Lately I’ve been listening to the rhetoric of ambitious politicians both in the United States and Europe. They tend to speak of business in very negative terms usually with adjectives like greedy, selfish, and unfair. They blame corporations for everything from inequality to poverty and from depression to crime. They preach that the institution of business is inherently flawed.
Business, like politics, education and the press is run by people who sometimes do illegal and immoral things. But an additional complaint against businesses is the notion of competitiveness. Implementing new ideas in itself is evil, they claim, as it results in the closing of less creative enterprises.
It is true that business does depend upon constant innovation as things change. The man making, selling or repairing fax machines in the 1980s had to adapt to email and cell technology at the turn of the century.
Former finance minister of Austria and mid-20th century Harvard economist Joseph Schumpeter said that business depends upon creative destruction. Humans’ constant march forward to ever-newer ways of doing things is not a lamentable side effect of commerce but is an essential element of wealth creation.
Prior to his death, Moses addressed each of the twelve tribes of ancient Israel.