Corporations are going to save the world
Is it possible that corporations are getting a bum rap?
An article on Newsweek this morning, entitled “Big Business Can Be Evil and Greedy But Here’s How Corporations Will Help Save Us From Ourselves,” is co-written by an old friend of S&R, and it raises some very interesting questions about the role of business in our society.
As we know, a number of factors (several of which are noted in the article) have driven everything from moderate discontent to frothing rage among American voters pondering what they want the nation’s future to look like, and ascendant officials and candidates like Bernie Sanders and AOC have even gone so far as to embrace the dreaded S-word (that’d be “socialism”).
But are the excesses we read about, seemingly daily, the rule or the exception? When we consider things objectively is it possible that corps are way better than we give them credit for being?
Read it and make your own call. Here’s a snippet.
Despite what you may hear ad nauseam on the presidential campaign trail until November 3, 2020, businesses will help save us. Lost in the list of misdeeds and daily headlines, tweets and Instagram posts lies a profound and inconvenient truth: Corporations do a lot of good. (And we’re not talking about corporate philanthropy, which is statistically a tiny part of what they do.)
They make drugs that save lives. Before 2017, a quarter of a million people died each year as a result of hepatitis C. Now, 95 percent of those can be cured. They provide quality food, clothing and shelter at prices most people can afford. In 1798, T.J. Malthus predicted mass starvation because of population growth. Today, there’s enough food for a world with eight times the current population. Corporations provide transportation, communication and entertainment. They make the world safer and cleaner and do the chores the rest of us don’t want to do.
They change as we change. PEG Africa, a company owned by a large French corporation, is providing solar energy systems on credit for residences in West Africa, replacing expensive and polluting fuel like kerosene and firewood with free and clean energy. Alcoa recycles more than 1.3 billion pounds of aluminum each year, using less than 5 percent of the energy required to make aluminum from ore. Nike has diverted over 5 billion plastic bottles from landfills, and 75 percent of Nike products contain recycled materials. IBM extended health benefits to same-sex couples over 20 years ago. In 2014, CVS stopped selling cigarettes, which cost it over $2 billion in annual revenue. Dick’s Sporting Goods pulled assault-style weapons from its stores after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, and destroyed them.
Whenever people start complaining about big business (and I am often the one complaining) I think about some friends of mine in Topeka, Kansas who have a son who had some crazy rare cancer. Dad made tires at Goodyear and Mom was a receptionist. They had to fly to New York for treatment, and frequently Sprint (based in Kansas City) would let them ride along in a corporate jet for free, and they stayed at the Ronald McDonald house for free. During a super stressful time they had some help from big companies. The kid is now 17 and getting ready for college.