the role of business in adding value to society

I've been doing a lot of linking rather than thinking recently, but that will change. But my friend Kim has a long post up whose main point deserves wider airing.

I suggest that a retreat from the values of true conservatism is a fundamental reason that the U.S. economy is in dire straits. Instead of doing business honestly for the purpose of mutual gain, businessmen have become unethical and dishonest swindlers, out to steal from customers and investors alike. Leveraging workforce, debt, sales and production in dishonest ways in order to drive up stock prices is disgusting behavior reflective neither of a true conservative nor a socialist view. Traditional conservatives see no shame in giving value for value, but rather see that the long term financial growth of a company, and therefore value to investors, is served by giving good value to customers, making wise workforce decisions not harmful to workers, and by acting in the best interests of the communities supporting the business. Those practices reflect the kind of enlightened self-interest that the party of Lincoln once represented. Current conservatives prefer to roll the dice in the hope that they personally will be able to cash in, at the expense of workers, partners, investors, customers, and community. Misrepresenting company value is one of the less damaging practices that so-called businessmen engage in these days. Fundamentally, I believe that the problem comes down to the lack of a true meritocracy. Warring for pride of place is the abandonment of a work ethic by the privileged children of wealth. Along with them, the not-so-privileged dreamers turn away from work, seeing that hard work did not serve to make their parents wealthy, and believing the message of greed-is-good, they aspire only to entitlements, not to useful lives. Current liberal thinking, and current "conservative" thinking exacerbate the problem. Neither throwing money at the undeserving, nor supporting the useless inheritance of wealth by parasites brings us the conservative values we need. Incenting business to do more than create artificial stock "value" would go far toward bringing back real businesspeople. People are only as good as their goals, and if their goals are to artificially inflate a stock price...well they can do so better by not working than by working!

When it comes to societal problems, Kim and I have many, many differences about solutions but we often agree on cause...

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