Are Businessmen Evil?

Jane Mayer’s article in the New Yorker about David Koch and his brother Charles and their massive funding of right wing political causes is an absolute must read. Regardless of political leaning, I think everyone should be disturbed by the ability of two incredibly wealthy men to so powerfully affect the political discourse in our society, and to do so anonymously.

But the article also made me think about how the Kochs and other businessmen are so determined to lobby government to support “free enterprise,” or at least to quash regulations that might hurt their business. The article discusses how the Kochs are using the same strategy on global warming – fund enough junk science to convince people that there is no scientific consensus – which the tobacco companies used so effectively to stall regulation of nicotine.

The issue I’m contemplating is not one of maximizing profits, but a broader moral issue. What makes a CEO who knows his product is harmful fight so hard against regulation? Does he take his fiduciary duty to maximize shareholder profits that seriously? Is he so focused on his own compensation that he doesn’t care what health problems he causes? The Kochs are nutjob John Birchers, so I expect them to screw over the world, but what about all the other CEOs? What about those who are fighting against environmental regulations even though they know that the global warming science is solid? Or Wall Street CEOs fighting against regulations when they know that their companies caused the financial meltdown? Or coal mining CEOs fighting safety regulation after an explosion in their mine killed 29 workers?

Look, I’m not anti-business. To the contrary, I am solidly pro-business. I’ve worked at companies, I’ve started companies, I consult to companies. My whole life is built on business. I understand the profit motive. What I don’t understand is the willingness to screw over the public in order to make more money. These CEOs would never in a million years think it was OK to stab a man and steal his wallet, but they have no problem poisoning him with industrial waste in order to save money. When do these people have enough? Where is their sense of human decency?


One response to “Are Businessmen Evil?

  1. Our economy is war based. Our Congress is corrupt, as the books “Throw Them All Out” and “Capitol Punishment” so clearly lays out.

    You say that no congressional representative (or president) would go out and kill a man to steal his wallet, but that is exactly what a war-based economy does. If we end war, (and our government is in possession of the latest research that indicates that group meditation -a free activity – is the key to ending war) the global economy collapses. So war becomes eternal. That means that they steal from us to kill and destroy. They do not advertise the known alternative to providing for national security without need for a military industrial complex funded by corrupt banking institutions.

    We are lied to about our economic system. It is called capitalism though it is not. We are told we stand for free trade, but it is anything but free or fair. We are lied to about our history and are never told that the Supreme Court ASSUMED the power of judicial review and used that unconstitutional power to throw out the Constitution (Mc Culloch v. Maryland) in order to establish the national bank that is the source of all of our problems today.

    When I first read George Orwell’s “1984” where Winston Smith was shot in the head, I was shocked. Now I wish that I could be shot in the head. I just know too much.

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