Whole Health Management is a company that manages on-site primary care and fitness centers for dozens of corporations. On-Site health care clinics are a growing phenomenon for medium to larger companies as shown in this CNBC video from the Whole Health Management website. According to an article in the Washington Post the convenience of the clinics increases demand and not only gives direct savings in health care costs, but helps eliminate lost work time because a cold does not turn into bronchitis or high blood pressure does not turn into a stroke and so forth. Even a company with only 1500 workers and having a workforce that was considered young was able to save $1000 per employee in the first year.
The more I look for companies to work for the more I see a divergence between companies that treat employees as assets and others that treat employees as an expense. If an employer is going to have to pay for the new engine in the end, would it not be beneficial to pay for and make sure there were regular check-ups?
The first is that capitalism makes the fruits of individual labor available to the masses, and thus makes life better for all invovled. Is this the true purpose of capitalism? Is this the reason why we choose to participate in this economic system?
Second, is capitialism is as moral as it could be? Do some do without while others thrive? Is it moral for the government to regulate the incomes of private citizens and redistribute their "surplus"?
Lastly, Rich quotes the real Adam Smith's definition of self-interest (the reason why capitialism works) from his book "The Wealth of Nations",
"It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to theor own interest."
Rich points out that Smith felt that self-interest is the psychological need to win favor within one's society. He goes on to conclude that self-interest and moral sentiments are the same thing. Therefore, at least, capitalism by definition is moral. Do you agree or disagree with these arguments? Can we count on the need of other's to succeed to be the moral fiber in capitalism? Can we count on the government to level the playing field by means of distribution of income surplus? Can we trust politicians to carry out on their promises to do so once voted into office? If not, how can we ensure that our system is moral? What free-market economic principles teach us the value of morals in capitalism? Does capitalism even need morals?
I personally feel that the author is correct in many of his assumptions, and that we cannot count on the system to be moral, we must count on the people invovled in the system. What do you guys think about some of these questions?
For more topics by Rich Karlgaard.
The government has subsidized the hybrid car industry to increase the demand of a product that they saw as beneficial to the environment in more ways then one. Is this going to be the only reason that the subsidy will continue or is there going to be another strong armed reason?
To get funding to prosecute death-penalty cases, counties have higher taxes then counties that do not have death-penalty cases. There is also a worry on the other end that counties which do not have death-penalty cases are downgrading cases to avoid the high costs.
Most will argue that it is money and power that drives CEOs, but I think most overlook the most important motivator: the rush that comes from winning. I’m mean let’s face it if you are worth over a hundred million money can no longer be a real motivator, at least not for most people. Why does Michael Schumacher, formula one driver, keep putting his life on the line? Why do top athletes keep putting in so much effort? Everyone knows it’s not the money but their need for victory. Why would this be any different for CEOs.
Beating the crap out of the competition, being a rival business, another racing team, or the world number one track runner, that’s what drives these people. They are the best of the best and the only thing that matters to them is becoming the best they can be. Of coarse the pay also plays a role but it’s not the only thing that drives them.
In today’s hyper competitive business world a lot of corpses are left behind on the battlefield. Executive turnover is spiraling out of control and corporate scandals are becoming a daily phenomenon. That is the risk CEOs have to take and that is why I think there is nothing wrong with paying them enormous salaries. Of coarse it is crucial to link pay to performance, but corporations will have to keep increasing pay if they want to get the top performing CEOs. The next question is: How do we define performance?
(see http://www.shrm.org/government/insider_published/CMS_020269.asp#P41_9110) This act would provide universal, private health insurance for all Americans. The bill would eliminate the current employer-based system and put individuals in charge of their own medical/health care. Another benefit in this act is that all would be accepted regardless of their medical wellness and regardless of prior existing conditions. There would be subsidies for low income families and tax deductions. However, it is also mandating that ALL Americans obtain coverage (and we all know how we feel about being told what to do by big brother.) The economic feasibility of only offering two medical programs to cover the entire United States and the logistics are not spelled out in this Act. While I am not sure that I agree with all facets of this particular Act, I do know that change is needed. Recent article in business journals and newspapers indicate the growing trend for employees to enter the work force not for an additional paycheck but for insurance coverage and other employees not being able to advance in their fields because they can't switch insurance companies (based on what the new employer would offer) because of pre-existing conditions is ludicrous. While this particular bill may not be the 'best' answer, I am relieved that it will at least generate more discussion in congress on the matter.
The article gives many examples of why starting a business in China can be good and bad. It seems to me that it would take alot of work. It is true that many companies want to go there to cut down cost, but is it worth it? If a company is to relocate to China or any other country for that matter, they must develop and follow a plan. The article talked about gaining the trust of government officials, get to know the culture, and be productive. The Chinese Government is right with being choosey on enters. Those who don't do this won't last. The only focus of a company shouldn't be to enter a country becuase it cost and you can pay the workers less, but more to make an impact on the culture. Help a struggling economy maybe? Companies need to show the respect neccessary, and not exploit workers by making cheaper, less quality products for a higher profit. I don't know, what does everyone think?
In the archives of the magazine Rock & Ice , the September 2004 issue Ron Olecsky presents the question, what is the value of intellectual property for rock climbing routes? Olevsky claims that climbing routes are intellectual property of the people that created them and that guidebook authors need to share the rewards with those who put up the routes.
Rock Climbing, a common sport in Southern Utah brings many enthusiasts from around the world. Some are individuals that take part in first ascents, and others come to follow the path of others. For both, guide books and internet web sites are a necessity for many reasons, not the least being safety. Each climber that makes a first ascent has knowledge that no other person has. The author of a guide book takes this information and makes a profit. Should they not share the profit with the individuals they recieved information from? Rock climbing is mostly done on public lands, which leads to the another question if the author of a guidebook has to pay the climber that made the first ascent of a climb, should they also have to pay the government for writing a book that includes a climb on public land?
How far can intellectual property reach, should we be able to put an apple value on everything we do or think?
I have not read Das Capital, but I considered the question posed by Mason, "Can Capitalism Fall?”. After reading the comments to his post it appears that all are in favor that Karl Marx is off his rocker. However, consider this; in a solely capitalistic society every member of society would be looking out for number one. Men and women would place their wants before any other. This would result in fewer marriages and less family structures in which to teach values. Also, within families both parents may work in pursuit of personal goals and once again neglect the teaching of values to children. A decay of the moral fabric of society may ultimately cause the downfall of capitalism. This is how I propose that capitalism will fall. Few will gain power and monetary control over many through their exceptional ability or good-fortune. These few will lack the civil decency and moral compass (along with everyone else) to do recognize the greater good and will put their selfish desires first. They will do what our government increasing is doing by talking from some and giving to others or to themselves.
The capitalistic system without a moral compass will turn into a socialistic system. A revolution will occur and the system that was previously capitalistic will fall. The fall will occur primarily because of a breakdown in the core unit of society, the family. In order for Capitalism to succeed, families must be socialistic and teach that although individuals are not responsible for society, they have a duty a duty to uphold it.
I was going to leave my thoughts as comments, but felt that it created a subject of its own. Please comment and help me see the fallacy and/or the accuracy of my reasoning.