A Brief Look on the State of Business Ethics: Part II

A “hands off” approach to economics is like the idea of a utopia. In a utopia, people do not need laws because they are compelled to do good. It is common belief that a utopia does not work because without checks, without laws people will side to unethical behavior. Corporations are no different. Our present situation in the business world is evidence enough that capitalism does not work, and at our current path, it will only get worst. Too often we hear of the atrocities corporations commit. The most shocking are the pharmaceutical companies.

If given the choice between saving lives or profits, pharmaceutical companies will often choose profit. There is a clear conflict of interest for them. Pharmaceutical companies will charge an outrageous amount for drugs that people need, and, even worse, they do not spend that money in research but rather to further their goals. They can do this because they control most medical opinions and they limit the option of genetic drugs. The three most profitable drugs to research are pills like Viagra, hair loss pills, and diet pills. These drugs will not save anyone’s life. The money spent on this research could have been used for a cure for cancer or for AIDS.

The problem is that there is no competition, which is essential for the checks against unlimited leverage. Corporations work feverishly to be the sole player in a market and are completely paranoid to maintain it. It is, without a doubt, that this type of monopoly benefits no one but the monopolist. Once pharmaceutical companies control all the necessary patents and have enough cash, they will get the coveted, unlimited leverage. They can bribe the right people to get the medical reports in their favor and pressure others to retract undesirable opinions. Also, it is possible for them to pressure whole countries’ governments to cooperate and not to do anything that challenges their unchecked control, like limiting generic drugs. Governments’ decisions should reflect the will of the people, not the corporations. If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

Profit at the cost of people’s lives is wholly unethical. We should not just accept the corporation’s doings as fact of life. Corporations’ only goal should not be profit, especially on the necessities of life. Their unethical behavior has to be exposed, and perhaps they will be pressured to change.

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