Economic ethics PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 04 September 2011 14:35

In the course of his four-day trip to lead the World Youth Day celebrations in Spain the other week, Pope Benedict XVI called on business and industry throughout the world to  put the common good of people ahead of profit-making. 

“The economy cannot function only with mercantile self-regulation but needs an ethical reason in order to work for man,” he said.
In fact, in the face of current and very serious economic woes in most countries, the Pope is joined by many, many similar calls for reforms in the global economy.  There is almost unanimous agreement among political and business giants for the need to revamp if not replace the US dollar as international currency reserve; but there are proposals too for more fundamental changes like making cooperatives the leading investors so as to take away huge profits from the small minority of money-hoarding tycoons.  Others are calling for heavier taxes for the rich to redistribute society’s wealth more equitably.

One other proposal coming from Harvard University’ business school urges businesses to re-orient their mission by attuning themselves towards social enterpreneurship while generating profit.  The idea is to make their products and services highly beneficial to people, communities, or the environment and still make money – but efficiently and altruistically.

Many who believe they know about the workings of the world better than most may consider such idealism as quixotic or utopian.  But utopian dreams, once they take sufficient hold of imagination, are what precisely brings about change even if the final results are oftentimes not what were originally envisioned. 

Some 30,000 laborers of sardines factories in the city are presently facing the prospects of going hungry for a few months towards the end of the year.  The factories will shut down because of a government-ordered moratorium on sardines fishing to allow the fish to spawn and increase their stock in the wild.  However, neither the factory owners nor government is providing adequate safety nets to bridge the economic situation of the apprehensive workers during the shutdown period.  Profit and not people is the sole concern and interest of the factory owners, and government is too slow to level the socio-economic playing field.   This situation, where laborers get the short end of the bargain most of the time, is the norm in time-worn capitalist systems like our country’s.

Religious leaders both Christian and Muslim can join the Pope in urging for economic and business reforms, which can start in local levels.  Resistance to reforms from within government or business will never compromise or weaken these religious leaders’ standing in the local community, even if and when they fail to win.   On the contrary, indifference or tolerance of injustice will undermine the faithfuls’ beliefs and their relationships with their faith leaders or institutions, as what had happened in Europe in the course of the past century’s two world wars.

PNoy’s government is now investing more and more in social services and agriculture, the sector with the highest number of poor people.  But this is not making the more knowledgeable or concerned experts and scholars happy enough because they fail to see any real fundamental policy and program reforms being introduced by PNoy to lift the poor out of poverty for good. — Peace Advocates Zamboanga