“Let business do what business does best!”

One of the many mantra of the political right wing is to pay obeisance to potential supporters in business.   They believe that if they tell business that there will be less regulation, business owners will reward them with political donations.  This is why the phrase “Let business do what business does best” rolls so easily off the lips of right-wing politicians.  They might not know what those words really mean but they say them anyway.  It sounds good.

They are obviously not aware of the extremes of that statement as happened in Italy in the 1920s and 1930s under fascist rule.  The rampant corruption among the corporations that were effectively running Italy at the time would have embarrassed the most backward of third world countries.  All anyone conveniently remembers is that the trains did run on time but they never consider the cost.

What causes these thoughts to surface is a business page story today about the extra vehemence of people who used to believe in a business.  This would not surprise psychologists who understand how easily a strong feeling of love can become a stronger feeling of hate.  Any marketing person can tell you that you can spend millions building ties between customers and your company and one careless corporate act can turn these supporters into enraged enemies.

There was a time in North America when business actually discussed the concept of corporate social responsibility.  They never understood that either.  Today, they tout their donations to various causes and call that social responsibility.  Nobody wants them to stop giving to charity but it is incongruous in a climate of outsourcing staff for cheaper labour costs.

There was a list published recently of Canadian businesses that are considered socially responsible.  It was a short list.  Someone asked us where Bell Canada might make it on that list.  We suggested that of the top 500 responsible companies in Canada, Bell Canada might be number 898.  Bell Canada is hated by many consumers and the company could care less.

Bell discovered many years ago that its publics were all in Ottawa.  They were politicians and regulators.  The company realized if it could create a tension between those two groups it could pull off just about anything it wanted to.  We understand that the company has more people in its government relations office in Ottawa than its total consumer relations office at its headquarters in Montreal.

Bell pulled the greatest coup in Canadian corporate history when it decided to buy complete control of the CTV network.  CTV has become the stick that Bell can hold over the head of any government to get what it wants.  It no longer needs us stupid consumers.

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Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

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