Last February, 2015, an instance in Columbus, Ohio prompted both sympathy and hatred. The episode involved a homeless couple on a frigid, snowy night. As the story was relayed on Addicting Info, a couple of good samaritans paid for three nights in a Super 8 motel for the homeless couple. But the motel has a rule requiring guests to be 21 or older. The homeless couple could produce no identification, so the motel evicted them. The article, Motel Sends Homeless Couple Out To The Frigid Cold, Despite The Fact That The Room Was Paid For, was posted to Facebook with the caption accompanying caption: “Another from heartless corporate America. I just hope this couple is okay.”
My wife Kathy wrote:
What happened to this couple is despicable, but do not blame all of corporate America. Many companies contribute much to charity and what many corporations produce make life better for the individual. That being said.....there is no excuse for the heartless way these people were treated. And kudos to the family who attempted to help them.
And received this reply from Shelley Caldwell:
Corporations exist for the bottom line. If they do good works, it's to keep the pitchforks and torches away. More harm is done by corporations than good.
I left this reply to Shelley:
What I see in your viewpoint and in the caption “Another from heartless corporate America” is a manifestation of bigotry—painting with a broad brush.
This episode is one isolated instance.
Yes, Shelley, business corporations exist for the bottom line. What other reason is there for them to exist? That is not the vice that you imply, however. It is a virtue—the essence of “good works.” Because what feeds the bottom line? Consumers who willingly buy the products and services corporations produce. Why do consumers buy? Because, by the consumers’ own judgement, what they buy betters their lives. What other reason is there to buy? This is the great moral nobility of business activity: Trade; win-win; business and consumer getting better together; production for profit.
Businessmen are the unsung heroes of the economy and of our historically wealthy standard of living. Aside from the occasional bad apple—who exist in all walks of life—businessmen/entrepreneurs across the economic scale are the exceptional individuals who step out from the crowd to take the risks, invest the capital, and organize the factors of production toward creating the products and services that our lives, well-being, and flourishing depend on. In the process, they create the jobs that enable self-responsible individuals to contribute to the productive process, earn money, and become consumers. They create the tax base that supports our government, schools, roads, etc.. Profitable business activity is the foundation that enables charity and provide the investment means for average folks to build savings for their kids’ education or their retirement. Businessmen accomplish this by mutually beneficial, mutually consensual voluntary trade and contract; and all toward a morally virtuous end—the same end that motivates workers and consumers—his own profit and self-interest. Successful capitalists have done more good for more people than any other population segment ever did or could. The proof is all around, for those with open eyes and minds. Yet, in our ever-more-morally twisted culture, they are increasingly the victims of a bigotry, exploitation, and persecution as virulent as any that has ever existed against any other minority.
My suggestion to “corporate America” haters: Exhibit integrity. Stop enabling what you judge to be corporate immorality. Stop buying their products or accepting their jobs. See how long you survive. Perhaps then you’ll grant business corporations the appreciation they deserve.
There are numerous bigoted anti-business comments in the thread. People are blind. "More harm is done by corporations than good?" I tell people, “Look around! You’ll see that almost everything your life and well-being depends on—from food to clothing to shelter to transportation to medicine to all manner of gadgets, from high tech to the mundane, that make our lives easier and more enjoyable—is the product of profit-seeking business. Take away the products of business, and your left with a hostile, untamed wilderness devoid of the values that make our lives livable. Then you’ll see what heartless really means; facing nature without businessmen. Are you looking around, Shelley Caldwell?
As Ayn Rand observed in “America’s Persecuted Minority: Big Business,”
Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, p. 44:
If a small group of men were always regarded as guilty, in any clash with any other group, regardless of the issues or circumstances involved, would you call it persecution? If this group were always made to pay for the sins, errors, or failures of any other group, would you call that persecution? If this group had to live under a silent reign of terror, under special laws, from which all other people were immune, laws which the accused could not grasp or define in advance and which the accuser could interpret in any way he pleased—would you call that persecution? If this group were penalized, not for its faults, but for its virtues, not for its incompetence, but for its ability, not for its failures, but for its achievements, and the greater the achievement, the greater the penalty—would you call that persecution?
If your answer is “yes”—then ask yourself what sort of monstrous injustice you are condoning, supporting, or perpetrating. That group is the American businessmen . . .
Every ugly, brutal aspect of injustice toward racial or religious minorities is being practiced toward businessmen.. . . Every movement that seeks to enslave a country, every dictatorship or potential dictatorship, needs some minority group as a scapegoat which it can blame for the nation’s troubles and use as a justification of its own demands for dictatorial powers. In Soviet Russia, the scapegoat was the bourgeoisie; in Nazi Germany, it was the Jewish people; in America, it is the businessmen.
Gladwell & Co.'s Monstrous Injustice Against Businessmen.—Ari Armstrong for The Objective Standard
Businessmen—The Ayn Rand Lexicon