February 17, 2009

Business People Aren’t Inherently Bad

Filed under: Philosophy — Robert John Ed @ 9:56 pm

There, I said it.  It seems like that’s the perception though.  Recently more than a few people I’ve met with kind of blanch when I tell them that I’m a business student.  One specifically discounted what I said as biased (what isn’t biased?) because I’m “one of them.”  That’s a direct quote.

First, let’s touch on the big points.  We live in a capitalistic society that depends on the market to provide more so than the government.  Some may think this a bad thing and I disagree.  Though it’s certainly not perfect (humans cannot be), it has worked relatively well for us over the last few hundred years.  So regardless if you like professional business people or not, you rely on businesses every day of your life to provide you the comforts of a modern society.  What’s more, you expect a great deal from businesses as a consumer and most people forget that businesses do not owe you anything.  They exist to make a profit (despite the fact that GOOD businesses and marketing are oriented around consumer advocacy) and must do so to remain in business.  The vast majority of people work for a business of some kind.  Today on the bus someone I was speaking with said, “Well, I’m going to work for the government.”  That is great, but our society couldn’t function as just a government.  That would be communism or some derivative of it.  Now I enjoy Marx as much as the next amateur philosophical hobbyist, but there is a good reason that communist states haven’t proliferated, humans cannot (or have not yet) seem to exist in a communistic state.

Additionally, businesses drive innovation.  What for?  Profitability!  How do you achieve profits?  You build a better mousetrap or create an innovative product or service that the market (that’s us, folks) deems worth paying for.  This is extremely simple and I’m sure some people out there are rolling their eyes a bit, but I feel that people take it for granted.  We all do to some extent.  My issue arises when people are so hypocritical as to think themselves above modern business.  You can’t have it both ways.  Those that openly lament the system are very likely not thinking holistically about the effect of businesses on their lives.

Subconscious and facetious dislike of something is one thing, but openly portraying or addressing business people as greedy of ill repute is another.  I suppose this must be how lawyers feel.  I also am well aware that I’m fighting a losing battle and am very unlikely to alter perceptions of business people as a whole.  But I work with some very nice people every day and consider myself as moral as most others I’ve met as well.  Still, stereotypes are perpetuated for a reason.  There are some very bad apples out there.  I believe that businesses should all be held liable for their actions and seek to be accountable for the products and services they sell.

My apologies for ranting on this, but when the same situation continues to arise (apparent dislike of business and the people who work in it…especially professionals), it makes it quite difficult to rationalize in my own mind.  What is so bad about us?  I don’t get it and maybe I never will.  Maybe under it all the idea that my vocational choice isn’t an ideal way to live shakes me and that’s aggravating?  Doubtful, as I really enjoy marketing and business.

A caveat to this is that I’m not completely sure giving corporations the same rights as a human being is a good idea.  In fact, I don’t think it’s a good idea, but I won’t deign to pretend that my expertise warrants an opinion written thoroughly here.  People should not be allowed to hide behind a business, they should be directly accountable.  I may well write on this further as the road continues, it’s kind of a big deal.



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