In a competitive society ethics are an albatross, an impediment to competitiveness. Thus, there can be no ethics in business. In business, if one competitor engages in an unethical practice that gives them a competitive advantage then all competitors must engage in the same practice or be put at a disadvantage.

If one competitor doesn't go to the trouble and expense of properly disposing of their toxic waste products, for example, then all the competitors must shirk the same responsibility or their dutifulness will become a significant liability.

Likewise, if one competitor pays slave wages. All competitors must then follow suit or be rendered uncompetitive or competitive only with severe impediment. That's why Walmart destroys more jobs than it ever creates. When Walmart comes into a community Kroeger's has to leave, Walgreens, Jewel and Dominick's have to leave because they are unionized employers with union shops and can't compete with Walmart's low wage model. This is what communities starved for investment and who want Walmart to come in - like the African-American - in their desperation, fail to understand or appreciate.

Thus leaving matters of economics to the "free market" is leaving them to a lawless sociopathy where the strong are free to prey upon the weak. If there are to be any ethics in society they must be handed down by government in the form of laws and regulations.

The "magic of the marketplace" theory is, therefore, a patent sham, it merely allows the weak or less powerful to be consumed. If you point this out to an exponent of the theory they don't deny it but say, in the same breath they just finnished saying the magic of the marketplace assures everyone's well being without government intervention, that it is OK for the less powerful to be sacrificed because everyone's well being should not, after all, be assured and that that's for the sake of everyone's freedom (but not the freedom of the less powerful, I suppose). Actually, of course, it's not for everyone's freedom but for their own class privilege. It's only for that that the marketplace has any magic.

We, as a society, must control our economy democratically if we want the economy to serve society - or the people - rather than have the people be the servants - or the slaves - of the economy.


Robindell's picture
Robindell 6 years 9 weeks ago

On the syndicated radio program, Both Sides Now hosted by Mark Green, Ron Reagan represented the progressive or Democratic viewpoint, and a well-known Republican polster and pundit who is more moderate or reasonable than most, David Frum, represented the opposite side. One topic that Green brought up was that Wal-Mart took up a collection of food for its own employees. Reagan not surprisingly went off on Wal-Mart. Frum said that companies large and small alike face economic pressures today, but that acknoweged that this problem of low wages that people cannot live on is a terrible one for those who struggle with inadequate income. Interestingly, he seemed to suggest that government would eventually have to step in a bigger and better way than it has up until now to help those who cannot earn enough to survive without outside help. He said that in some foreign countries, there are some experimental programs underway to address wage inadequacy and excessive inequality. He brief mentioned some kind of income support program in a certain country. I don't recall which country it is, and he didn't give any details as the format does not allow for much discussion of anything. The host acts like the audience has ADD and cannot pay attention to one topic for more than a few minutes or so. But this suggest to me that this emphasis in our economic system and in our society in general stands in the way of greater financial security and stability and fairness for all of our citizens in the form of a guaranted income, a floor which which provide people with enough money to have decent housing, good, healthy food, health care, and transportation.

The obession with competitive sports in America, in education, in the mass media, and among the population, seems to be related to the economic ideology of getting ahead even if it is to the detriment of someone else. Conservatives believe, I am convinced, that life is a like a lottery, a contest, where there must be winners and losers, and this is carried out to extremes in far too many instances. The U.S. is not the only country where this is a problematic condition. Central America, South America, Asia, and Europe have similar issues, to varying degrees.

In the field of retail, there are too many companies who want to get into the grocery business. Everyone, even home improvement stores, have to sell food items. Some poor urban neighborhoods are said to be "food deserts," where more afflucent areas have too many places all selling food. People who work at these stores rely upon their jobs; many retail employees have been in the industry for years, even though studies have shown that retail has a high turnover rate, and many don't have a college degree or other qualifications. Wal-Mart has put countless "mom and pop" grocers, independent supermarkets, and other kinds of local stores such as hardware stores out-of-business in many communities or neighborhoods. Chicago is an example of a city where job creation has trended to hourly wage positions which don't offer adequate incomes. Illinois and Michigan have both lost many jobs. The average income in indiana is several thousand dollars below the national average, and many Indiana residents have little or now post-secondary education.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 4 years 24 weeks ago

What business owners like the Waltons don't pay in wages they must pay in taxes. If they refuse to do either, as they are now, then you have what's happening now, the pauperization of working people and the destruction of the middle class.

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