As I was channel-surfing, I saw Dinesh D’Souza on BookTV, and I decided to listen for a few minutes before settling on watching poker. I don’t have any respect for him after he published his book, The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11, which seems to be exactly the divisive rhetoric that I’m against. I think he was answering some type of question from a caller. D’souza was talking about Reagan and how Reagan introduced a notion that government is not the solution, it is the problem. The part that intrigued me was he said that after JFK the way to serve the country was to be in the Peace Corp or whatnot, and with Reagan, the entrepreneur was the one to be admired.
Might I introduce the notion of the citizen-entrepreneur as the new paradigm.
After all the corporate scandals, I’m reluctant to just jump on board the conservative/libertarian paradigm. That government should just leave the free market and citizens to do their work. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against that — I just want to reframe the problem. Government cannot make us virtuous. It cannot turn us into responsible people. It is our own duty to train ourselves to be virtuous people.
What I want is people in the corporate sphere to be more responsible when dealing with their fellow citizens, and I think that “responsibility” is a value that all sides should agree with. (Well, maybe some hard-core libertarians wouldn’t like it.)
Some people will argue that my thought-experiment makes no sense. A corporation’s primary allegiance should be towards its bottom line.
I may be wrong, but to me that’s like saying “My goal is to get things done.” Well, that can be a good goal, but it raises the question: What things do you want to get done? The corporation must serve its customer. Their boss is the customer, not the dollar.
Then again, I’m neither a businessman nor an economist, so I may be getting things backwards. Didn’t Adam Smith say that it’s the butcher’s self-interest that makes him create meat?
Even if I’m completely wrong, though, it makes sense to establish parameters on this self-interest. We do this occasionally with things called laws, but I’d like to do this with this thing called responsibility.
I mean, we all already know that the invisible hand can’t do everything. Some would argue that government needs to step in to correct for certain externalities. The government doesn’t need to step in, we need to step up. If I refuse to buy a product because of its stupid ads, I can refuse to buy a product because of more noble reasons.
Maybe I’m too optimistic.
So far, I am just toying with the idea, but I think it deserves more consideration.