Moral Responsibility and Capitalism

From Mises Institute, “In his book, Where and Why Public Ownership Has Failed (1914), Yves Guyot, using both statistics and economic theory, shows systematically that private railways are safer, cost less, and more efficient. An unsafe private rail company is penalized by consumers whereas nationalized industries escape all material and moral penalty. Therefore, safety requirements are more likely to be respected in the private sector. Furthermore, bureaucratization in government owned industries tend to generate irresponsibility and therefore corrupt morality. People who do not feel responsible cannot act morally. If one does not feel responsible, why should he try to avoid a train accident?”

100 years later…

From CounterPunch, Michael Schwalbe is a professor of sociology at North Carolina State University argues, “the normal workings of capitalism invite, encourage, allow, and often compel people—those who control the means of production and of finance—to behave in ways that cause great harm to others or put others at great risk of harm….We see it when capitalists hold down production costs by refusing to pay for health and safety equipment or pollution controls, thus risking the lives and health of shopfloor workers and of everyone living downwind or downstream. We see it when capitalists knowingly sell defective or dangerous products (cigarettes are the paradigm example). We see it when capitalists extract fossil fuels in increasingly desperate ways that risk or create enormous environmental damage.”



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