March 10, 2004

Prejudice Against Business

Tibor Machan on the bias against business and commerce:

Everyone knows that there will be bad apples in any profession. And where the press is concerned, everyone accepts that such bad apples must be reprimanded from within and the government is required to stay out of whatever mess happens to occur there. (Where were all the calls for Congressional oversight of magazines when The New Republic unleashed more than two dozen phony news articles on its readership? How about when The New York Times published a bunch of rubbish recently from one of its star reporters?)

What this shows is that when folks come down on business, it has far less to do with actual misconduct than with rank prejudice: Making money itself is the target, striving for prosperity, unabashedly as people do in commerce, is what is being attacked. Never mind the particulars-­they only serve to make the prejudice somewhat palatable.

Of course, this is nothing new-­commerce and business has been demeaned in most of human history, by philosophers, theologians, politicians, psychologists, sociologists and, of course, artists. Since these folks dominate the forums of ideas, while those in the business community are attending to, well, business, there is little chance that there will ever be fairness about the merits of commerce in human communities. But perhaps some of us can make the effort to point out that the mere dominance of such prejudice doesn’t render it the right stuff.