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E-M:/ RE Cubbage comments on corporate responsibility



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Enviro-Mich message from "Don Brown" <dbrown@kalnet.net>
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Chuck, as usual, has made good points based on his first hand experiences 
with government and business operations. One could go further. Corporations
EXIST in this country as entities chartered by "the state". As such they
have rights somewhat akin to people, among them the right to sue and be
sued, and the right to be treated as a legal entity. What we too frequently
omit from consideration is the parallel attribute of "personhood" , namely
responsible behavior. One element of that is the sort of Responsible Care
program Chuck describes with regard to the chemical industry. We have every
right as a society to require of the entities that we allow to exist
(incorporate under the laws of our state) that they conduct their business
responsibly. What we largely have lacked is the economic and political will
to make that responsibility clear to companies. Corporate responsibility is
not only to the "bottom line" or to maximization of shareholder profit. We,
as a society, have set our expectations of corporate behavior much too low.
We have too often accepted the rhetoric that regulation and taxation are bad
things to be minimized or eliminated. They are not; they are tools to keep
our collective behavior in line with our shared view of civil society. Very
recent history amply demonstrates that at least some companies are not
living up to the social contract most of us accept. We need to be more
assertive in declaring that it is not acceptable to "externalize" the
legitimate costs of doing business in order to maximize the botttom line
while transfering the environmental and health costs to society as a whole.
Businesses can prosper in this country as can its individual citizens. But
BOTH can prosper only to the extent that they behave responsibly and
sustainably, in my opinion.   


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