Unfortunately, they do not arrive at this conclusion because they are original thinkers, rejecting the common wisdom of society; they think this way because this is the schizophrenic teaching of society. Any request for moral behavior in business is greeted with incredulity and "we're not a charity, you know." Morality in business is not merely a matter of refraining from committing fraud or theft. Compliance with the laws and living according to a moral light are entirely different matters. But our businessmen think what our business schools teach, and what society unthinkingly accepts, that each of us is licensed to chase the dollar without regard for anything except the laws.
There is a moral pitfall that consists of thinking that anything that society will sell you a license to do cannot be wrong. I can buy a fishing license and throw little bluegills on a pile on the bank, leaving them to rot, for my own amusement, but it would not be right though legal.
Nothing reminds me so much of the relationship between democracy and capitalism as the sight, familiar from photographs, of the tiny sparrow perched on the shoulder of the fledgling cuckoo many times its own size, feeding it under the misapprehension that it is the sparrow's own child. The sparrow is exercising a misdirected altruism, but the cuckoo is a thief. There is no reciprocity. Businesses receive the blessings of democracy, but most exercise no citizenship in return. It is a mentality of what can I get, as in, can I get a tax break if I threaten to move out of town?
The last battle between democracy and capitalism is fought on the field of political campaign contributions. The phrase "soft money" sounds gentle and reassuring, like a soft rain. It is the campaign contributions, free of any limits that contributors can legally make to state and national parties, to be spent on the campaign "in general", rather than on a candidate. PAC's and soft money are the downfall of the system, the ultimate subversion of the democratic rulebook by the capitalistic. Ironically, when business decides to give something back, it is not to society, for society is too diffuse, too distracted and too powerless to be the most effective "investment". Instead, businessmen go right to the source, to the lawmakers, and buy them with soft money and PAC money. You vote for Congressman Botz, but he represents Archer-Daniels-Midland, who has given him more than you ever can, and whose memory is longer than yours. And at this point, two rulebooks--one intended to crawl forward forever, the other intended to glide to a destination--have collided. Capitalism is resting gently on the ground, atop the crushed shards of democracy.
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