Monday, September 10, 2012

Business, Change, and Profit

I've said it before: change happens. The America I grew up in isn't the same country as the one I live in today. Some of the changes were, I think, improvements. Others, not so much.

On the other hand, some things haven't changed.

Roman Grandeur and Fast Food

Living in ancient Rome was quite a bit like living in a large city today. Folks ate fast food, some used a taxi service, and many lived in apartment buildings:
On the other hand, nobody would mistake 21st century Rome for the 1st century city.

(Dueduezerosettesettequattro, via Wikipedia, used w/o permission)
Part of the central business district, Rome.

Stealing Information: Faster, Easier; Still Wrong

When I was growing up, it was possible to make a copy of a book: for anyone with a print shop, and a lot of time. Then photocopying machines became part of everyday life.

As I recall, some publishers frantically tried to keep folks from using them. Instead, we got a few updates to copyright law. Today, intellectual property rights law and custom is catching up to what's possible with yesterday's information technology.

But publishing 'copyright' material was wrong a half-century back, and still is. Legally and ethically.

"The Future: Just Like Today - - -"

I remember when 'the future' was going to be just simply nifty: atomic cars; monorails and elevated highways everywhere; and art deco skyscrapers as far as the eye could see. A little later, science and technology were going to kill us all: after driving every cute animal on the planet to extinction.

I've been living in "the future" for quite a while now. What we got was 'none of the above.' I can't say that I'm disappointed.

Theft, Social Justice, and Natural Law

Theft was wrong before I was born, and still is. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2401)

Even when it's legal, or socially acceptable, unfairly taking what belongs to another person is wrong. (Catechism, 2402-2402)

The 'don't steal' principle extends to the treatment of animals and social justice: and that's another issue or two. (Catechism, 1928-1942, 2415-2436; "Mater et Magistra," John XXIII (May 15, 1961); "Encyclical Quadragesimo Anno," Pius XI (May 15, 1931); "Rerum Novarum," Leo XIII (May 15, 1891); Amos)

Some laws are arbitrary rules, made by human beings for our convenience or safety. For example, driving on the right side of the road is 'correct' here in America: but would likely get me killed if I tried it in a country where folks drive on the left side.

Some laws reflect natural law: an ethical order that's woven into this creation. Theft, murder, and lying, are wrong because they violate natural law. Laws like that can be officially ignored by human authority, but they're still there: and are as immune to legislative repeal as the law of gravity.

Ethics, Business, and a New View of Profit

The section of "Caritas in Veritate" I'm in now gets back to business ethics, and why 'business as usual' isn't a good idea.

It also looks at the old 'profit/non-profit' view of business - and why it's not enough to deal with an emerging social and economic reality:
"...This is not merely a matter of a 'third sector', but of a broad new composite reality embracing the private and public spheres, one which does not exclude profit, but instead considers it a means for achieving human and social ends...."
("Caritas in Veritate," 46)
The idea isn't that profit is wrong: just that profit is a means to an end, not an end in itself.

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.