Jack Welch the former Chair of GE and noted business author spoke recently about the the wrong direction the business community took over the last 20 years focusing primarily on the short-term benefit to the shareholder. He suggested that businesses should have also been focused on their product/service, employees and customers. Is this a novel idea? I remember thinking over the last few years how odd it was when the business reports came in that companies where so focused on whether their profits matched what was expected by “the street”. It seemed that the expectation was that every quarter had do be much better than the last or else the value of the shares would go done. Large corporation routinely lay-off employees to “make” their numbers for the quarter… to please the market. It’s all about fast money! What ever happened to strong, steady and safe? No, the value has to go up, up and further up. Until it comes down!
To talk about corporate greed is easy. I think it’s passing the buck. We are all greedy in this matter, because we all have investments, even the friars. Our retirement fund is invested in a portfolio. We want to get a good return too. I pray and hope that the instructions we give our brokers is not to constantly move things around getting the lastest and best returns. Whatever happened to good enough?
Another area where the same is true is airlines. I have had this conversation with a friar who prefers to travel to Buffalo and catch cheaper flights than out of Toronto. Certainly it’s possible to avoid the two-nation taxes that comes with an international fare. However, even if you take that into account, some of the fares in the US are just plain ridiculous. Fly from Buffalo to Baltimore for $59? The same is true now with Air Canada, flying to Montreal out of Toronto for $79. Don’t get me wrong, I like it and use it.. but does it makes no sense. If it’s too good to be true… it’s too good to be true? Eventually something’s going to give… and it’s not going to be pretty.
Another example of this consumer greed is the love/hate relationship we have with Walmart and other discount and dollar stores. These lower and lower prices… well they come at a price. How far can you squeeze a supplier before he or she cuts costs by abusing employees or risking our safety?
That’s my rant for the day. I look forward to B16’s new encyclical which I gather is supposed to address some of these issues. Pray for wisdom for the Holy Father, that his words may inspire us and change our hearts.