I received a email asking about a book called "Moral Capitalism: Reconciling Private Interest with the Public Good". Catchy title, but there is a warning light on my radical right wing sycophant mind numbed robot panel. So lets investigate a little further. The author is Stephen Young of the Caux Round Table. The former aim to promote moral capitalism everywhere. I read the principles, and I don't see much difference between them and the typical boilerplate that is shoved into every large business's annual report. I mean what company does not say "We will support peace, security, diversity and social integration". Its almost required in todays p.c. world.
Actually supporting peace and security is a interesting point. I would contend that the Boeing Corporation supports peace and security by developing new weapons systems and supplying them to the U.S. military. Of course my liberal socialist friends can start screaming at this point. And what the hell is diversity and social integration? These same pointy heads are enamored with the Japanese business model and glean from it many useful ideas. But that is a huge contradiction when it comes to diversity. And the Nippon model of social integration is not what I would call "freedom for the people". Anyhow, lets get back to the real fun concerning 'moral capitalism'.
I looked at some of the user reviews on this book (amazon) and a excerpt from one review is the seminal thought that irritated me enough to start writing. This is choice:
"A book of tremendous importance. Communism committed suicide, and Capitalism needed the rescue this read can provide."
Capitalism needs to be rescued? Rescued from the cancer of socialism maybe. But even that does not seem to be a problem. Especially when the most successful countries in the world are the capitalist free markets. Now rampant overconsumption might be a social ill, but I don't think it will hurt capitalism in the long run. What I want to discuss however, is this moral implication. Who says capitalism is immoral? Thats the implication in the book title. That is the perception presented to us from the liberal socialist mainstream journalist. Now we have had some fantastic examples of immoral behavior recently in the largest corporations. Enron's collapse, the Tyco duo, Worldcom and a few others. However, even with this surge, I would contend that the majority of these large corporations do not have immoral leaders. Additionally, the largest employer in the U.S. is small business, and success in small business is extremely difficult without trying to maintain positive ethical behavior. When was the last time the manager at your local supermarket recieved an indictment?
Now a strange aspect of this is that the marketplace seems to allow for some obvious unethical behavior. Take car sales. Clearly anyone with a ounce of cognition can see through the scam that is new car sales, but it seems to persist. I would contend however, that in the majority of the marketplace, unethical and immoral behavior is quickly adjusted for. That is what keeps most business leaders in line. And this normalcy is not in any way exciting in terms of news cycles.
Another odd aspect is that the rarefied pinnacle of business does contain some very scurrilous characters. We have the railroad tycoons, Rockefellers, Kennedys and such who all have some very questionable ethics in their history. And in our day we have a few as well. One of my favorite is Soros who sucked the cream off a whole country to make his billions. Apparently legal, yet inherently immoral. And less evil, but on the same scale is the empire Gates built based on crushing the little guy. But my point is this, the perception is one of greed and corruption, the reality is far more benign. Not that we shouldn't actively prosecute crooks and adjust rules and regulations to adapt to a changing marketplaces. We should be vigorous. More fundamentaly we should be vigorous in our opposition to socialist journalism.
In conclusion, it seems important to discriminate between the entertainment spectacle that is the fall of some powerful scumbags, and the persistent portrayal of capitalism as corrupt and morally bankrupt. And a book on keeping your business healthy and moral is fine. But why not name it "Capitalism: Moral Actions Mean Success" or something like that? And where are the sane voices exposing the stupidity of socialism? You will not find them among mainstream journalists. And when journalists are asked if they are socialists, they duck and hide. Why? Why not just say what you are and try to influence people honestly? Oh, I forgot, one of the hidden tenants of socialism is fear.