The cost of doing business

In the midst of the 2016 election season, I chatted with more than a few folks who believed Donald Trump had done bad things while in business, but that these were necessary to be a good businessperson. They excused his discriminatory housing practices, not paying contractors, and even hiring undocumented immigrants (despite railing against them in public). “That’s just the cost of doing business,” one of my friends told me.

These same friends were unable to tell me what limits this has. Could a CEO murder someone in the name of staying competitive? Would it be right for a company to silence a worker who accuses the CEO of sexual assault? These are extreme examples, but it’s important to tease out where the boundaries are drawn.

That’s sort of the problem with this. Once you accept the premise that “greed = good”, it’s hard to delineate acceptable greed and inappropriate greed. When I heard the news that Trump tried to fire Robert Muller, I wasn’t surprised. People with attitudes such as my friends’ have been enabling Trump his whole life, after all.