Sunday, January 6, 2008

The balance between business and workers

Perhaps I’m over reacting to “The Shock Doctrine” , the latest book I’m reading. It deals with the practice of introducing laissez-faire practices during a crisis. The crisis could be a natural disaster or an economic down turn but the theory is that while people are focused on the crisis they won’t notice the changes in policy.

While not a formal student of history, I do read a lot and try to pay attention and my simple analysis is that the US middle class has prospered in a managed economy not a laissez-faire one. Right now we seem to be moving back to the days when big business had few restraints and treated workers as disposable.

It seems to me that when the founder (or the small group of founders) still control the business, enlightened self-interest can guide good business policy AND good social interaction. When you have share holders and a board of directors is seems that society has to provide the enlightenment.

Of course if society gets too “enlightened” the pendulum swings too far the other way and business can’t survive. So we have to try and walk that delicate balance between what’s good for business and what’s good for workers.

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