“For the better part of my studies in political science, I have focused on figuring out how government can be the solution to the problems it and society creates. I am confident that it indeed can be this solution. Big businesses, however, have always been the anomaly, where their incessant search for profit has placed money above the rights and freedoms of individuals and groups of people.”
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Zachary Antoyan is a political science senior and Mustang News liberal columnist. These views do not necessarily reflect the opinion or editorial coverage of Mustang News.
I learned in class the other day that the internal motto of Google is: “Don’t be evil.” When I think about major corporations, evil isn’t exactly the adjective that comes to mind, but it’s damn close. Maybe it’s because major Internet Service Providers are trying to control the flow of free information on the Internet. Perhaps it is because GQ Magazine is telling me what kind of man I am supposed to be. It might even be the elf-slaves Santa uses at the North Pole to make toys. For a while now, I have seen these corporations as only being the source of major issues throughout society. It’s time for this disposition to change.
For the better part of my studies in political science, I have focused on figuring out how government can be the solution to the problems it and society creates. I am confident that it indeed can be this solution. Big businesses, however, have always been the anomaly, where their incessant search for profit has placed money above the rights and freedoms of individuals and groups of people. Dr. Evil and Mr. Bigglesworth were always at the helm of these companies, seeking to exploit workers and consumers alike. Wherever government tried to create an equal ground for its people to thrive, big business was either trying to stifle legislation through lobbying or finding loopholes to gain the upper hand on the market.
Such is the nature of capitalism. The reassurance though, is that the invisible hand of the market will bring everything back to the center, where no one has a true advantage over anyone else. I have yet, however, to see the effect of this hand.
Political philosopher Reinhold Niebuhr explains how in political theory, there are two major camps of thought: the children of light and the children of darkness. Try not to associate either with the popular conceptions of light and dark, because neither in this case is wholly good or wholly bad. Instead, the children of light believe there to be an objective morality and that utopia is possible by rational thought. The children of darkness believe human action is dictated by self interest, and that it is the role of the government to force regulations on people in order to achieve the greatest possible society. Rather than one being good and the other bad, both are theories of how humans should govern themselves.
Whatever you may believe, both sides are attempting to achieve the same thing, and, in their own ways, both are correct. My belief that government could be the solution to world problems stands largely in the camp of children of light. But I always neglected the idea that pure self interest could lead us to the same conclusion. Self interest was always the source of political, economic and social issues; thus, government had to force individuals and businesses alike to follow the rules. Government had to be a literal hand, prodding the people to ensure equality.
Perhaps I could not see the effects of the invisible hand of the market simply because it hasn’t had any effect yet. Instead of the hand taking deliberate action and forcing the market into equality, what it is really meant to do is change the way people think. Essentially, the actions taken to regulate self interest, as in the camp of the children of darkness, would slowly give rise to perspectives and actions that are generally considered to be a part of the children of light; this is the invisible hand (I’ll go over a specific instance of this next week). And only just recently have we had the infrastructure to facilitate this shift.
With the trend toward globalization in recent decades, corporations have been able to reach a greater market and, additionally, have been able to understand the consumer better due to the spread of information and increased access to it. Not only should companies be concerned about selling their products and the marketing of their brand but also the power and influence they have on a global scale. Previously, this has been used to lobby government and appear clean in their business practices. However, as they expand and their actions are under increasing scrutiny by the public, they are forced to make a crucial decision: use this power to do good, or use it to exploit as they have in the past.
This question revolves around privacy, the environment, philanthropy, world hunger, clean water and ethical business practices. And indeed, this has been something businesses have faced for a while now, but as information spreads and people become more aware of their actions via the Internet, the decision becomes even more pertinent. Next week, we will examine how companies today are responding to this question.
This is Zachary Antoyan, thinking the number of people in line for Julian’s is TOO DAMN HIGH. Have a fantastic week.