(Business) haters gonna hate – but who gets hurt?

By Jack and Suzy Welch
September 14, 2012

“You didn’t build that.”

“Corporations aren’t people.”

With the first, a revealing gaffe, and the second, a wildly cheered campaign refrain, one party has certainly made it clear how it feels about American business these days.

It ain’t good.

Well, big surprise, we don’t agree. We consider entrepreneurs American heroes and, as we’ve opined recently, we think many corporations brim with humanity. Business can’t operate unfettered, of course, without any form of oversight or control. But our view, essentially, is that business is a source of great good for society, with the power to create hope and opportunity like no other institution going.

Indeed, the positives so outweigh the negatives that lately we’ve been trying to identify why some people hate business so fervently. After all, the risks of this movement’s efforts to demonize business are frighteningly high.

Here’s where we’ve landed.

First, there’s clearly a group of people that disdains business because they support some or all of the fundamental leveling tenets of socialism. This ideology is too multifaceted to summarize here and is well-known in any regard, but suffice it to say that its adherents believe, as the president once put it, “You’ve got to spread the wealth around.”

Then there are people who hate business not because of ideology but because of personal experience – they’ve been wrongly fired, endured a dreadful boss, or watched a schmoozer get the promotion that, by rights, belonged to someone better. Whatever the specifics, these individuals see business as a place where good people get burned.

For still others, their hostility derives from the recent financial meltdown, when the sheer negligence of many financial institutions and rating agencies, they believe, resulted in blameless Americans losing their jobs and their homes and threatened to bring down the entire economy.

Finally, and perhaps most pernicious because of its outsize influence, is the hostility toward business that radiates from the intellectual elite – the opinion leaders in journalism, academia and government. To them, business is rotten because it’s just so completely unfair. Otherwise, how do you explain the success of the party animal who lived down the hall in college?

You know what we mean. With the intellectual elite, you have a group of people who, once upon a time, took their studies very seriously, ran their college newspapers and clubs and protested for social justice in their free time. After graduation, they took jobs where they felt they could fight the good fight, even if it meant financial sacrifice. That was all well and good until 10 or 15 years out, when they started hearing stories about the obnoxious loudmouths in their college dorms who majored in playing the angles and minored in beer pong. These “lightweights” (in their view) had, horrifyingly, struck it rich on Wall Street. And not by making the world a better place. No – simply by showing up and chumming around.

O.K., so maybe that is enough to make you hate business.

Except, you shouldn’t. First of all, even if Wall Street allows some former party animals to make a fortune, Wall Street is but a piece of American business. It may show up in movies and on TV as the archetype, but far more of U.S. business consists of consumer and manufacturing companies making and selling real stuff, family-run enterprises, startups, farms, sports teams, ice cream shops, art galleries, summer camps, record labels – you name it. American business is what America does every day.

But just as important, you shouldn’t vilify American business because it’s our only road back to a thriving country, free of the noose of debt and offering opportunity to all who are willing to work, create, compete and grow.

Everyone knows that our economy must improve, but it can only improve in an environment that encourages business – and, yes, even loves it. Atmosphere matters. When hostility reigns, big enterprises worry about the regulations coming down the pike that might crimp operations and profits, and most hunker down on the capital spending front, human and otherwise. Entrepreneurs worry it’s not the right time or climate to expand, borrow on their credit line or hire, and they do the same.

Look, if you want jobs – and who doesn’t? – you have to come to terms with reality. Hating business doesn’t just hurt business.

It destroys the way forward for everyone.

Jack Welch was the CEO of General Electric for 21 years and is the founder of the Jack Welch Management Institute at Strayer University. Suzy Welch is an author, speaker and the former Editor of the Harvard Business Review.

PHOTO: An Occupy Wall Street activist takes part in a march in downtown Manhattan in New York, July 11, 2012. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

 

27 comments

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I’ve started, operated and sold a profitable business. I know first hand the hopes, dreams, disappointments and hard work associated with profits and success in a small business.

That said, I am aghast at the one-sided “legal boilerplate” (contract wording) forced on customers by banks, cable and satellite providers, cell phone companies, etc. that openly demand those who need such services to give up their fundamental rights as Americans to a judge and jury to resolve legitimate disputes. I hate the advantage they seek and thus gain to do whatever they want without meaningful consumer objection.

