I often have thought that business is really just socializing with money. By that I mean that businesses form partnerships in much the same way people form relationships. There’s a courting phase in which both sides decide whether the other is worthy, and subsequently go trough phases of either increasing closeness or separation. So with that being said, I’d like to highlight a major difference between the two.
Living in Korea gives me a new perspective on business and economics. Seeing how things work here and comparing them to other countries I have been to provides a wide perspective on business as a whole. These past two years I learned about running my own small business. It was very similar to building a social network of friends, yet a bit more serious. I noticed, however, that the larger the company was, the less personal it became. This seems to be akin to the way getting famous can isolate you from your friends and or make it hard for people to get close to you. When a company gets larger, the stakes are larger too and therefore every decision has greater importance, requires more thought, and since most people are risk-averse, it makes them more cautious as well. The problem with cautiousness (with friends or business) is that it emphasizes the negative consequences over the positive.
Now, speaking of consequences, recently I read an article about how Petco has a room in the back of their stores where sick or unwanted animals are literally left to die. They are not even euthanized at times because that can get expensive when multiplied by the thousands and thousands of unwanted animals across the country. And so, they are often just left to starve. Now as horrible as this seems, business-wise this makes perfect sense. When it comes I business, you must meet or exceed the demand of your customers and minimize expenses so that you can continue prospering and paying your employees so they can feed their families. This makes letting animals die a perfectly acceptable thing. Yet, morally it seems so wrong. Inherently we know that animals share the same life force that we do and therefore don’t deserve this kind of treatment, much the same as the human race learned how terrible it is to enslave people and or euthanize them through our horrific collective past experience. But to go back to the point, this is business were talking about here. And business has no room in it for certain morals. The only morals that become business practices are those that are reinforced by profits and consumer opinions.
So the question I would like to raise with you today is, is business a good or a bad thing? It is the life blood to our advancing economies and therefore lives. But at the same time, it brings out the most ruthless side of humans and causes us to do things we would never do otherwise. Do you think the Petco store manager would let her family dog starve if she wanted to take a month long vacation to Europe? What would you do?