Found 2 comments on HN
_delirium · 2012-06-09 · Original thread
Since he was one of the contributors to Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (1966, http://www.amazon.com/dp/0451147952), one of the more influential laissez-faire manifestos of the late 20th century, I think it's fair to say that he was an advocate of laissez-faire economics during at least a portion of his life.
relic17 · 2011-01-10 · Original thread
I agree with many of your points. However, note that Professor Porter does not technically propose socialism. Socialism would imply seizing private property, such as part of a company's assets, for the alleged purpose of using them to further the "public good" or satisfy "social needs", something a company would not do by itself. Note that prof. Porter does not even advocate increasing government regulation to channel more resources into social purposes. Actually, he does not even say that companies must of should take losses in order to help societal needs. His argument is that businessmen should look for opportunities in markets he chooses to call socially useful. In essence, he urges managers to make decisions that would make proper business sense anyways. Therefore, I can only speculate as to why he formulates the empty concept of "shared value." It is possible that he wants to create another framework to fill business schools' curricula (they have to teach something that sounds scientific) or to reassure himself that he is still relevant by taking a safe undefined middle-ground between "big business" and "society." I can only guess.

The sad thing, however, is that the major premise of his philosophy will prove more damaging to capitalism (which he so passionately professes to defend) than most socialist ideas would. That premise is the notion that capitalism, or whatever remains from it in the mixed world economy of today, is fundamentally broken. That even those businessmen who thrive (or survive) by their own ability and productive effort are fundamentally guilty of looking after their own interest. They are guilty by popular opinion and have to find a way to exonerate themselves.

I urge all HN readers who have read the article carefully and understand that there is something wrong about it, to also read Ayn Rand's "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal" (http://www.amazon.com/Capitalism-Ideal-Ayn-Rand/dp/045114795...) and judge for themselves dispassionately. Just because I happened to be reading the book today, I quote a couple of paragraphs, with which I agree:

"I [Ayn Rand] want to stress that our [objectivists'] primary interest is not politics or economics as such, but "man's nature and man's relationship to existence" - and that we advocate capitalism because it is the only system geared to the life of a rational being. In this respect, there is fundamental difference between our approach and that of capitalism's classical defenders and modern apologists. With very few exceptions, they are responsible - by default - for capitalism's destruction. The default consisted of their inability to fight the battle where it had to be fought: on moral-philosophical grounds."

"There are the businessmen who spend fortunes on ideological ads, allegedly in defense of capitalism, which assure the public that all but a tiny fraction of an industry's income goes to labor (wages), to government (taxes), etc., with these shares represented as big chunks in full-color process, and, lost among them, an apologetic little sliver is marked "2 1/2 percent" and labelled "profits."

"There is the display of charts and models, in a hallway of the New York Stock Exchange, presenting the achievements of free enterprise and captioned: "The People's Capitalism."

"Since none of these attempts can succeed in disguising the nature of capitalism nor in degrading it to the level of an altruistic stockyard, their sole result is to convince the public that capitalism hides some evil secret which imbues its alleged defenders with such an aura of abject guilt and hypocrisy. But, in fact, the secret they are struggling to hide is capitalism's essence and greatest virtue: that it is a system based on the recognition of individual rights - on man's rights to exist (and to work) for his own sake - not for the altruistic view of man as a sacrificial animal. Thus it is capitalism's virtue that the public is urged - by such defenders - to regard as evil, and it is altruism that all their efforts help to reinforce and reaffirm as the standard of the good."

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