Greed begets greed, I told my coworkers the other day.
This comment came in the midst of a discussion about the failed attempt to break the Superbowl attendance record in Cowboys Stadium last weekend. In their efforts to build an attendance high enough to reach the heavens, God manifested in the form of inspectors that found the additional seating did not pass safety standards. The Tower of Babel that collapsed under the weight of the hubris of Jerry Jones and the NFL resulted in seriously disgruntled fans that were turned away and are demanding to be recompensed.
It seems that decisions which are designed to elevate the ego or inflate financial gains can never sustain themselves for long. Inevitably the compulsion that fuels gluttony and avarice eventually turns about face to begin devouring itself through its insatiable appetite, unfortunately leaving hapless victims in its wake of destruction.
Invariably the residents of the liberal landscape who shake their fists at the shareholders who live by the slogan of “More, more, more!” demand legislation and regulations that attempt to choke out the weeds of greed. Their war cries carry the theme that these offenders are far too myopic in their hunger for excess to be able to make socially responsible decisions, that corporate ethics is an oxymoron, that these beasts will consume everything in sight if they are not caged and controlled through laws that protect the consumers and innocent bystanders. On the other side of the line are those who hold interest in the machines that generate profit, insisting that a cordoning off of their ability to conduct business in what is supposed to be considered a free enterprise market is undermining the very fabric of what has made this country and its citizens therein prosperous and successful.
In the middle of this tug-of-war, wallowing in the mud over which the flag on the rope hangs are the consumers. I will make sure to raise my hand and be counted among this lot. As I illustrated in my post on institutions in reflection, we often blame the corporations for forcing exorbitant costs onto us with one hand and with the other hand we slide our credit cards in their direction. We insist that the government force their hand to make ethical decisions so we don’t have to sacrifice our own comforts as a result of standing by our own convictions. How many sports fans that gripe about players’ and owners’ salaries are willing to stop watching the games? How many of us that blame the flailing economy on corporations that employ cheap overseas labor continue to buy the lowest priced item?
Perhaps we need to coax rather than threaten. Perhaps instead of spending so much energy creating legislature that penalizes individuals and corporations for decisions that are detrimental to the greater good, we need to provide incentives for companies to make decisions that benefit the consumers? I mean benefits that extend beyond satisfying the gaping maw of insatiability of our hunger for instant gratification and the illusion of making things “easier”. My hope is that as the benefits of taking positive actions for the greater good proves to actually provide a greater benefit to the companies, corporations and industries will see that positive contributions are mutually beneficial and even more profitable in the long run by creating brand loyalty as well as consumer trust and confidence, leading to sustainability and longevity for the companies taking these measures.
This of course is nothing that can happen overnight, but longevity cannot be determined in the short game anyway. Only the test of time can offer this proof. It is my firm belief that taking actions that benefit the community as a whole- even at a minor reduction in profitability- will prove to corporations that it is in their own best interest to serve the interests of the consumers overall, beyond simply peddling a product or service. Positive actions have never proven to be at the detriment of those that engage in them, except perhaps from the myopic perspective of avarice.