excelent discussion, and many excelent points…
I don’t agree that the consumers are responsible for bad practices of the corporations. I live in the US and, as the consumer, often times I find that many consumer choices are not available to me. I am affraid, if we look closely at the facts, things are not always as simple as they seem and suply does not always equil the demand.
A couple of small examples: when I visited London I could easily get around anyware I wanted to without a car. In the city where I live, St Louis, I can not do that. Again, when I was in London I could see “fair trade” signs and labels everywhere, in the US I’ve never seen a “fair trade” label. I can go on and on about my lack of choices and how unhappy I am about that.
Dean Debisette from Trinidad & Tobago
“Profit is a very dirty word when you are not making any”
As long as profit remains faceless nameless and without a conscience it will always be a problem for us, why aren’t these huge companies doing something more with all the money they are making they do help some people but never enough and why is that?
When someone makes an effort to achieve something there has to be an incentive for the work.
What other type of incentive would someone propose to a firm that is employing people, paying taxes, helping build our lifestyles that we demand.
Great to hear young people from around the world discussing this issue. I suggest that whether monetary or otherwise (such as non-tangible benefits), personal profit is the strongest motivator for hard work, innovation and the risk of entrepreneurial investment. Not the only one, but the most powerful. The problem is that if private business and profit is unchecked, abuses will definitely result (an undeniable observation from human history). The trick is to balance free enterprise with adequate non-stifling regulation that will protect societies from excesses. But there are no simple solutions for complex problems. Given these realities, young people should focus on developing a pragmatic balance of protections and incentives. This balance should take into account the “real costs” and profits of some businesses as well.
Profit is not an effort abstract from people, it is driven by people either in the pursuit of profit or by consumers who make profit possible. The choice is how will those striving for profit or the products or services that produce profit filter their efforts or consequences of their consumerism through values, sustainability issues and human and environmental costs? You cannot talk about any of these issues as if they are separate from people. Whether the profit seeker or the profit generator, we all have responsibilities to ourselves, each other and the earth and all its inhabitants. There must be a full accounting on all aspects of profit, regardless of pursuit or cause and effect of consumption. Whether in the pursuit of profit as stockholders, share owners, employees, vendors, or profit generators such as consumers, etc., none stand alone and apart from one another! A full and comprehensive accounting must be tallied from beginning to end. The true issue lies in what is wrong or right and who is to decide the values through which decisions are made as to how profit is made, and what profit is to be spent on? Corruption is an issue of integrity and values, not profit.
Businesses have the responsibility to be transparent and the consumer has the responsibility to take an actice interest in that transparency.
Global climate change and corporate greed are part of a long chain in which we the consumers are the first link. Some would argue that the chain is circular and consumers play one key part in the cycle. But either way, I think most advocates of environmentalism who rail against corporate pollution aren’t addressing a critical fact: those corporations and factories and governments are in power precisely because there is a consumer base to support them.
I’m not saying there aren’t significant cases of greed or corruption at the top, but rather that we complaining consumers should first educate ourselves about the impact our daily choices make en masse and ‘walk our talk’. Until we do that in a massive majority way, all our venting and finger pointing about corruption and greed are just hot air.
History testifies that corruption and greed are part of human nature. We can hope and pray that humans will evolve beyond them someday. But someday is not a timetable we can be on if we’re talking about global tipping points, bio-feedback loops, and irreversible climate change.
I am the problem. I must be the solution. Now is the time.
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