENIENT?

    • I subscribe to Fairewinds and I am a big fan of Gunderson. I’m glad you are too. I continue to blog about Fukushima even though many have lost interest. I’m not quitting the story until it is done. Best Wishes, James Pilant

    • Would you mind if I posted your comment as a blog post so more people will see it? I don’t edit it. I just put it up with an explanation of what post you are commenting on. James Pilant

  12. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point. You obviously know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your site when you could be giving us something informative to read?

  13. Hi James.
    Thanks again for visiting my AlterWorld Blog. My current writing project explores the current propensity to have ideology create fact instead of the other way around. It has fundamentally changed journalism and debate on issues.

    I have added your blog to my blogroll and would love to have discussions on these kinds of topics with you.



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