Life

The business roundtable

A quick glance at the news on most days offers a disconcerting variety of what most accurately would be called “bad news”..Another shooting, another hurricane, another indictment, lots of troubling stuff. But if you look long enough and hard enough there is always something to be happy about. some “good news.”. 188 CEOS of major corporations in the US have just announced a revision of the heralded “purpose of a corporation” The former purpose was framed by noted economist Milton Friedman, who said “ There is one and only one social responsibility of business ... that is to engage in activities designed to increase profits. In other words, CEOs work for shareholders and no one else. The 188 CEOS otherwise known as the Business roundtable have revised this conventional wisdom to now say; ”businesses should be managed to benefit all stakeholders, employees, customers and society itself.”

The concerns that have been raised in the current presidential campaign have led many to believe that the future of Capitalism is at risk. They have some good reasons for their concern:the unmitigated rapacity of certain banks that led to the economic meltdown of 2008. Big Pharma’s multi billion dollar profits gained while at the same time creating the opioid crisis. The reckless and irresponsible use of fossil fuels that are destroying our planet while enriching the few. The high tech industry that persuades us to give up terabytes of our personal data so they can sell it to buyers at an enormous profit. And then the CEOs themselves that are paid astronomical salaries while the middle class see so little in the way of pay raises or cost of living increases.

Yes, the concerns are valid. Capitalism needs to change in the 21st century ... A course correction is indicated. But not a change to a socialist economy. It is neither needed or necessary. What is needed is a paradigm shift in our economy and the Business Roundtable revision is a good place to start. Let’s all hope they really mean it ... Actions mean more than words and we are approaching a crisis of confidence in the people who are the richest and most powerful in our country. I say let’s give those CEOS the benefit of the doubt.

Jim Turner, Fairfield