We who have credit cards repeatedly receive notice that the terms of our “agreement” have been changed unilaterally time and again followed by the insipid comment that if we don’t agree we must cease any and all further use of said account.
When “we, the people” can’t get 1% return on money deposited in a financial institution and yet see usury laws enacted to protect US mysteriously inapplicable to these federal, state and local institutions when it comes to interest charged on our credit cards, it is quite clear that the “game of life” has been “stacked” against us and our impotence to remedy such situation is the source of more than a little frustration if not anger.

We also don’t like it when our rights as consumers are eroded when our mortgages and/or personal notes are sold to others, a tactic common in today’s “playbook”. We don’t like it when “garbage loans”, ticking time bombs that should never have been made, are transferred and repackaged with premeditated malice for sale to investors who will be left “holding the bag” when the inevitable implosion comes (or taxpayers).

We don’t like it when “big money men” and the firms they run gamble in real estate, etc. poorly, secure in the knowledge that if things go well, they do VERY well, and if things go bad taxpayers will bail their sorry butts out. We don’t like insurance companies that are 100% effective at selling policies they have no intention of ever paying out even the percentage their business model presumes necessary and associated with the risks against which “we, the people” purchase protection from.

In short, I think it necessary to differentiate between “legitimate” businesses and those other exploitative and predatory organizations that give “business” a bad name.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

Really? Funny how you don’t mention Citizen’s United. The fact that our elections are now influenced by the highest bidder without disclosure – yes – those corporate “people” you mention – doesn’t make you flinch?

Your “maximize shareholder value” mantra has failed. And it has brought down our society.

Shame on you.

Posted by christian12 | Report as abusive

Great post Jack & Suzy. You basically hit the nail on the head – haters gonna hate! Eventually, someone will step up and reach across the proverbial economic isle and instruct the “elite” on economic basics. That individual will not likely be a far right conservative who favors laissez-faire for the benefit of Corporate world.
The greatest feature that the United States’ (socialist OR capitalist) structure offers is the existence of both sides. The capitalists insure the health of our economy, while the socialists insure the well-being of our populace. As one can see, neither is winning at this time!

Posted by BobAbeel | Report as abusive

This is very poor and vague writing. The writer made almost no attempt to distinguish between big business and small business in this amateur sweep about ‘business.’ In a global economy, big business and small business have almost nothing in common. And large, international businesses have almost no incentive to make America anything beyond a strung out nation of customers.

The Dow is a good example. It’s at an all-time high… right NOW? Yes, it is. So it fails completely as an indicator of American economic health today because the companies listed are largely international. They are practically competing AGAINST America (for labor, raw materials, innovation). They just need us to buy their stuff, not make it. The Dow is at an all-time historic high, but where is the U.S. economy really?

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive

Welch, if you claim to be so supportive of AMERICAN businesses and jobs…. what is your position on raising import tariffs on manufactured goods?

Since the founding of the U.S., these tariffs have run anywhere from 20 – 35% in order to generate direct revenues and encourage domestic production of goods. The Industrial Revolution in America was accompanied by import tariffs that hit as high as 45%. In that atmosphere (remember your words, ‘atmosphere matters’), the incentive for business was to build here and hire here. Over the past 30 years, these tariffs have slipped to 1.3%, under pressure from international business lobbies the oddly-named ‘U.S. Chamber of Commerce’ and other China-friendly outfits. That’s their current level, 1.3% (China still charges us 20% for goods we send there.

So it’s a very simple question, Welch. What is your position on raising U.S. import tariffs on manufactured goods? We look forward to your answer.

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive

“You didn’t build that.”

You instantly lost any shred of credibility you might have had by beginning your column with yet another attempt to perpetuate the lie that Obama was telling business owners thet they did not build their businesses.

Posted by 4ngry4merican | Report as abusive

Saying that “Corporations aren’t people” is anti-business misses the point entirely. The claim isn’t that corporations are evil. It’s not that they have no humanity. It’s not even that they don’t deserve some set of rights. It’s that a corporation is an organization of individuals who share a common interest, usually in the profit of a business. That profit interest is a good thing. It enables businesses to create jobs and products, both of which contribute to a healthy economy.
But it’s silly to think a corporation is a person. It’s missing a critical element, which some call ‘soul’, others ‘consciousness’. It has no conscience or sense of morality. And it’s not subject to the same punishments for bad behavior as individuals. For those reasons, corporations have no place in politics. Leave it to the actual people who make up these corporate organizations.

Posted by cagold | Report as abusive

I think someone has been watching their copy of the Atlas Shrugged movie a bit too much lately.

