“Corporations Are Natural Sociopaths” – Insight from Geoffrey James (with a Smackdown of Ayn Rand)
Bob has a column up today about overrated business books – “7 Vastly Overrated Business Books.” I read through the article linked to, written by Geoffrey James. Admittedly it is only one man’s opinion about these books (Geoffrey James), but I found this provocative paragraph prompted by Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged:
Essentially Rand’s business philosophy is that the generation of wealth is, by itself, a positive and moral act simply because it creates jobs. What Rand completely misses is that corporations are natural sociopaths that can, must and will take advantage of society at large if not restrained by laws and regulations.
I agree with Mr. James. He may be using a little hyperbole, but it does seem that there is a group of people who believe that corporations somehow will be provide the wisdom, the ethical course, to lead us to the promised land.
I suspect I spent too many years in ministry, and I have been shaped by one clear teaching found in the Christian Scriptures: (actually, building on what Christians refer to as the Old Testament): “There is none righteous, no not one.”
In other words, corporations may not always be guided by good, right, ethical principles… (Subprime mortgage crisis, anyone?) In other words, trust – but verify. And therefore, provide guidelines, correctives (laws and regulations).
I don’t know that I agree with all of the opinions of Mr. James – but this one warning is worth paying careful attention to.