Social Economics: Premises, Findings and Policies

By Edward J.O'Boyle | Go to book overview
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10

THE CIVIL WORLD OF BUSINESS

Evolving systems of social accountability

Severyn T. Bruyn

The collapse of socialist states has sent a message to the world that socialism has lost and capitalism has won the battle of this century. It appears that capitalism is the wave of the future for all nations. But students of capitalism and people who are hurt by it say that the system is seriously flawed and its future is in doubt. There is not only a downside to capitalism but a self-destructive side as well. It produces major social problems with too few alternatives within the system for correcting them. Governments continue to grow in an attempt to solve these problems through regulatory agencies and monitoring systems. In the process, governments become command bureaucracies, oppressive in themselves. There is no social vision that could turn capitalism into a system of self-regulation and social justice.

The poor today are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer. From 1977 to 1990, the pre-tax earnings of the poorest one-fifth of Americans fell by 5 percent and the earnings of the richest one fifth rose by 9 percent. Drugs and crime grow on city streets as community life is destroyed. The number of homeless people and the number of people in prisons keep growing. Environmental damage is mounting. Nuclear power plants continue to produce dangerous and intractable wastes. Global corporations can make the world an even more dangerous place to live in this age of nuclear and chemical weapons (Reich 1991).

Business scholars look for ways in which markets can be more responsibly organized, but they say it requires a local-to-global vision. People who have been disenfranchised argue that it is time to create a system in which they are real participants. Political leaders argue that business associations must help set standards in the national interest. Leaders in developing nations call for a system that can operate more justly and fairly on their behalf. Economists argue that a system must be created that works in the public interest and eventually for the common good.

My question is: How are people creating systems of accountability which help solve problems of dominance and exploitation in business? We shall see that systems are evolving at local to global levels but problems must be resolved to make them work more effectively in the public interest.

-145-

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