Among the critical open secrets of America’s commercial culture is this: High corporate executives are obsessed with their public images. They don’t just want to “make money,” as if operating profitable organizations that provide oodles of jobs while making things people want were somehow trivially dismissible. They want to Leave Their Footprints In The Sands Of Time. The longer they hold their high positions, the more the ephemerality of commercial achievement weighs on their minds.
This makes corporate executives easy marks for the species of predatory beast called the Good Cause. Such beasts roam the American landscape. Their diet is executive egos. They lure their prey with the promise of a benevolent image for cooperating…and the dissemination of outright slanders for declining.
The original rationale for the publicly traded corporation was that it would earn profits using invested capital and distribute those profits as dividends to its stockholders. In other words, it labors for the stockholders’ profit. Why else, really, would anyone buy into a corporate venture? Stock price appreciation is merely an alternate form for corporate profits: the form it takes when profits are reinvested in search of still greater profits.
This model is utterly contradicted by corporate charity and charitable involvement. The money that goes to such things belongs to the stockholders. No executive has a moral license to give it away, regardless of the Good Cause on which he proposes to lavish it. If he spends it on anything not connected to company productivity, he is stealing it from the stockholders.
If more irony were needed, today the majority of Good Causes are outrightly bad. Hearken to Ace of Spades co-blogger Buck Throckmorton:
Not wanting to be seen as bigoted, corporations started becoming very active in supporting organizations involved in “good” causes, especially those that affect women and identity groups. Thus, battling AIDS and breast cancer became workplace priorities. Don’t misunderstand, these are worthwhile causes, but once the barn door was opened, corporate America could not say “No” to any “worthy” cause. And since the far left gets to determine what is worthy and good, we now have major corporations promoting cross-dressing in the office and compelling certain disfavored employee demographics to submit to dehumanizing struggle sessions.
The left’s march through the institutions involved so much more than this topic of course, but when corporate America forfeited the right to say “No” to good causes, it opened the door to having to say “Yes” to every left wing pathology.
This is dead on target. Major executives and corporate directors are learning it the hard way. The cause promoters are twisting arms with the threat of major defamation campaigns and boycotts. And what are the CEOs to say? “We don’t do corporate charity” — ? When virtually every Fortune 5000 company has an internal United Way campaign?
It should never have begun. Putting it to death will take more clarity and more courage than contemporary executives possess. When William E. Simon wrote the following:
As is so often the case in our society, when the liberals orchestrate a nationwide uproar over good versus evil, all those defined as evil suffer an acute loss of nerve. Businessmen and bankers, who seem to value respectability more than their lives, are incapable of tolerating this moral abuse. Invariably they collapse psychologically. And whatever they may think and say in private, in public they either go mute or stumble frantically over their own feet as they rush to join the moral bandwagon. – William E. Simon, A Time For Truth
…he was describing the very process used to extort American businessmen and their firms, often not for causes that the great majority would approve and endorse, but for the very worst: the corruptors and destroyers of all that is right and good. And businessmen must be held accountable for permitting it.
Let Buck Throckmorton have the closing:
Charity and compassion begin at home. Leave it out of the workplace.