Comments on: Was Walmart’s ethics policy part of the problem? http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/04/24/was-walmarts-ethics-policy-part-of-the-problem/ A slice of lime in the soda Sun, 26 Oct 2014 19:05:02 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.5 By: y2kurtus http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/04/24/was-walmarts-ethics-policy-part-of-the-problem/comment-page-1/#comment-38406 Thu, 26 Apr 2012 22:08:20 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=13437#comment-38406 The case of Walmart making facalitaing payments is extreemly similar to BofA and most other publicly traded banks bending and breaking forclosure rules.

The business case is simple… Walmart will not be, can not be, and should not be fined enough to make the net present value of breaking the law negitive. If the back of the envelope estimates are anywhere near accurate 20% of the value of the company is the mexican business. If they got an unfair jump start on half of that business than their crime is worth a clean 20 billion.

They will never be fined that much… probably not even one hundreth of that amount… and so the ethics are pretty small potatoes…

…there is no inured party that I can find anyway… customers save money, the employees actually make a market wage in mexico, the mexican goverments actually collect taxes since Walmart actually reports unlike many small mexican businesses, and best of all Walmart reinvests every dime of mexican profit in mexico because they don’t want to pay US income tax on repatrating the profits they make down there.

If I’m a Walmart share holder I’m glad they did what they did… it’s not like they killed someone here which a bunch of companies have.

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By: Eericsonjr http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/04/24/was-walmarts-ethics-policy-part-of-the-problem/comment-page-1/#comment-38333 Wed, 25 Apr 2012 17:34:07 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=13437#comment-38333 Having a million pointless rules to enforce selectively is not so much about ethics as control. There are some historical examples, with which Walmart policy makers are no doubt very familiar.

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By: MyLord http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/04/24/was-walmarts-ethics-policy-part-of-the-problem/comment-page-1/#comment-38292 Tue, 24 Apr 2012 17:21:24 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=13437#comment-38292 Perhaps the line was personal vs company gain. Anyone doing it for themselves was not to be trusted, but anyone doing it for the company was to be praised.

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By: MrRFox http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/04/24/was-walmarts-ethics-policy-part-of-the-problem/comment-page-1/#comment-38291 Tue, 24 Apr 2012 17:19:34 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=13437#comment-38291 @Worm600 – perhaps it goes deeper than that. “Everybody knows ….” So, when companies make the decision to operate in these places they are implicitly – so very implicitly and plausibly deniable – telling the troops on the ground to do what it takes.

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By: worm600 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/04/24/was-walmarts-ethics-policy-part-of-the-problem/comment-page-1/#comment-38289 Tue, 24 Apr 2012 16:48:09 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=13437#comment-38289 This is silly – Walmart’s ethics guidelines also prohibit bribing foreign officials in addition to not getting their dinners picked up by suppliers, not instead of it. Besides which, I seriously doubt that the people involved were unaware that they weren’t allowed to do this… they presumably just decided it was worth the risk.

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By: MrRFox http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/04/24/was-walmarts-ethics-policy-part-of-the-problem/comment-page-1/#comment-38288 Tue, 24 Apr 2012 16:46:34 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=13437#comment-38288 “MrRFox – should that vote also cover if companies will operate in Chicago or New Jersey? (I ask only half in jest.)” (realist50)

Well sure – inside the US it’s a clear-cut crime to make any such payments, “facilitating” or otherwise. Companies have to have a strict policy against it.

It’s tougher when you go overseas, and you’re after oil – we need the oil and want the companies to get it, and don’t seem to particularly care what they get mixed-up in to do so.

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By: Booradley999 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/04/24/was-walmarts-ethics-policy-part-of-the-problem/comment-page-1/#comment-38287 Tue, 24 Apr 2012 16:42:08 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=13437#comment-38287 The only reason the Obama administration is beating up on Walmart is because they don’t support him. Why is there no investigation of Jon Corzine and the billions he stole from investors? They guy should be in jail! Where is Eric Holder on the Crozine situation?

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By: realist50 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/04/24/was-walmarts-ethics-policy-part-of-the-problem/comment-page-1/#comment-38286 Tue, 24 Apr 2012 16:23:39 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=13437#comment-38286 MrRFox – should that vote also cover if companies will operate in Chicago or New Jersey? (I ask only half in jest.)

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By: MrRFox http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/04/24/was-walmarts-ethics-policy-part-of-the-problem/comment-page-1/#comment-38284 Tue, 24 Apr 2012 15:54:09 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=13437#comment-38284 “Call it the ultimate unintended consequence of a strict ethics policy.” (FS)

Huh … you sayin’ this wouldn’t have happened if WalMart had a less strict internal ethics policy?

Really, somebody needs to ask the shareholders straight-out if they want THEIR company to be operating anywhere that they have to pay bribes or “facilitating payments”. IKEA decided to leave Russia for that reason. Maybe it’s time shareholders decided if they should maybe follow that example.

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By: KenG_CA http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2012/04/24/was-walmarts-ethics-policy-part-of-the-problem/comment-page-1/#comment-38281 Tue, 24 Apr 2012 15:34:42 +0000 http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/?p=13437#comment-38281 The policy of not accepting anything of value, or any favors, from a current or potential supplier is not an ethics issue – it is designed to keep employees from falling under the spell of those companies. The whole point of vendors buying lunches and stuff is to unconsciously make the employee like the person. The vendor wants you to think the person you are dealing with is your friend, because it will help them if the choice is close or a toss-up. It has nothing to do with ethics. When I used to run a company over a decade ago, I told the buyers that if they wanted to go to lunch with vendors, they had to buy their own lunch. Vendors are not your friends, and I didn’t want anyone feeling they might be.

On the overall issue of corporate ethics, well, there aren’t any. Corporations are virtual machines, and machines don’t have any ethics. They are designed for specific functions, and while those functions may morph over time from solving a problem or filling a need into making as much money as possible in a short time for the management, ethics are only a marketing tool. The shield of incorporation not only protects individuals from legal implications for the corporation’s actions, but also seems to absolve individuals for their personal actions and choices (all that nonsense about their responsibility to maximize profits).

Corporations are machines, and Wal-Mart is one of the most efficient machines, designed so employees do what they need to do to get the job done. If their task is to build a presence in Mexico as fast as possible, and accomplishing that task requires unofficial payments, they’re going to do it. It’s not an ethics issue for the company, because there is no ethical right or wrong, only a practical right or wrong. It only becomes an “ethics” issue if somebody talks, and they never expected anyone to talk. Oops.

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