Throwing Money at Ethical Issues

“Money is the root of all evil.”  Almost everyone has heard this bromide at least umpteen times growing up.  This maxim differs from most of the trite utterances that people grow up with, since this claim actual has some legit proof.  Wealthy people tend to be less charitable and open-hearted than those who do not have the advantages of having a plethora of America’s green, dead presidents.  In spite of this, economist Kaushik Basu argues that using money to achieve the goals of international business should be allowed.  Basu argues that bribery should be justified as long as it is going toward receiving services that people are entitled to.  Now this argument opens up a new world of ethics in business.  What defines a service which people are entitled to?  Is it fair that this puts already industrialized countries at a huge advantage over countries with struggling fledgling economies?  If people are entitled to services, why should they have to pay for said services?  This thought is riddled with holes.  Bribery should not be made an acceptable means by which to conduct business.  Saying something is acceptable does not make that thing a morally right solution.  Stratifying the entire world’s economy by the wealth of each nation cannot be justified.  Paying money to receive something that one is entitled to is not a fair means by which to conduct business or anything else.

First off, if someone told you that you would not be punished if you killed a person, is murder still immoral?  Of course it is!  Just because one will not be punished by law does not mean that the action in itself is morally right.  Some actions are inherently corrupt, such as bribery.  Bribery consists of exchanging money to receive a pass on the rules and get a result that typically would take some amount of effort.  Is this ever right?  Why would it be?

Pursuing this further, one should think of the economic implications of Basu’s theory.  Suppose no business in the world would be punished for using bribery to receive services.  If all countries were allowed to use bribery as a legitimate method of conducting business, what would happen?  Well, industrialized countries would be at a significant advantage, since they already have plenty of money to spend on receiving services.  However, fledgling economies would struggle to get the same services, since businesses would be busy lending services to the highest bidder.  Is it right for already well-established economies to take all of the services and wealth while other countries stumble through a desert of poverty?  Why should these wealthy nations receive all of the benefits while other countries struggle just to survive?  The world we live in would become a greed-fixated one where countries are run by businesses which are only concerned about what they will receive while everything else can rot.

Finally, Basu’s argument presupposes the idea that people are born with rights and services should be provided to them based on these rights.  If people are entitled to goods and services, why should bribery be means by which to achieve these ends?  In fact, if people are born entitled to goods and services, why do they need businesses to procure these services?  Why could these services not just be provided to everyone regardless of wealth?  Basu’s argument not only decays the ethics of the world but also removes the need for business in the world.  Everyone would become slaves to the businesses that run the world if Basu’s theory were carried out far enough.

In short, the situation goes back to what parents tell their children.  Perhaps money is the root of all evil.  With this in mind, one should ask his or herself why businesses need so much of it to provide people with goods and services that they are entitled to.  The answer to overseas business relations does not lie in bribery or any other unethical activity.  The answer lies in honest relations, open minds, and ethical decisions.

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