Saturday, March 21, 2009

Nuances and Good Vision

by Rich Kozlovich

Some time back a very good long time friend of mine accused me of not seeing the nuances of the issues we face. He stated; “You see things in strictly black and white. This one is an enemy, this one is a friend and there is no in between with you”. I told him that wasn’t true and that I actually understood the nuances and his comment was; “You think you understand them”.

Actually....., I think I understand them because I do understand them. I just don’t agree that we should have to constantly gray the facts and blur the truth while representing our industry.

• I believe that by accepting the nuances as truth we are actually accepting lies and publicity in place of facts and truth.
• I believe that when we do this we are giving aid and comfort to those that wish us ill.
• I believe that every time we give up something unnecessarily or inappropriately we are backing our industry into a wall.
• I believe that it is imperative that we recognize that we really do have enemies; that we must recognize them for what they are and deal with them accordingly.
• I believe that if everyone keeps turning reality into nuance, it becomes increasingly difficult to see reality and worse yet; to know what to do about it.
• I believe that it is important to understand the opposition’s views, but that doesn’t mean that I have to accept them. There is a difference between seeing the nuances and thinking that this is the way things should be.
• Aren’t nuances the shadow of substance? What reality do we face when we make the shadows real and the substance shadow?
• I believer that some things really are right and some things really are wrong.
• I believe the color gray is the same color as fog.

In my opinion there has never been a social phenomenon more nuanced than Corporate Social Responsibility. What exactly is Corporate Social Responsibility you ask? This link provides a good explanation of this business phenomenon. After following the link and reading the infromation; here are some points to ponder.

1. If CSR is being promoted because these ideas are so stupid they can’t be passed through the normal regulatory or statutory systems, why would anyone agree to them? What is the nuance here? Those who adopt CSR impositions don’t’ see the nuances.

2. If some businesses are embracing this concept so as to get a financial edge over their competitors, are they prepared for the unintended consequences that will appear long term? What is the nuance here? They will sell facts and truth to look good and make a few dollars more! They are totally unaware or uncaring about the long term consequences. In an attempt to look good to the public through publicity over this (in effect declaring that all others are irresponsible) are they selling their integrity for 12 pieces of silver?

3. If businesses feel they can use this publicity for the purpose of avoiding unpleasant regulations and joining with the “self-appointed representatives of "global civil society," are they destroying “the foundations of a free society”? What is the nuance here? “By obscuring the inherent conflict between individualism and collectivism, the doctrine of corporate social responsibility subverts the institutions of a free society. As these institutions—including private property, the modern corporation, and the free market—are the foundations upon which business depends, business leaders do a great disservice to their own interests—and ours—when they acquiesce to the demands of a Greenpeace or to the flatteries of the anti-capitalist intellectual class.” (I only wished I had said that myself. RK)

This leads me to ask some pointed questions.

1. Isn’t CSR actually irresponsible social behavior?

2. What if becomes socially responsible for corporations to demand the elimination of pesticides. Who will be responsible for the lives it will cost.

3. What if it becomes socially responsible to demand we all give up our property rights?

4. What if it becomes socially responsible to all accept a 30% hike in taxes so money becomes available for “the common good”? Who will decide what is the common good?

5. Has this socialist style mentality ever succeeded anywhere in the world? Has this socialist style mentality eliminated corruption or has it exacerbated it?

6. If you disagree with CSR, should it be okay if CSR activists picket you out of business. (this includes just about everyone in the activist community no matter what they call themselves.)

7. What happens when all responsibility for decision making is placed in the hands of these activists? Isn’t that what eventually happens when people use Neville Chamberlain’s “policy of appeasement”.

8. Does appeasement actually appease the activists or will it make them bolder and more demanding?

9. What if it becomes socially responsible to pay everyone twice a much? This actually happened in Russia after the Communists took over and they went broke.

10. Who decides how much people are to be paid?

11. What about the stockholders concerns for profit? Does this kind of action make someone liable for civil or criminal action if money is lost because the corporation flew off on some social crusade? What if the business goes under? If these kinds of actions cause someone to lose investment profits should the employee making these decisions be fired? Should investors like this kind of activity? Should stockholders concerns be ignored in place of appeasing activists? Should someone be arrested for misuse of company funds?

12. My final question is this. Are the chemical companies who manufacture pesticides part and parcel of all of this gamesmanship to the detriment of our industry?

Good questions, don’t you think? Actually I have one more question; does understanding nuances become a catch phrase that stands for the corruption of thought and action?

Oh....there is one more question to my good friend. Have I provided enough nuances for you, or do you think I missed something?

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