Saving our Nation - Part VII
Freedom Speaks Column
Over the last six articles we have been discussing the seven things that Mahatma Gandhi said would destroy humanity, namely - (1) Politics Without Principles; (2) Pleasure Without Conscience; (3) Wealth Without Work; (4) Knowledge Without Character; (5) Business Without Morality; (6) Science Without Humanity; and (7) Worship Without Faith.
We have been discussing these "seven deadly sins" because they so aptly explain what has been happening in our country. Saving our nation will require us to reverse the entrenchment of these social sins and instead promote positive values and cultures. So far, we have discussed in some details the sins of Politics Without Power; Wealth Without Work; and Knowledge Without Character. Let us now discuss the social sin - Business Without Morality.
Business without morality means conducting business without ethics. It means doing business without concern of how the business may be harming individuals or the society. It is about making more money by any means possible.
Business is an extremely important activity in our modern way of life. It is the foundation on which prosperity is built. Imagine each household in a country trying to directly produce its own car, fuel, computer, electricity, water, food, shelter and clothing from scratch. Imagine the effort that would take!
Surely it would not be possible to enjoy modern living if everyone fended for themselves. But with specialization and division of labour, businesses produce goods and services much more efficiently than individuals could on their own.
Business is indispensable to our modern way of living. With evolving technology new business opportunities are created while some businesses may be destroyed. These are desirable processes that has contributed to improving the standard of living of mankind.
So too is competition which results in businesses always seeking to improve productivity in order to enhance competitiveness and hence profitability. Clearly, business should be about increasing the welfare of societies. But there must be an incentive for people to engage in business and earning a profit is that incentive.
It can broadly be concluded that engaging in business that turns a profit but that does not improve the welfare of a society is really unethical. But unfortunately, some who engage in business do not consider the wider societal role of their businesses - providing goods and services that uplifts a society; rather, they are influenced only by the profit motive. Consideration of the wider role of the business to uplift society comes from our moral values. But when some individuals who engage in business lose their moral compass, then they can engage in activities that harm society or that is unfair and unjust to those they engage with - customers, suppliers, employees.
There are many ways in which immoral and unethical business is done. I am sure we have seen many examples in our land. We can start with the examples of extremely harmful activities such as trafficking illegal and harmful recreational drugs, money laundering and human smuggling and trafficking, among other forms of organized crime.
Unfortunately, some persons in positions of authority in the government and the security forces may be engaging in and facilitating such activities and these are hurting our nation.
Dominica is being carefully watched by the nations who are harmed by our engagement in such activities. I want to appeal to those persons who may be involved in such illicit activities to desist and in so doing spare the nation the trouble that is to come.
Some other obvious unethical business practices may not be criminal, but they are certainly harmful, inhumane or unfair.
Take for instance, persons who engage in price gouging in the aftermath of natural disasters; those who sell inferior products to unwitting customers; those who cheat by giving false measurements or otherwise; and those who falsely represent their products.
I was recently told of a business in Dominica that deliberately holds customers' goods for longer than is necessary as part of a scam to overcharge for repairs. This is highly unethical and this must be stopped.
I have read some of the promotions of Dominica's Citizenship by Investment Programme and in some instances, I see false claims that I strongly suspect is deliberate. This is unethical!
Consider the auto renewal procedures with regards to internet phone access and cellular phone access packages sold by our communication service providers. Are they banking on customers forgetting to take the extra steps to terminate a plan so that customers may end up spending more money than they intended? If that is their intent, this is unethical.
The list of unethical business practices and examples can go on and on, but our nation needs to be re-inspired to go back to good moral values.
The Dominica Freedom Party stands ready to add our effort to that of other moral leaders to take our country back on that tract. If we build on such a foundation, our nation will do well.
The scriptures say - righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.
Kent Vital Political Leader Dominica Freedom Party