The Dartmouth Observer
Monday, September 16, 2002
Re: The Emporer has no clothes on
Summary of Article and Response
The wonderful article to which I am responding contends that the greedy capitalist CEO was a better humanitarian because his business eventually succeeded and thereby created more wealth and jobs, while the socially-conscious CEO was a lesser humanitarian because his business eventually failed, presumably because of his good-will. What the article fails to consider is that these corporations did not operate in a vacuum, but instead competed against other companies, and their effect on other companies must also be considered in assessing how humanitarian each is.
To see how competition plays a role, consider two companies in the same market, one greedy and the other worker-friendly. If each are otherwise identical, the greedy company may be able to cut costs by treating workers poorly and undercut its worker-friendly rival. In the article's rhetoric, the greedy company has "created" 100 jobs (for example), while the worker-friendly company has "lost" 1000 jobs. What has in fact happened, is that quality positions at one company have been shifted in the economy to low quality positions at its greedy rival.
Obviously, I do not care to nor have the background to go into detail about the companies analyzed by the article, nor do I have any evidence that 1000 good jobs will translate into an equal number of bad jobs. I am simply saying that the article's logic is completely wrong, as the example demonstrates.
As a brief side-note, I would say that greed is not the primary force driving our economy, but a strong work ethic, taking pride in one's work, and other cheesy motivations. Of course, that's just my personal opinion, but then again the article I am responding to is much more an opinion piece than the in-depth case study it would like to be.