The Fabric of the World

The Fabric of the World

“Greed, fraud, dishonesty and arrogance, these are the words that best describe the reality of Wall Street today,” Sanders told supporters in midtown Manhattan. “To those on Wall Street who may be listening today, let me be very clear. Greed is not good. In fact, the greed of Wall Street and corporate America is destroying the fabric of our nation.”

Provided by the Sanders Campaign web site. jp
Provided by the Sanders Campaign web site. jp

These are the words of Bernie Sanders. You can find the full news article here at the guardian.

Sanders says that greed is “destroying the fabric of our nation.” But as a business ethics professional, I can tell you, greed in the form of unregulated capitalism is destroying the fabric of the world.

Over the past decade, the world has been subject to commercial attacks, an oil spill in the gulf that devastated an area larger than many states, fires related to palm oil production in Indonesia and other countries as large as dozens of American counties, dam failures in Brazil that released 60 million cubic meters of iron ore tailings into the water system, in Japan – radioactive contamination made several once thriving communities uninhabitable(1) and I can go on and on.

But let me close this litany of disaster with Volkswagen, the poster child for necessity of regulation with criminal penalties. Volkswagen inserted software in 11,000,000 cars designed to evade pollution controls by running one way under tests conditions and another on the road. There is no way that Volkswagen could have believed that they would never be caught. The pollution produced by an automobile is not always measured under test conditions. There had to be an underlying belief that the company is so well placed, so influential, employs so many people – that it will not be prosecuted and will get to keep most or all of the money.

As we have seen with the virtual non prosecution of General Motors in the United States, they may have good reason for that belief. Assessed a 900 million dollar fine after 124 deaths were traced to a below specs ignition switch, General Motors escaped criminal penalties in spite of having continued their wrong doing for 10 years after first detecting the problem.

Pure capitalism, unregulated greed, whether referred to as Neo-liberalism or free market fundamentalism is dissolving the fabric that binds us together as human beings.  It is not just an economic malady but a moral evil which must be addressed.

James Pilant

(1) In case, you wish to challenge me on the corporate responsibility for Fukushima and say it was a “natural” disaster – I would respond that building a nuclear reactor to an American design on low land near the coast on an earthquake fault in Japan is malfeasance.