Friday, May 28, 2010

The Profitability of Business Ethics

New ethics column at

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sure, Go Ahead: Blame the Socialists.

The thing that I find fascinating is that the problem of bureaucracy is a systemic problem worldwide. I tend to agree that socialism—as defined and demonstrated by Marxists –is an inefficient theory of both political economy, and implicitly, social justice. Where I begin to have a problem with criticism of socialism is that the antagonists are as much to blame for the world’s woes as the failed Marxists. It is interesting to note that since the collapse of the Berlin Wall—and essentially Marxist political economy, the deterioration of individual economies—and as a consequence—the global economy government deficits, financial malfeasance, and other macroeconomic problems have proliferated. This is not to categorically assign blame to ‘capitalists’ but only to point out that much of our troubles have been self-inflicted by the free-market liberal democratic paradigm. Hypocritical politicians have campaigned on the principles of smaller government while the empirical evidence clearly reveals that law makers who claim to seat on the right side of the political teeter tooter are as complicit as those who are deemed to be socialists.(Obama did not create the problems and has merely taken over what the Bush Administration attempted to do to stop the economy from collapsing) The consequences of supply side economics are testament to how ideology can be easily corrupted by the lust for power and influence. Example: For Americans to blame their financial woes on ‘socialism’ is like blaming the boogieman. Reagan, Bush I and Bush II talked a good game on fiscal restraint and trickle down economics—but unfortunately the reality of the current situation seriously tarnishes their credibility. Ironically, it was the left wing Clinton that turned in the best economic performance since Eisenhower—although the surpluses and boom years were more an economic aberration due to the policies of an unbridled Fed than a consequence of his economic policies.

Another irony that I see in the current debate about the scourge of socialism is that the social democratic countries—namely Norway, Sweden and Finland have economic metrics with regard to fiscal management that reveal a lower financial risk than that of America and the U.K. The Scandinavian countries have managed their economies well during these tumultuous times—although they too have experienced problems in the past—and have been able to deliver a standard of living to its citizens that consistently top the rankings made by the World Bank and other institutions. While I agree that Marxism and other forms of extreme socialism will not make the world a better place in which to live—and that I think it is quite valid to make pronouncements to that effect—solely blaming socialism for the current mess is insufficient—modern capitalism and hypocritical proponents of liberal individualism warrant much of the blame.

While the deficiencies of socialism are acknowledged and the burden placed upon us by a burgeoning public sector are obvious—it seems to me that no one has the political will to address the realities of a massive downsizing of government that will be required to remedy the problem. While resources must be moved from the unproductive sector of the economy to a venue that encourages innovation and economic efficiency, the problem of ridding the public sector of literally millions of jobs seems to be constantly swept under the rug. Politicians are excellent at doing the Ostrich trick. How would a government deal with massive unemployment and the necessity of converting a static and lethargic workforce to a mobile and enthused segment of the economy? The Leviathan has to be disassembled and this certainly won’t happen without massive opposition and possible social unrest. When a politician can explain to me how and when that inevitable task would be undertaken I will be encouraged. The dilemma is daunting and will require much misery to be endured by the middle class. The social ramifications are immense.

However, in the end, the mechanism of the free market will handle this—it always has and always will—whether under the guise of capitalism—socialism—theocracy—fascism—monarchy or whatever man can throw in its way. Free markets prevail under any political context—it is just a matter of how long it can remain somewhat in balance under the misguided rule of politicians and financiers who spout their ideology but inevitably succumb to the vices of excessiveness. People have no idea what is on the horizon—I find it very disconcerting. The foundations of our society has fissures running throughout—the structure that holds our societies together and ensure that justice prevails is about to collapse on itself. The memory of the 2007-2008 economic fiasco is quickly fading—the renewed bubble in the stock market attests to the fact that no one is willing to take responsibility and that the status quo is still guiding our path into a financial abyss that has not been witnessed by the world for several hundred years. The culprit—when the history books are written--might be socialism, but the reality of the situation is that endemic greed and elitist arrogance and contempt have exploited the people who form the heart of a society that embraces liberty and the repercussions will be dramatic and filled with personal suffering and misery. When the individuals that are responsible for innovation and production—the middle class—are alienated and disenfranchised anarchy prevails. History has shown that at times like this liberty is often usurped by tyrants and man reverts to cruel and harsh measures to protect what he deems to be rightfully his.

There is only one solution to what ails us: the innate response that our planet and all its living beings employ to endeavor to survive. This will be the work of God—it won’t be pleasant but it will serve to readjust the imbalances that our deviation from virtuous behavior has caused. Later this year, when the markets truly meltdown, people will begin to appreciate the gravity of the predicament that mercenary capitalists and megalomanic politicians have placed our world in. Civilization will soon be ripe for tyrants to emerge and take advantage of the chaos.

It is fine to blame socialists for all our woes—but the evidence clearly reveals that the conservative right and big business are as complicit as the progressives in creating a situation that will change our world drastically over the next decade.