I’m probably one of the few people you know who puts business at the top of my Thanksgiving 2018 gratitude list. Business has been my lifelong opportunity to earn, grow, and to improve my life.
Some People’s Case Against Business
You could certainly argue against being grateful for business. We historically brought you children working in the mines, the 18-hour work day, and the systematic exploitation of workers. Recently we brought you Bernie Madoff, swindling millions from unfortunates. We brought you mismanaged financial institutions that took us to the brink.
And, jeez, we got duped in places where we never saw it coming—the health supplement industry, where we found out that over the counter supplements didn’t even contain what’s on their label—many of us bought and consumed pure chalk pills!
In the minds of the strongest anti-business radicals, business is the fundamental dark force driving what’s wrong with the world. Business has also been vilified by the most distinguished of opponents— universities, religious institutions, labor unions, and government, to mention a few.
In Comparison to Other Institutions, Business is Looking Better
Having said this, with all its warts and flaws, business is actually looking better all the time compared with other institutions of our day. Take a look at the US Senate, where the average age of senate leaders is well over 70 years old—where the majority of the senators’ days are spent—not on the senate floor—but on phone raising money for their next campaign. In religion, we hear of an egregious major scandal almost daily.
Business, the Adult Voice in the Room?
It’s shocking, but business has often become the most adult voice in the room. In a great many cases business is stepping up and holding its ground in a time when the winds of public opinion are blowing away from climate change and caring for the environment. Businesses are working for gender, racial, and sexual orientation equality—often against the prejudices of society and their own customers.
So in spite of it all, Here are some things I’m grateful to business for supplying:
1. Sustains Families with Jobs. Business, commerce and the jobs they create is the demarcation point between modern human civilization and the caves from which we emerged. We take it for granted, but as a child of the Great Depression, I know what national financial collapse is like through the eyes of my parents. From 1929 -1933 the unemployment rate in the US during that time period was at 25%. Shocking numbers, but to my West Texas relatives it was much worse—no one they knew had a job and fear reined. I’m most grateful I have a job.
2. Business Invents the Future. We have just begun to visualize a future that business will invent. Business and commerce are the demarcation point between modern human civilization and the caves from which we emerged.
I witness the impact of business from the vantage point of the window of an airplane at night, seeing the glittering lights that outline cities in places like New York, Amsterdam, London, Buenos Aires. These lights are the visible witnesses of commerce and life in homes and business, communications systems and transportation. Business is the airline that takes us to the future.
3. Business Helps Non-profits. I’m grateful that businesses are strong supporters of charities. Carol Kallendorf, PhD and I are founders of The Dream Come True Foundation, which brings people out of poverty into highly paid compensation in most cases in two years. Our company, Delta Associates, a Dream Come True sponsor, is committed to giving back to society what we have been given to achieve success.
Businesses and corporations are our most generous contributors, along with many individuals, which makes us grateful. On the national level, Corporations gave $20.77 billion dollars in 2017, up by 8%. Non-profits depend on business.
4. Creates Competition. We, as the vast majority of businesses around the world, believe in free enterprise, which simply means that businesses and people compete for their success in the marketplace on a fair playing field. I am grateful to be able to compete, and, shockingly, I’m grateful for the opportunity for me to fail. Failing is a huge opportunity, because it creates in us the urge and will to succeed. Without free enterprise, all of us could get by being mediocre, a tragedy for us and those around us.
So when I’m giving thanks on Thanksgiving, I’ll be grateful for business. Having said that, we all know that businesses have to make difficult choices when it comes to profit and loss in terms of investors, employees, and customers. There is much that its lacking in business in terms of compensation, ethical standards, and giving back to society. I’m also grateful that we’re still working on this.