How long can firms and leaders give us all the mushroom treatment?

February 16, 2010

You all the know the coda of the mushroom treatment, don’t you – keep you in the dark and feed you shit! The raises the multi hydra question; can morality and business go together? Does the calculus of supply and demand need to squeeze out the good? Why can’t the good be retained? Is the sole function of firms only to deliver value to their shareholders? At what price does this come to people and planet?

Choose you favourite bug bear everything from skyrocketing HDB prices to which fortune 500 company you’re going to plumb to buy is good to go – but the question stands:

Do morals and trade and commerce go together – or are they diametrically opposites? Against the carnage of the current economic landscape; where we are witnessing firms which once epitomise the gold standard of “best practice” turning turtle; all the skeletons seem to be jumping out from the closet like demented Jack in the boxes – it’s a fiery debate that takes in everything from whether fat cat corporate honcho’s deserve their creamy bonuses to whether it’s morally right to even buy a Persian rug which was probably made by a kid chained to some loom in Kashmir.

I am not saying we are all suddenly transformed into- angels; we still step on bugs, spray roaches along with nuke off entire colonies of living things whenever we built a condo; only if one really cares to tease out the nuances these days what’s becoming clear to me is a growing sense of awareness – that the free market can no longer be trusted to deliver the goods and yet reconcile the hubris between good and evil. I wouldn’t go so far to term this collective consciousness as solidarity, rather it’s an affirmation that what’s needed these days; from Singapore, Mumbai to New York is a code of conduct over and above rules, regulations, and laws that all economic players must adhere too.

You don’t have to rocket scientist to figure out firms like UBS, that used to be the preferred bank for bent dictators, crooked businessman et al are increasing finding themselves in the hot seat when it comes to questions of following a higher moral code. IMHO they are finished. The business model is broken, but what did you expect from a bank that used to trade with the likes of Adolf Hitler? Whose headquartered in a country where their greatest invention just happens to be a cuckoo clock –they’re done for! Kaput.

Having said some firms are just plain evil; others who are equally morally questionable aren’t so easy to finger, take the tobacco firm Altria, the company behind brands like Marlboro. While the company isn’t doing anything legally wrong, technically, at least – its sole business is selling products that are known to be addictive and cancerous. But they get away with it why? Because they sponsor the Boshoi theatre; they hold art exhibitions and that simply means; the line between evil and good is blurred.

Another Darth Vader type firm is McDonalds; and I speak from first hand knowledge here; during my averagely miserable university days; I had a taste of the glorious life of the battery chicken; work can be edifying, nourishing even; but when it comes to the golden arches – its purgatory – Darkness why are you standing still? Do this! Go there! Turn left, right, jump that hoop – the straw that broke the camel’s back was when I even had to put up my hand for urination breaks – finally, they got so sick and tired of me; they dressed me up as Ronald McDonalds and during my lunch break I was spotted by a pesky kid who reported to supervisor – “I saw Ronald drinking beer in the pub and pool sharking.” (what was I to do? For fuck sake, it took me nearly 40 minutes to get those canoe sized shoes to fit and I only had a 20 min break.) After that I was promptly booted out – my next job was bliss; I got a job in the morgue in Charing Cross – that sorted out those pesky customer complaints for good.

My point this afternoon is simply this: if morality and good business sense is going to go hand in hand; then it has to respect people – I dread the day; when pineappled eyed supervisors can track the movement of every worker with technology – that can’t be morally right; gone are those sweet respites where one could just slip away for a puff or just decide to go for a quickie with one of those astonishingly beautiful co-workers – nope under the guise of higher productivity and work smarter what we will probably see is something closer to the panoptical dystopian nighmare of an Orwellian state – where not only is every worker under constant scrutiny, but they will have to work so hard and fast that the whole idea of a job as something nourishing, edifying and enjoyable will simply fritter away.

That well and fine; but what really irks me – is how disconnected this new mantra is to what’s currently seen in the corridors of power where for instance: financial juggernauts like Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and some local firms and institutions, I rather not mention seem to be going to the other way; by not only awarding themselves massive salaries along with conveniently absolving themselves of all blame for the mess they all got us into in the first place.

As I said, the accounts just doesn’t square off. Neither do I buy into that claptrap, just because everyone is doing it mean it’s OK! It’s not, it just another way of saying: you don’t give a shit!

And that’s simply the cue for me to wipe you clean off from my investment portfolio and vote with my wallet to put my money elsewhere; my gut feel tells me – as consumers begin to reclaim their rights along with junking their traditional mindset of what really makes up the guts of organizational and personal success – evil firms are going to end up in the hottest place in hell!

The writing is already on the wall, it even has a laconic ring to it, “enough is enough!”– don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Darkness 2010

“There is definitely a law against tax evasion; and its a serious offence; but there is no law against beating the system to pay less tax; that’s perfectly legal – besides, can anyone here tell me whether currency in circulation the  standard Shekelian or Imperium that is minted by the Confederation is like the US dollar or Sterling?

Silence….come, come Gentlemen…. So what we have here Gentlemen is monopoly money – it will take them some time to figure out how it all goes the full circle before it’s transmuted to the real stuff – for the time being; its alchemy to them; hocus pocus – they haven’t figured out the entire transactable value in the virtual for one earth year is equal to the entire GDP of Russia – they dont think the internet is good for anything except spreading the cult of perpetual masturbation, disinformation and lies – that’s good– Gentlemen, it just means one thing – they don’t even know how or where even to connect the dots – they don’t even know where to begin. Once they figure that part out….we should worry…as it is, this is a sterile debate Gentlemen. I move for a motion to set aside this question, it is a matter of profound indifference to the issue at hand.”

Kadjal 2008 / Liaison Officer of the Saffron Route – conversation with the Interspacing Mercantile Guild held in the great hall at Primus Aldentes Prime / recorded by the Chronicler in the Book of Ages – codex: 837849094 ED – The Brotherhood Press 2010.

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