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Where are the morals in business? Adam Smith would not be happy!


Early economist assumed all had moral compass

“People suggest that Smith was all about self-interest and, therefore, a wholly unfettered, laissez-faire economy, consisting perhaps of “Rambo” capitalists….This version of Smith originates from his famous “Wealth of Nations,” which was published in 1776, 19 years after his first book, “The Theory of Moral Sentiments.””

I have been contemplating the notion that capitalism is fatally flawed without an ethical underpinning. Adam Smith presumed that this would always be present in his system outlined in Wealth of Nations. The absence of a moral sentiment [as outlined in The Theory of Moral Sentiments] creates an environment that we see emerging today. Perhaps the Enron scandal should have been “the shot heard round the world” in the world of political philosophy. In this scandal, a divorce between Adam Smith two essays took place. A new post Enron landscape emerged that valued pure capitalism without any ethical restraint. The latest reflection of this economic mutant thinking is the financial meltdown of 2006. The result is the same in both cases. Greed overtook an moral obligation to show restraint even in the face of extra profits. Without a moral compass, the gap between the oppressed and the powerful will continue to grow.

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