Contempt of Business?

In a recent review of one of my books, the reviewer stated that, for a “United Statesman,” I was remarkably contemptuous of business. The reviewer was not an American, obviously, and his views suggest that outsiders believe that Americans are far too pro-business, and that I’m an exception. Yet, I have to say that I never thought of myself as being contemptuous of business in general. Certainly, I’ve been contemptuous of certain sectors, such as finance and mortgage banking and Walmart-style corporations that exploit part-time workers, but corporations and businesses come in all flavors and types, ranging from those on which no amount of contempt would be sufficient to describe their actions to those who act in the manner one would hope all businesses and corporations might.

The problem is, in dealing with business, those meriting contempt and/or regulatory/legal actions to rein in their corrupt and self-dealing excesses are also the most visible, just as the most corrupt and violent individuals are often the most visible. In addition, often unethical or excessively self-serving acts are legal under existing law, which also points out the fact that law can only do so much, and usually does less because of the pressure on lawmakers by those businesses with great resources.

As I’ve stated before, I believe that no truly viable society can long exist without an economy based on at least some form of market economy, but in our world market economies come in all varieties and operate under differing cultural and social constraints. In some countries, the government controls tightly just what aspects of the market are permitted to operate and how. In others, it appears that business can’t be done without some form of bribery, and bribery is a part of their market economies.

Most western industrialized economies either frown on wide-scale direct bribery or theoretically outlaw it, but in the United States we pretty much turn a blind eye away from campaign contributions, which often have operated as either slush funds or deferred retirement accounts for elected officials, meaning that such contributions were nothing more than bribery one step removed. In any case, corporate involvement in the political system has become a larger and larger part of the market economy, simply because the political system sets the rules under which business operates.

And yes, I am contemptuous of those businesses and businesses who attempt to use political influence to tilt the economic playing field in their favor. But then, shouldn’t all of us be contemptuous of that sort of behavior, whether it’s “legal” or not?

5 thoughts on “Contempt of Business?”

  1. Michael says:

    Which book was being reviewed? I’m racking my brain trying to think of one that would cause that kind of reaction.

  2. kevinT says:

    I linked to this blog entry page from the “book” page of The Green Progression. I had thought I was navigating to a page with blog entries with The Green Progression as their topic. I was certainly surprised to see a blog post written today about a novel published almost 20 years ago.


    After I realized my mistake, it occurred to me that today’s blog entry seemed to fit one of the themes of The Green Progression to a “T”–at least, the part about corporate and political ethical abuses. This wasn’t particularly surprising, since ethical considerations seem to be central to most (all?) of your books’ storylines.

    I’m not so sure why a reviewer of Madness in Solidar would focus on your (perceived) contempt for business. Although the factors depicted in the story may not be ethically perfect, it seems to me that the bigger offenders by far were the rex, certain military leaders, and the high holders–as well as couple of less ethical imagers.

    Anyway, thanks for continuing to write Imager Portfolio and Recluce stories. I look forward to each new novel.

    As for The Green Progression…it wasn’t exactly my favorite of your novels, but I did finish it. It was interesting to see Washington DC “business as usual” depicted pretty much as I suspected it actually is, particularly in the area of environmental regulation. I would be interested in learning how many of the international and domestic conspiratorial aspects of the tale were speculative and how many came from your personal observations.

    1. The international conspiracies were speculative; the domestic ones were a mixture of pure speculation and fictionalization of events that had happened or were happening.

  3. Wine Guy says:

    Perhaps it wasn’t you in particular. It sounds like the author of the review was holding all of us who are “United Statesmen” as viewing business up as god – or at least as a worthy avatar of the great god Money. Right up there with shooting each other with reckless abandon, being relentlessly extroverted, and

    As a parenthetical comment, I admit that I prefer to be called a “US citizen.” “American” – seemingly what most people prefer – is too generic, since I could either be Canadian or Mexican or a US citizen.

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