Thursday 13 April 2006

In praise of profit

In a cafe earlier today I came across a copy of the Daily Express. Keith Aitken was writing about the proposed new Scottish law on corporate manslaughter.

He starts as follows:

There are no good reasons to kill innocent people...
OK. Who could disagree with that?

But the rest of the sentence goes like this:

...but the profit motive is one of the worst of all.
I think there's a great deal of confusion here. Everything we undertake is in the hope of a better result than inaction. That's the case whether money is involved or not, and whether businessmen are involved or not. So why does Aitken perceive financial motives to be worse than others?

Imagine Aitken is being attacked by a criminal with a knife. "OK," Aitken says. "Take the money." "Oh no," replies the attacker. "I don't want your money, I just feel like killing you."

At that moment is Mr Aitken thinking that he's glad that the criminal isn't motivated by financial gain? I think not. On the contrary, he's desperately wishing that "profit" were the motive.

What we're actually seeing here is another example of the unthinking, anti-capitalist nonsense that pervades the British media. The tragedy is that so many readers of newspapers are influenced by articles like that written by Mr Aitken.

1 comment:

David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

dave t
Aitken never misses a chance to slag off Americans and GW Bush either. He is also wrong time after time with much of what he writes - I have emailed and pulled him up on occasion but he carries on. Twit

14 April 2006, 16:06:09 GMT+01:00
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Given that the 'Daily Express' only costs 25p and that they never even acknowledge the powerful and beautifully crafted polemics I occasionally submit to them for publication, whose presence in its pages would have copies flying off the racks, its owners might not be interested in the profit motive. 
But there is a serious difference in fact and degree between street killings and deaths caused by corporate bodies' breach of their duties. You might not necessarily find many neds called Junior Gallagher O'Docherty sitting in boardrooms; and yes, duties to shareholders, blah, blah, got to pay high salaries to get the best people, blah, blah, business being strangled by red tape, blah, blah; but if someone somewhere in the corporate food chain takes a decision knowing that death or injury to human beings is a likely consequence of that decision, and the reason for their decision is the conduct of business (the profit motive by any other name), then there has to be an appropriate penalty to reflect that particular sort of turpitude.  
You can't bang limited companies behind bars for life; although some have been known to suicide, you can't execute them; so perhaps a specific offence with specific penalties might be the next best thing.

14 April 2006, 13:46:54 GMT+01:00
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Bishop Hill
We can always console ourselves with the fact that the young, the intelligent and the right-wing no longer read newspapers (according to Radio 4 the other day). This nonsense will only be read by stupid old lefties.

14 April 2006, 06:51:40 GMT+01:00