Comment of the Day on “Ethics Bob Opens An Ethics Can of Worms…”

Chase Martinez enters the debate on the ethics of Nike’s labor practices abroad, raised by a post by Bob Stone on his blog, and explicated here with some business ethics questions that have long perplexed both critics and advocates of American capitalism.Here is his Comment of the Day:

“The company has a duty to make money.”

“I think what is unethical is consumers abdicating their ethical duty to make informed choices. In big business, “everybody does it” is self-propagating because there is no consumer pressure to be better than your competition. The “free market” assumes an informed consumer-base that punishes companies who disagree with their values by taking their business to those that do. This doesn’t happen, and while some fault lies with companies for using the EBDI rationalization, most, I think, lies with consumers for being apathetic. As long as American consumers don’t care about Chinese peasants working for a dollar a day because they don’t know any better, corporations like Nike have no reason to care.”

7 thoughts on “Comment of the Day on “Ethics Bob Opens An Ethics Can of Worms…”

  1. Why would Companies give work to the Chinese (ref. to this case) while at home the rate of unemployment is soaring and cry foul afterwards about Chinese economic “dominance”? But this would be a different topic with no relevance to this post, such as: Business vs Ethical Patriotism.

      • Well, to begin with, we don’t really make that much.

        And asking people to pay more, or to buy inferior products, for patriotic purposes is both unreasonable and counter productive. Why try to compete with less expensive and higher quality products if people only care about where they are made, rather than about how well?

        • LOL, Jack, I have nothing to sell so I am not asking them to buy anything (in fact, I prefer the option of buying less). Just seemed a better solution than expecting manufacturing companies to worry about American unemployment rates. Seems to me that is something you can only change with dollars and the only dollars I control are mine.

          • Danielle—the way to help the economy is to buy MORE. It would be alot better too if wealthy people would spend like crazy rather than wait for the government to take their money away and waste it.

            • …and there is the difference. I’d rather help the planet than the economy. Buy less, buy local, reuse, recycle, repurpose, restore… I’ve already bought into it. You won’t convince me to buy more, Jack. I agree on the quality though. We could have a loooooong chat about quality and lack thereof in the market in general…. and don’t even get me started on customer service!

  2. Corporations are greedy, and willing to take their business offshore to make more money — presumably to benefit their shareholders, but not incidentally to ensure that executives make obscene salaries and are awarded huge stock options and bonuses. If that means having their goods made by slave labor in China, they just don’t care. I try not to buy goods made in China, tho that is becoming more difficult by the day. It is clear that the Fortune 500 (separate from small business) have no real desire to help solve the American unemployment problem because it doesn’t affect them personally. (Of course, certain unions don’t help, either.)

    I’d like to know what impact a more generalized boycott of slave-produced goods from China would have on our multi-trillion dollar debt to that country. BTW, it’s no wonder they have money to lend as they produce goods for practically nothing then sell them abroad…

    As another example, the unfair business practices of Japan over time (collusion to take over our electronics and car industries by deciding as a group to undersell Americans and lose money for a decade because they knew they’d make up over the long term, for example — against the law in the US — and placing ridiculously high import taxes on American car imports there) have made our family a “buy American” car purchaser for decades.

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