Re: Perils of capitalism, Jan.28
To the Editor:
Any business activity, whether it involves the business and the customer, or the employer and the employee, constitutes a trade: a voluntary exchange between parties with mutual consent to mutual benefit. Since business only operates through trade, by definition, it is impossible for a business to oppress even one single individual, much less act as the "oppressor of millions of people worldwide" as indicated in Mr. Ruane's letter. Despite Mr. Ruane's unprincipled, emotionalist attack on big business, there is one crucial idea contained in his letter: the need to distinguish business from government.
I did not mean to intend in my letter that all businesses are honest, or that the existence of businesses, in and of themselves, are the creators of prosperity in any given society. The prosperity which results from business is not a primary; it is only a consequence of political freedom and it is guarded by the principle of individual rights. A right is a moral concept, derived from one's life as the standard of value, which subordinates society to the requirements of one's life as an individual human being. The one fundamental right the right to life and its derivatives the right to liberty, property and pursuit of happiness, are (or should be) protected by the government in order to form a rational concept of society.
When government becomes the violator and not the protector of individual rights, then do not expect anybody, including big business, to stay honest. Once you abandon the concept of individual rights, there is no standard of morality for anyone to adhere to, from big business to government to anyone in between; society deteriorates to a platform for force, coercion and exploitation, with big business being the number one scapegoat. Let us clearly distinguish between the looters and the producers and then we can finally respect our businessmen and executives, allow them to function properly and place them on the pedestal where they belong.