Pilant's Business Ethics

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Tag: Milton Friedman (Page 2 of 2)

Support Growing for Verizon Strikers (via The North Carolina Letter Carrier Activist)

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers

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It’s the work climate in this country. Work hard and produce significant profit and there will be no gratitude only demands for more cuts. The disconnect between a hard working middle class and the treatment they receive is stark. Over the last forty years, the economy has been re-designed to convey benefits from the middle class to the upper class particularly the financial industry.

Many in the middle class still don’t get it. Their intrinsic worthiness is pointless. Worthiness is worthless and intangible. The middle class is a source of money that is gotten through fees, tax increases, and off shoring. They can be squeezed and squeezed. It’s never going to end.

So, the Verizon workers made the company hundreds of millions of dollars, maybe billions, they need to be squeezed. Squeezing be it justified by Ayn Rand, or squeezing be it justified by Milton Friedman, is here to stay. It’s a civic religion among the monied elites.

James Pilant

Support Growing for Verizon Strikers By James Parks (This is a crosspost from blog.aflcio.org) The strike by some 45,000 Verizon workers, members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the Electrical Workers (IBEW), continues as workers across the country offer support to the strikers, whose struggle reflects the situation for millions of workers. Rather than reward the hard work of Verizon employees who have provided the quality service that earned the company more than … Read More

via The North Carolina Letter Carrier Activist

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William Buckley on Ayn Rand & Atlas Shrugged (via MetrozalElectricity)

William Buckley on Ayn Rand & Atlas Shrugged (via MetrozalElectricity)

Here are Buckley’s thoughts on Ayn Rand. I am not a fan of either but I found his impressions to be interesting.

James Pilant

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Andrew comments on my earlier post – Why I do not believe in business ethics? (via Abqur)

(Andrew comments on my earlier post – Why I do not believe in business ethics?)

From Andrew –

“There is no religion and no moral philosophy with Milton Friedman’s dicta that corporations exist only to maximize profit anymore than we exist to maximize our bank account or our stock portfolio”

Except that a corporation is not a person. It is an organization designed and built around the sole idea of delivering a product or service to make a profit. Its business. If its not competitve, then it will die. How socially responsible is it for a company to allow itself to go under and risk the livlihoods of its employees just for the sake of doing whats “socially responsible”? Self interest creates jobs. Entrepreneurs, in the search for greater profits, will build bigger manufacturing plants, bigger offices, bigger everything. That creates jobs. How is that inconsistant with being “socially responsible”?

I dont understand the bipolar nature of this country sometimes. People expect for a corporation to act morally in the same way you’d expect a person to act morally, yet the very same people freak out when corporations are given rights the same as a person would (i.e. campaign contributions).

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Why I do not believe in busiess ethics? (via Abqur)

Why I do not believe in busiess ethics? (via Abqur)

img167bNo. I do not agree.

We can expect companies to do other than exist to make profit.

There is no religion and no moral philosophy with Milton Friedman’s dicta that corporations exist only to maximize profit anymore than we exist to maximize our bank account or our stock portfolio.

We can expect companies to act morally, to act against monetary self interest and, yes, to give up competitiveness to do what is right.

I do believe in business ethics.

James Pilant

The issue of business ethics has been a much discussed issue in the business world, and the term “socially responsable” has been very much a prize that many firms seek to achieve under the expectation that it will increase sales, though most cases showed that they do not necessarily lead to this result. In my opinion its pointless and it should not be a company’s goal to be socially responsible. Its not that I want companies to run rampant and di … Read More

via Abqur

From around the web –

From the web site, Business Ethics Blog.


It’s a common refrain. Don’t blame the business schools for all the
bad stuff happening on Wall Street. It’s not the b-schools’ fault,
because after all, ethics can’t be taught. The first bit there is

reasonable enough: the recent financial crisis is the result of a
complicated convergence of factors, apparently including bad decisions
by quite a number of individuals, and some poorly-structured
institutions. But the latter part, implying the futility of ethics
instruction at business schools, is simply wrong-headed.

