John Andrist: Is Big Business a Blessing or a Curse?


If somebody has more than they need, it is logical to conclude that sharing it with somebody who is hungry can satisfy both of them.

But does that mean the rich create the poor? Or that the rich are subjugating the poor?

Our family had that discussion around the dinner table, of all places, on Easter Sunday.

It certainly is true that the rich sometimes take advantage of the poor, but it seems that it is an untenable step to therefore conclude that greed and wealth create the poor.

Indeed, wealth often lifts the poor. America is the richest country in the world by most standards. Yet even its poverty is arguably lessened by wealth when compared to that of the third world.

Think with me about this: Communism and socialism seem to be strengthening economies in China, in the Scandinavias, to some degree in Russia, and in a few other places.

But it has been pretty much of a disaster in our hemisphere. Look at Cuba and Venezuela, and in parts of Latin America.

The China we use to hate is crowded, polluted, and repressive. But it is becoming an economic poster child.

General Motors is the second largest automobile supplier for China, and I heard on Public Radio the other day that the Chinese are buying more Cadillacs than we are here in the states.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]It certainly is true that the rich sometimes take advantage of the poor, but it seems that it is an untenable step to therefore conclude that greed and wealth create the poor.[/mks_pullquote]

What explains the difference in these bastions of socialism? It could just be the successful socialist states are finding ways to fuel business, instead of trying to do a take-down such as American leftists like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren propose — the model used in Cuba and Venezuela.

It’s not a new or novel idea. Abraham Lincoln said something to the affect that you can’t lift the poor by taking down the rich.

I’ve read than Scandinavian countries have the lowest corporate taxes in the world. Essentially, they have a blend of socialism and capitalism.

They envision a corporate world making money, then distributing it to stockholders, where it is taxed.

It is true that wealth does often lead to greed and corruption. I watched a video last night on the fall of Enron, where its leaders became so obsessed with producing wealth that they became liars, cheats, and thieves that wiped out a lifetime of savings for tens of thousands of their believers and employees.

At the same time wealth is still the primary engine for most philanthropy in this country. Bill Gates was certainly motivated by a measure of greed, but in the process he also created a new science and tens of millions of jobs. And he has become the world’s largest philanthropist.

Even though the corporate world often produces corruption and evil, it is the engine which feeds the livelihood of our brightest, most talented youg people.

And there obviously is some trickle down, whether or not we are willing to admit it.

Many companies, perhaps most, have learned that social responsibility and better rewards for employees is good for business.

So just as we would be naive to believe anything good for business is good for all of us, we also may be naive if we think our lot in life could be improved with Robin Hoods like Castro and Chavez, stealing from the rich for needs of the poor.

Even ostentatious wealth produces jobs. The rich own most of the stock market, which creates the jobs launching today’s children.

The corporate world is not perfect. Neither am I. How about you?

A point to ponder

I was somewhat upset when the legislature legalized carrying a concealed weapon without a permit.

So were most of my friends. So when a police officer visited our Tuesday morning coffee hour, we asked him how he felt about it.

We know, he explained, that most of the bad guys will have weapons, no matter what the law is. But in one sense we have some comfort that it will be harder for the bad guys to know which of his potential victims might have a concealed gun.

Agree or not, it is an interesting perspective. Chicago still has the most restrictive gun laws and at the same time the country’s leading murder rate.