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[GreenYes] Re: The need for respectful diagreement / attitudes toward capitalistic economies
I have been observing the exchange between Muna Lakhani and David Wollner on
this list and offer the following comments:

1. I do not think it is appropriate for Muna (or anyone else for that
matter) to refer to the major political leaders of any country by any
appellation other than their proper names, even if you detest their
policies, as part of maintaining an atmosphere of respectful opposition.
Here in the U.S., even extremely vocal critics of Bush economic and policies
(Paul Krugman, a Princeton University economist who writes a column for the
NY Times comes immediately to mind) maintain a prefessional decorum in their
remarks and do not stoop to ridicule through sophomoric name calling.  If we
are to consider ourselves professionals then we must maintain a civil
exchange of ideas on this list.

2. I also often detect in many remarks to this list, such as Muna's below, a
simplistic, broad-brushed characterization of corporations and those who
lead them as mindless profiteers as the principal explanation for their
actions and policies.  I believe this characterization to be both untrue and
unhelpful. It is untrue because, for any corporation to succeed, it has to
have a valid business model, a rational plan for implementing that model and
an effective organization of resources to carry that plan out.  This is far
from mindless.  In particular, the American approach to corporate management
and strategy is now being emulated within the European Union, Japan and
other regions.  There are many who may not like (or even hate) this
development but it wouldn't be happening if this type of business
organization didn't work.

To view these organizations as immoral profiteers is unhelpful for two
reasons.  First, private companies are set up to make a profit.  That is how
private capitalistic enterprise works and there are enough people who like
this form of economic organization well enough that it is not going away for
quite a while.  Second, calling what private companies do immoral only
attests to our reactions to what they do.  It may emotionally or
rhetorically satisfying but deflects out attentions away from the real
issues and course of action that needs to be pursued.

The core problem is that modern, particularly American style, private
business has become too efficient and effective in delivering goods and
services to large populations based on what we of this discussion list
believe to be a non-sustainable production and distribution model.  There
are two principal courses of actions that can be considered.  First, replace
the current structure of the advanced economies, based on a mix of
democratic government  and captialistic enterprise, with some other economic
structure.  My short answer to that option is I don't think so.  The
historical track record of alternative economies has not been too good.  So,
I think we are left with the second option which is to figure out how to
route the current economic engine onto a different set of tracks, one that
hopefully runs to a sustainable future.  The key to doing that is not by
moralistic name-calling but by demonstrating how to "do well by doing good"
(the corporate motto of  Interface, Inc. - one of the biggest corporate
exponents of sustainable capitalism).  How that can be done and the
strategies we need to adopt to 093. that future happen is what we should be
discussing on this list.

Sincerely

Roger M. Guttentag
610-584-8836
rgutten@concentric.net

----- Original Message -----
From: Muna Lakhani <muna@iafrica.com>
To: David Wollner <davidw@bringrecycling.org>
Cc: Roger Guttentag <rgutten@concentric.net>; <greenyes@grrn.org>
Sent: Wednesday, January 16, 2002 1:56 AM
Subject: Re: [GreenYes] World Oil Peak / Carbohydrate Economy


> David Wollner wrote:
> >
> > Muna, I don't think that people are stuck in the mud so much as
> > they, at the encouragement of their leaders, are clinging to
> > outmoded ways of living (at the expense of the future). Consider
> > the recent statements by President Bush.
>
> Thank you for the input, David...
>
> I have a strange dichotomy in my head about the knowledge of corporate
> people - some seem to knowingly ignore anything that does not agree with
> their world view - others are so locked into the profiteering mode, that
> they often don't come across alternatives....
>
> Ignoring the fact that GW Shrub (may be called Bush when he matures!
> *grin*) appears to us as a person of ,limited intelligence, and seems no
> more than a puppet for the very fossilised fossil fuel industry, there
> are ways to make impacts on those who are "clinging" to the outmoded
> ways, based on fear and ignorance..
>
> for example:
> I have had good successes in "selling" Zero Waste to companies, but (my
> deceitful nature!) using the banner - Waste Minimisation; not only did
> they agree that they would face liabilities if they did not implement
> such a programme, but also got thinking about sustainability. So, even
> if the product cannot be considered truly sustainable, the waste and
> polution dropped 80%, and there is now an active search for more
> sustainable alternatives, as it has been seen very clearly that not
> using toxic material to begin with, will minimise the waste and
> pollution much more easily...
>
> yes, this is a simplistic report, but maybe it will encourage us all to
> know that a difference, and a change, can and must be made!
>
> take care all...
>
> Muna
>


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