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Limits of Social Responsibility

“It is not enough for business to do well; it must also do good.” But in order to “do good,” a business must first “do well.”

Whenever a business has disregarded the limitation of economic performance and has assumed social responsibilities that it could not support economically, it has soon gotten into trouble.

Union carbide was not socially responsible when it put its into Vienna, West Virginia, to alleviate unemployment there. It was, in fact, irresponsible. The plant was marginal to begin with. The process was obsolescent. At best the plant could barely keep its head above water. And this, inevitably, meant a plant unable to take on social responsibility, even for its own impacts. Because the plant was uneconomical to begin with, Union Carbide resisted so long all demands to clean it up. This particular demand could not have been foreseen in the late 1940s, when concern with jobs far outweighed any for the environment. But demands of some kind can always be expected. To do something out of social responsibility that is economically irrational and untenable is therefore never responsible. It is sentimental. The result is always greater damage.

ACTION POINT: Explain why this is true: In order for a business to “do good,” it must first “do well,” and indeed very well.

Integrating the Economic and Social

It is this absence of a functioning industrial society, able to integrate our industrial reality that underlies the crises of our times.

Man in this social and political existence must have a functioning society just as he must have air to breath in his biological existence. However, the fact that man has to have a society does not necessarily mean that he has it. Nobody calls the mass of unorganized, panicky, stampeding humanity in a shipwreck a “society.” There is no society, though there are human beings in a group. Actually, the panic is directly due to the break-down of a society; and the only way to overcome it is by restoring a society with social values, social discipline, social power, and social relationships.

Social life cannot function without a society; but it is conceivable that it does not function at all. The evidence of the last twenty-five years of Western civilization hardly entitles us to say that our social life functioned so well as to make out a prima-facie case of the existence of a functioning society.

ACTION POINT: The passage above was written during World War II. It recognized that after centuries of industrial advances there had not been a similar advance in other institutions of society. Should the economic dimension of society ever take supremacy over the human, social, and political dimensions?

You can make positive deposits in your own economy every day by reading and listening to powerful, positive, life-changing content and by associating with encouraging and hope-building people.

Zig Ziglar

Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.

Ronald Reagan

Our workforce and our entire economy are strongest when we embrace diversity to its fullest, and that means opening doors of opportunity to everyone and recognizing that the American Dream excludes no one.

Thomas Perez

Agriculture is not crop production as popular belief holds – it’s the production of food and fiber from the world’s land and waters. Without agriculture it is not possible to have a city, stock market, banks, university, church or army. Agriculture is the foundation of civilization and any stable economy.

Allan Savory

Most of us understand that innovation is enormously important. It’s the only insurance against irrelevance. It’s the only guarantee of long-term customer loyalty. It’s the only strategy for out-performing a dismal economy.

Gary Hamel

 

Illegal immigration is crisis for our country. It is an open door for drugs, criminals, and potential terrorists to enter our country. It is straining our economy, adding costs to our judicial, healthcare, and education systems.

Timothy Murphy

Animals have come to mean so much in our lives. We live in a fragmented and disconnected culture. Politics are ugly, religion is struggling, technology is stressful, and the economy is unfortunate. What’s one thing that we have in our lives that we can depend on? A dog or a cat loving us unconditionally, every day, very faithfully.

Jon Katz

The reality is that business and investment spending are the true leading indicators of the economy and the stock market. If you want to know where the stock market is headed, forget about consumer spending and retail sales figures. Look to business spending, price inflation, interest rates, and productivity gains.

Mark Skousen

Globalization has produced a new of level of interdependence among us. The economy and multinational supply chains do not abide by political boundaries. A computer ordered in Brazil is designed in California and assembled in several other countries. Economic integration was the first strong evidence of a new era.

Eduardo Paes

Nuclear power will help provide the electricity that our growing economy needs without increasing emissions. This is truly an environmentally responsible source of energy.

Michael Burgess

True security is based on people’s welfare – on a thriving economy, on strong public health and education programmes, and on fundamental respect for our common humanity. Development, peace, disarmament, reconciliation and justice are not separate from security; they help to underpin it.

Ban Ki-moon

The Great Depression, like most other periods of severe unemployment, was produced by government mismanagement rather than by any inherent instability of the private economy.

Milton Friedman

Collaboration is important not just because it’s a better way to learn. The spirit of collaboration is penetrating every institution and all of our lives. So learning to collaborate is part of equipping yourself for effectiveness, problem solving, innovation and life-long learning in an ever-changing networked economy.

Don Tapscott

The shift to a cleaner energy economy wont happen overnight, and it will require tough choices along the way. But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact.

Barack Obama

Change, Fact, Happen

Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 will benefit about 28 million workers across the country. And it will help businesses, too – raising the wage will put more money in people’s pockets, which they will pump back into the economy by spending it on goods and services in their communities.

Thomas Perez

To me, it really seems visible today that ethics is not something exterior to the economy, which, as technical matter, could function on its own; rather, ethics is an interior principle of the economy itself, which cannot function if it does not take account of the human values of solidarity and reciprocal responsibility.

Pope Benedict XVI

Economy is the basis of society. When the economy is stable, society develops. The ideal economy combines the spiritual and the material, and the best commodities to trade in are sincerity and love.

Morihei Ueshiba

There is not Communism or Marxism, but representative democracy and social justice in a well-planned economy.

Fidel Castro

A successful economic development strategy must focus on improving the skills of the area’s workforce, reducing the cost of doing business and making available the resources business needs to compete and thrive in today’s global economy.

Rod Blagojevich

The truth is the Super Bowl long ago became more than just a football game. It’s part of our culture like turkey at Thanksgiving and lights at Christmas, and like those holidays beyond their meaning, a factor in our economy.

Bob Schieffer

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