///The Only Corporate Social Responsibility///
My degree is from Trent, a school with a business program predicated on the presumed organizational benefits and moral validity of the “triple bottom line” (profit, environmental sustainability, and social responsibility). As much as I enjoyed my university education and never had a bad prof, I still politely disagree with the business school’s primary discourse. I think that ‘corporate social responsibility’ is a misnomer.
You’ve probably heard lots of whining about Chick-fil-A’s regressive stance on gay marriage over the last few weeks. In turn, hundreds of thousands of portly Chick-fil-A lovers deluged its stores with patronage to clog their arteries. Oh, and to support the company’s stance. Some portion of these folks didn’t attend to support the traditional definition of marriage, but to show support for a really inarticulate notion of ‘free speech’ (of course people have free speech, just as people have used their free speech to rip on the company). Then a few LGBTTTQ (no, that is not me mocking anybody — that is the latest acronym I could find) folks decided to hold a kiss-in (although, apparently, not many got the memo).
Then Amazon’s PR group used the situation to articulate its support for gay marriage. Amazon’s stance proves that, in America, a company can bully the government, avoid paying taxes, and still claim to be ‘progressive’. Thank goodness we can look to an online book retailer for moral guidance.
What do Amazon and Chick-fil-A have in common? Not much. I wouldn’t buy Amazon stock because of its
stellar 0% dividend. I wouldn’t buy Chick-fil-A because, even if I wanted to, it’s a privately-held company (not traded on a stock exchange) — if I could choose to buy a privately-held fast food chain it’d be Five Guys. Another thing these companies hold in common is that they’re both throwing a lot of money at their pet causes.
The shameful part is that Amazon and Chick-fil-A can deduct from their taxes the shareholder money that they waste on charitable contributions. Companies don’t have any social responsibilities beyond adhering to the law and maximizing profit. These companies should, from these maximized profits, pay larger dividends (heck, Amazon should pay A dividend). Shareholders, in turn, could donate their extra income to whatever causes they wanted.
Let’s look at a quick primer on social responsibilities:
- Companies make profit.
- Governments exist to enact solutions to collective action problems (e.g. prisoner’s dilemmas, tragedies of the commons, etc.), based on the tyranny of the plurality.
- Charities resolve social problems as defined by their benefactors.
I recall an interview in an extremely socialist movie (the kind of nonacademic, subjective junk you’d get from a Naomi Klein propaganda piece) called “The Corporation“. Somebody (I forget who) says that a corporation is a profit-making machine in the same manner as a shark is a killing machine. That’s obviously a pretty biased simile but it’s true.
I like companies. Limited liability corporations have made fractional ownership possible, they’ve helped accomplish incredible things, and they’ve generated a lot of wealth. By myopically following their ‘evil’ pursuit of profit, they’ve helped far more people than charities ever will.
Even still, it’s OK to be uneasy about the notion of entrusting ‘social responsibilities’ to companies – they’re not designed to enact them. Would you trust BP to decide which wetlands to protect as Crown Land? I’m horrified by the notion and I’m not an “Occupy Wall Street” tool. Corporate social responsibility – followed to its logical conclusion – would turn CEOs into policy-makers. Collective interests and shareholder value are the victims. And pity the company that gets a social planner for a CEO.
From the perspectives of virtue ethics and this petite bourgeois blogger, that’s why for-profit corporations shouldn’t be asked to, nor applauded for, enacting social responsibility. Don’t let your government off the hook. Don’t accept that charities like the Canadian Cancer Society waste most of their money on marketing, fundraising, and administration. Don’t feel smug and believe that your social responsibility (which actually does exist) is fulfilled because you bought a coffee on Tim Horton’s Camp Day.
Wendy’s is the company that got the ‘gay marriage’ question right (although I beg to differ on their $1.89 “value menu” price point). Their statement on the issue of gay marriage is that they don’t have one. Wendy’s is “proud to serve customers of varied races, backgrounds, cultures and sexual orientation, with different beliefs and values.” I like Junior Bacon Cheeseburgers. I don’t care about the opinions of Dave Thomas any more than he cares about mine (and he’s dead).
Over 40 years ago, the brilliant Milton Friedman (RIP) wrote a short article called “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits“. Some business execs really need to read it.
///The Movie Project///
My Team Fortress 2 performance improved again. As a sniper in one round (without dying), I had 10 headshots and exactly 20 total kills.
lol wut? You wanted to hear about movies? *pocket sand*
///Catherine a.k.a. Cat in the Hat///
She tried to wear her toy as a hat. And here’s a video of Cat and I:
- Sir BCM kindly called himself the King of Procrastinators in referencing my monthly goals. But I doubt his procrastination could beat my continuous failure to fix the Malibu. I should challenge him to a procrastination duel.
- Dave from 6400 Personal Finance mentioned my guest post on Boomer and Echo. He should seriously trademark the slogan “Because being frugal is no excuse for being fat”. And I should seriously consider following it.
///Amendments and Addenda///
///Tweet(s) of the Week///
I started reading this book I found called 50 Shades of Grey and now my boy parts feel funny. What should I do guys?
— Nelson Smith (@financialuproar) August 3, 2012
@financialuproar ever since I saw Magic Mike, my taste in literature has inexplicably changed.
— TimelessFinance (@TimelessFinance) August 3, 2012
For the record, no, I did not see Magic Mike. If I had, it definitely wouldn’t count as a “Movie Project” film.
Money-Smart Keyword Award goes to:
ing direct automatic savings plan $50 2012
asp with ing direct get bonus
Smart! Although, to my knowledge, the bonus is $25 not $50.
Money-Stupid Keyword Award goes to:
why do people always rip me off
Because you clearly have no locus of control. The real question is: why do you always let people rip you off? You’ve got to stand up for yourself.
lol wut? Keyword Award goes to:
what do gen y drink when out
Sunny D, it’s the goodness kids go for!
Notably missing keyword to SEO-optimize this post by increasing the keyword density
An excellent movie from the US Department of Homeland security about surviving an active shooter situation. Fighting back would be, by far, the most effective option. But because of Canada’s regressive hatred for handguns, it’s not possible.
1. Control Your Cash did a cool blog post last week about Knight Capital’s half-billion dollar tech error. Personally, I’m interested in financial economics. Even if you’re not, read this post for an excellent explanation what a “market maker” is. Greg mentions the hilarious “Illuminati” blame game that unintelligent people play to disguise their ignorance about how competitive markets works (“If we all don’t buy any gas on a specific date next month, the evil oil companies will drop their prices!!”).
2. An op-ed column by David Brooks yielded the best quote I read this week: “what God hath woven together, even multiple regression analysis cannot tear asunder,” as well as the second best quote of the week, “In your 20s, for example, you should regard yourself as an Ayn Randian Superman who is the architect of the wonder that is you.”
3. ”I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar“. As the last paragraph says, “That’s why I grammar test people who walk in the door looking for a job. Grammar is my litmus test. All applicants say they’re detail-oriented; I just make my employees prove it.” My grammar isn’t excellent, let alone perfect. But lazy, consistent errors show a lack of respect for one’s clients. Note this article’s slug (blog URL): “i_wont_hire_people_who_use_poo.html”. Duly noted.