Saturday, 15 April 2017

Thought 515: Business is Business

Let's be honest with ourselves. Business is about money-making, not about contributing to the common good. 

There is no intrinsic correlation between making money and contributing to the common good (despite wordy leaps in logic by esteemed thinkers such as Adam Smith, Friedrich Hayek and Ayn Rand). 

Sure, if people pay money for your product or service it could be argued that you are responding to a want or a need (although in practice, a lot of money-making seems to involve creating artificial wants and needs through advertising and widespread technological adoption). 

But this can be done in exploitation of certain conditions, such as in human trafficking where predators take advantage of the difficult life circumstances of others and deceive them or even by creating a monopoly on life essentials whereby you make others have to pay you to be able to live.

Thus in the movie Total Recall, air distribution on the planet Mars is privatised through deliberately keeping the atmosphere unbreathable and people have to pay corporate owners for the privilege of not dying on the spot. 

In addition, money-making may trump other considerations such as the sacrosanctness of the natural world and its finite resources, the right to exist of indigenous cultures, the natural law prohibitions against slavery and exploitation, the right of people to lead lives outside the monetary system, the right not to be harmed when this is precisely what mafia-style organisations threaten to do to people if they don't pay financial tribute and so on.

Money-making as such isn't a wrong but it is naïve to think it is always a moral endeavour. 

And capitalism being concerned with return on capital above all else, it is in fact in that system's nature to want to create monopolies and cartels over resource exploitation and allocation, so as to to maximise profit.

There is nothing intrinsically free-market about capitalism as such, which may well have a stronger interest in dismantling free markets, in order to make more money. 

The profit motive, pursued ethically, would of course be less problematic than the realities I have described above but when did the big and powerful ever get big and powerful through being moral?