THE TRUTH AS WE SEE IT: Captains of Industry

Posted by on June 4, 2012

Editor’s note: This blog is written by Richard Anderson, Business Program Chair, Minnesota School of Business-Shakopee. He welcomes student engagement and hopes this blog will elicit some responses.

Well, I was hoping to remain calm and rational at least for the first several blogs, but I guess as they say, “Be yourself. No one can ever tell you you’re doing it wrong.” So here goes.  I have had it!

I am tired of the constant attacks against Business, Wall Street, CEO’s of any
ilk, private equity managers, venture capitalist, angels, entrepreneurs, owners of businesses and any one that dreams of being successful in business.  Now this is not going to be a political assassination, because I don’t care if your Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, independent, blue, yellow, orange, male, female, alien, single celled or prehistoric – the facts are you are just plain wrong in attacking business.

I obviously am biased but, please, what rock did they crawl out from under to think the boogie man for all of our ills is business?  There are over 7.4 million businesses in the
USA today which employ 115 million people (us census bureau). Last I looked, that is everybody who is working (stay tuned for a future blog rant on unemployment) except for the 1.8 million who work for the Federal Government.  HOW MANY?  That’s right, 1.8 million! To plagiarize a sage, “have you ever seen anybody get a paying job from someone who is unemployed?”

So what are the terrible crimes committed by rulers of the universe, businesses, that bring upon it these constant maligns?

Reason #1: They only care about their shareholders.

Okay Business Students, question #1… What is the primary purpose of a business?  Got your answer? – Correct, it is to make profits so as to provide a positive return for the risk and investment of starting the business.  HOW CAN THAT BE RIGHT? You must be kidding!  Man, did I have it all wrong. I thought my purpose when I started my businesses was to lay off people, create unemployment, lose money, blow my savings and in general wreak havoc on the American way of life! So much for what I know!

Reason #2: Business, private equity managers, investors and anybody else that provide businesses funds to grow and develop are predatory vampires and fail to think about employees and full-employment.

Well, irrespective of your answer to question #1 above, we all really know that the real purpose of a business is to ensure that people get a job. Personally, I thought that was the
function of Government – hire, hire, hire. (Rremember the 1.8 million we are
paying for?) Side Bar: When I was born in 1900, there were less than 175k Federal employees. Clearly, “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate” Wouldn’t it be terrific if businesses hired for the sake of the better good of all…oh wait…that’s communism and we know how well that has worked out, right, Economic Students? Of course we could tax the snot out of all the rich business people so we could hire more people. Tax accountant students you can jump in now. Yea, like poor people are hiring a ton of folks.

Reason #3: Business people are bad people. They’re greedy, cheats, killers, unethical and just plain slimy.

Yup, some are.  As we learn in ethics, there are bad people everywhere. Ever hear of O. J. Simpson (I still say innocent), Tonya Harding (lead pipe queen), Richard Hatch (survived to defraud the tax man),  Dr. Harold Shipman (serial killer physician – last count 495), Mary Kay Letourneau (teacher repeat pedophile), Richard Nixon (not a crook) and lest we
forget Pedro Alonso Lopez (“Monster of the Andes”– Body count: 300+).  Thucydides said the source of evil was “a thirst of power, from rapacious and ambitious passions” (For those that don’t go to Minnesota School of Business, he was the Greek father of the school of political realism).  Evil unfortunately is everywhere.  Business does not have a monopoly on it. Statistically, studies have shown that business people are actually more ethical, honorable and just nice people (that’s my one normative statement for this blog), then
any other profession, including religion (Do the Crusades ring a bell?). We also learn
that you can be incredibly successful and still be ethical, honorable and care
about your community. It happens every day!

Reason #4: The whole notion of earned success being somehow bad and obviously gained by trickery not hard work, passion and focus.

Okay Entrepreneurial Students you can take this one!  Seriously!! According to CIO Magazine, 65% of executives put in more than 55 hours a week. That’s one of the reasons I have a golf handicap of 60.  My own sister use to ask me, so what do you really do to make your money? I always told her – sell body parts!  On some level I think she actually believed me since she would always send me articles on the horrors of prison life.

So, let’s just agree, Students, the term “Captains of Industry” (which was used during the Industrial Revolution to describe a business leader whose means of amassing a personal fortune contributes positively to the country in some way) is still true today!   Beam me up, Scotty!


Thank you for your Interest in Minnesota School of Business.