Saturday, October 29, 2011

Wall Street, Corporate CEO's will never get it.

I found this bizarre point of view in the conservative rag of choice:
Wall Street Journals, John Bussey: Let's stipulate that the demonstrators have a fuzzy agenda. It's a smorgasbord of gripes ranging from income inequality to poor housing to executive pay … But what about one of the group's chief beefs: that business is falling short of its social responsibility, including creating jobs at home? 

The following is either something your inner moral and ethical value system will reject or find warm and fuzzily cruel:
Milton Friedman, the Nobel laureate economist, blasted the very idea of corporate social responsibility four decades ago, calling it a "fundamentally subversive doctrine." Speaking for many capitalists then and now, he said, "there is one and only one social responsibility of business—to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game."

Companies shouldn't spend profits on unrelated job creation or social causes. Pronouncements about corporate social responsibility, he added, are the indulgence of "pontificating executives" who are "incredibly shortsighted and muddleheaded in matters that are outside their businesses." And that indulgence can lead to inefficient markets.

That’s right, corporate do-gooders are “pontificating executives” and “shortsighted and muddleheaded,” not the greedy selfish. By the way, that indulgence in the past worked well for communities and the companies that supported them. Inefficiencies? Bull. Friedman’s failed theory (Great Recession), has some corporate executives devising a better idea:
What then to make of Howard Schultz, the chief executive of Starbucks, who in a letter earlier this month to fellow business leaders asked them to help "get Americans back to work and our economy growing again." He described Starbucks's own growth and hiring plans and announced a $5 million donation by the Starbucks Foundation to a group that helps finance local businesses. He's calling the program "Create Jobs for USA.” Schultz elbowed aside Mr. Friedman's triumph of profit: "Companies that hold on to the old-school, singular view of limiting their responsibilities to making a profit will not only discover it is a shallow goal but an unsustainable one," the post on the Harvard Business Review website read. "Values increasingly drive consumer and employee loyalties. Money and talent will follow those companies whose values are compatible."

That’s why conservatives don’t get it, and never will. That’s why Friedman is quoted today. But Schultz isn’t a lone:
A group of CEOs and executives from large companies, including Exxon, Cisco and McDonald's, echo Mr. Schultz's view … John Mackey, co-chief executive of Whole Foods, wrote: "From an investor's perspective, the purpose of the business is to maximize profits. But that's not the purpose for other stakeholders—for customers, employees, suppliers and the community. Each of those groups will define the purpose of the business in terms of its own needs and desires, and each perspective is valid and legitimate."

Makes sense, doesn’t it? Except to….
William Frezza, a Boston-based venture capitalist and fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute: “Businesses give back to society every day by pleasing their customers and employing their employees. There's nothing business owes other than selling the best product at the best price."

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