From the web site, 501C Web.


Ethics can’t be managed.   Actually, ethics is always
“managed” — but, too often, indirectly. For example, the behavior of the
organization’s founder or current leader is a strong moral influence,
or directive if you will, on behavior or employees in the workplace.
Strategic priorities (profit maximization, expanding marketshare,
cutting costs, etc.) can be very strong influences on morality. Laws,
regulations and rules directly influence behaviors to be more ethical,
usually in a manner that improves the general good and/or minimizes harm
to the community. Some are still skeptical about business ethics,
believing you can’t manage values in an organization. Donaldson and
Davis (Management Decision, V28, N6) note that management, after all, is
a value system. Skeptics might consider the tremendous influence of
several “codes of ethics,” such as the “10 Commandments” in Christian
religions or the U.S. Constitution. Codes can be very powerful in
smaller “organizations” as well.

From the web site,  Food Ethics. (This one is just delicious – you ought to give it a read.)


It’s been more than two years since the Food Blog Code of Ethics made its debut on the Internet. Our little manifesto–a written record of two people standing up for a basic set of principles in food blogging–was read by thousands in just hours and millions by the end of our first month of posting it.

We were some of the first food bloggers to suggest that we hold ourselves to a code of “journalistic” ethics. Our call for responsible online publishing hit a nerve. While many praised our declaration of a code, others openly reviled us for our lengthy manifesto that encouraged applying traditional journalism’s ethical principles to the wily world of online food writing.  We were called fascists, dictators, and gutsy visionaries.

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Ethics and Education: the beginning (via Just a Word)

This is a good article and I always enjoy essays where the author struggles with difficult moral conundrums.

I teach college classes and I lean heavily on opinion writing because it’s difficult for students to speak in anything but their own voice. I have observed a great deal of teaching and while it varies in quality, I doubt if the principal blame lies there.

I believe the problem is the bleed of toxic philosophy from Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand. Isn’t buying a term paper an economic choice (Friedman) that maximizes shareholder worth while following the “rules of the game?” If productivity is the only measure of morality(Rand), shouldn’t our modern John Gaults enhance their productivity? Aren’t the unproductive sheep, the dead weight of society, the helpless proles, the creators of these rules designed to limit the productivity of the great minds, the only real producers of value in our society?

If rules are designed to create a level field and you don’t believe in a level playing field, you are not going to play by the rules. I am sure that many of these students are unaware of the origins of their philosophy about rules and choices but that does not make the connection any less real. Obviously there have always been rule-breakers. But have we ever lived in a time where the public ethos is so accepting of this kind of behavior?

I tell you it is always a weird experience to meet the prototypical John Gault, an individual who has discovered their own specialness and that humanity, kindness, compassion and brotherhood are limits placed on their success by the common herd. Or the weirdness of the Friedman follower who believes if only we gave people free choice about seat belts, air bags, food, drugs and inoculations, our lives would be enhanced.

You see, in their world, it is perfectly obvious that brotherhood is the enemy, common rules a bacteria weakening the human specie, and compassion, a tragedy, binding people to their own lack of success.

What is the rule on buying term papers but an annoyance to the superman, the new man?

Well, I await patiently for the John Gaults to ascend the mountain and leave the rest of begging, pleading our our knees, crawling on our insignificant bellies, that if only these paragons of production, the new successful breed of humanity, would only return to make society work and, in return, we would swear to no longer limit them by taxes and rules from their proper and obvious role in society. (Read Atlas Shrugged.)

I’m sure it fills the longing in my students to be special, kings and queens under the flesh. Humanity is hard. Being productive and resilient is difficult. Sharing and caring is a burden. But those are the things that make us significant, not a Nietzschean philosophy of destiny and specialness.

There are other philosophies in our nation: virtue ethics, several hundred variations of Christianity, citizenship, and the doctrines of honor, responsibility and chivalry.

When these are in place, we will solve many of our problems with obeying the rules.

James Pilant

Ethics and Education: the beginning I call this “the beginning” because I have a feeling that this will prompt several posts on the subject, but I am not promising that yet. This actually coincides well with my post on Friday regarding a University’s attempt to eliminate cheating by allowing collaboration and internet use on exams. This post however, follows a slightly different vein. I was reading an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education this morning called The Shadow Sch … Read More

via Just a Word

“Bag Ladies” On Social Security?

Bag Lady

From the Chicago Sun-Times by Terry Savage

Fear of being a “bag lady” is the secret worry of every older woman. I’ve written and talked about this before, and the subject always gets a nod or a grimace of recognition.

No woman wants to be a burden on her children – or grow old alone, worry about money.

With our President and the Congress and the beltway commentators all determined to cut Social Security, we can expect the situation to get worse, probably much worse as what’s left of the safety net is dismantled.

Read a little more –

*Women are likely to have a longer period of chronic disability and are more likely to need care in a long-term facility or from a paid caregiver. This is compounded by the fact that women are more likely to be alone in old age and less likely to have a family caregiver.

*Fifty-five percent of female retirees and 71 percent of female pre-retirees are concerned that they might not have enough money to pay for health care costs in retirement, compared to 42 percent of male retirees and 63 percent of male pre-retirees.

People, real people, not financial funds, not mortgage foreclosures companies, are supposed be looked after by our government. We are not supposed to be tossing grannies on to the fire of maximized profits. But we are.

Making every American regardless of circumstances rely totally on their own resources for virtually every contingency seems to be the philosophy of government. But a bank can navigate a depression better than a human being and a bank is unlikely to get a degenerative disease that bankrupts a family and destroys every vestige of financial security.

We should be looking out for each other not making sure of the highest possible return on investments.

James Pilant6

Philip Brookes Adds To His Friedman Comments!

A few days ago, I reblogged a post from the web site, Get Aktiv. Since then, one of my favorite bloggers, Chris MacDonald, added a thought to which I replied and Mr. Brookes decided to significantly add to his argument. Below is a sentence from his argument, one that I particularly liked. It would, of course, be best if you read the entire post. I’ve written the occasional argument for a position. They take considerable time. So, honor his efforts and go to his site.

There is no legal reason (as a general rule – there may be certain exceptions in some states or countries around the world) that a company must extract every last cent of profit out of every situation. Instead, it seems to me just good ethics and business sense to operate transparently with your stakeholders so that you all share a common goal for the organisation, a la The Body Shop. The Directors of this company are clearly acting in good faith with their shareholders and customers, and within the bounds of the law, to sell environmentally and socially responsible products. Although it may be possible to sell other beauty products and make a higher profit, this is not the exclusive responsibility of the directors.

I went and had a look at Mr. Brookes’ web presence and it is significant. He is a consultant, has an article on blogging and is a proud family man, (provided that there is only one Philip Brookes in Australia). I’m going to continue to read his blog. I think you should too.

James Pilant

Milton Friedman got corporate Social Responsibility wrong (via Get Aktiv)

I suppose there is a certain satisfaction from hearing one’s own views confirmed. I plead guilty. This is delicious. This is from the web site, Get Aktiv.

This is the key sentence from the essay.

Extrapolated into another scenario, Friedman would no doubt argue that a corporate executive would be duty-bound to offshore their operations to low-cost developing countries wherever it maximised profits, and this should only be done at the very lowest possible labour rates allowed by law so as to maximise corporate profits, even if the developing country has no effective wage protection and it is exploitative of the workers, provided that doesn’t bring financial harm to the company through loss of reputation – indeed, to pay a more ‘humane’ or ‘reasonable’ wage to staff than the absolute minimum that could have been negotiated is a reflection of an executive not performing his duties to the company.

On my flight back from Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne yesterday, I took the opportunity afforded by flying AirAsiaX (sans onboard entertainment) to read another sizeable chunk of “Creative Capitalism: A Conversation with Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and other Economic Leaders”. I guess I’m a bit slow in getting to the literature of leading global economists but I can now say I’ve read Milton Friedman’s “The Social Responsibility of Business”, an essay f … Read More

via Get Aktiv

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