Yes, there have been protest movements over the past year or two that probably contain some people genuinely frustrated by capitalism and some people who wanted something to do until the next Bonaroo festival.

For those of us who fall into former category, I don’t believe that it is the very nature of business that bothers us. It is the power that rampant greed occasionally has to create total havoc and wreck people’s lives.

Specific example – some naughty boys at Enron brought down the huge company and wrecked the livelihoods and retirements of thousands of its employees and the investment portfolios of many non-employees.

Broader example – while real estate values climbed through the mid-2000′s, mortgages were being written to people who had no business buying houses and this was done because as long as the values of homes were climbing, banks could lend to all comers and then take over defaulted properties and sell them at a profit, if need be. When the housing bubble burst, the US economy almost collapsed due to the amount of loans now valued at more than the values of the homes securing them.

This wasn’t a government problem or an ethnic problem or a religious problem. This was the free market collapsing under the weight of its own greed.

The free market is still the best and most efficient way to value and distribute goods and services, but when a country goes through what the US has experienced in recent years, people will question the inherent flaws of such a system that can be brought to its knees by a relatively few very greedy people.

Posted by mcoleman | Report as abusive

(Prologue – “you didn’t build that” was not a gaffe. It was an accurate statement regarding the government’s roll in providing infrastructure, i.e. roads, which helps to support American business.)

I think someone has been watching their copy of the Atlas Shrugged movie a bit too much lately.

Yes, there have been protest movements over the past year or two that probably contain some people genuinely frustrated by capitalism and some people who wanted something to do until the next Bonaroo festival.

For those of us who fall into former category, I don’t believe that it is the very nature of business that bothers us. It is the power that rampant greed occasionally has to create total havoc and wreck people’s lives.

Specific example – some naughty boys at Enron brought down the huge company and wrecked the livelihoods and retirements of thousands of its employees and the investment portfolios of many non-employees.

Broader example – while real estate values climbed through the mid-2000′s, mortgages were being written to people who had no business buying houses and this was done because as long as the values of homes were climbing, banks could lend to all comers and then take over defaulted properties and sell them at a profit, if need be. When the housing bubble burst, the US economy almost collapsed due to the amount of loans now valued at more than the values of the homes securing them.

This wasn’t a government problem or an ethnic problem or a religious problem. This was the free market collapsing under the weight of its own greed.

The free market is still the best and most efficient way to value and distribute goods and services, but when a country goes through what the US has experienced in recent years, people will question the inherent flaws of such a system that can be brought to its knees by a relatively few very greedy people.

Posted by mcoleman | Report as abusive

Welch, we know you read this because its YOUR blog. So you can stop hiding now. Given your stated position above, aiming to build up American business, what’s your position on raising the import tariff for manufactured goods coming into America? Simple question. We look forward to your answer.

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive

Americas hates some business, for good reasons, but loves most.

Dear Jack and Suzy,
I am delighted to read that; “Business can’t operate unfettered, of course, without any form of oversight or control.” this is a change in the right direction. I must admit I am pleasantly surprised.

Americans don’t hate their hardware store and it is a business, Americans don’t hate their accountants, supermarkets, local gas stations, bread maker, butcher, farmer, florists, etc. They are all businesses. But I must admit it’s clever to hide large corporations behind small hard working businesses in an attempt to make the argument that “Americans hate tem all”.

Americans do however, heat large businesses, bloated multinational corporations like GE, Goldman, Monsanto, Haliburton, Blackwater, Exon, Shell, BP J. P. Morgan and the list goes on and on. And they hate them for very good reasons. These corporations avoid taxes, get subsidies which we have to pay for, get us into wars, their CEO steel from the shareholders, pollute the environment and buy politicians.

Wall Street is not just a peace of the American business. The financial industry has grown from 3% in 1950s to almost 20% in 2011. This is a huge growth and an enormous parricide on the American economy. It inflates commodities, encourages gambling with other people’s money and it has impoverished a huge portion of the middle class since 2009. The financial industry is not just a small part of our economy; it’s an addiction and a cancer.

The other “businesses” which are actually multinational conglomerates like GE, Bain Capital, etc., do make, as you write “other stuff” but at what cost? They get huge government subsidies, are in many cases monopolies, export or destroy American jobs, give away American technology, pollute and in some cases pay no tax in US. On the balance they are another cancer for the American worker and American economy. They are hated for good reasons.

But your attempt to lump in the other small businesses into the same pile is quite transparent and, frankly an insult to our common intelligence. The American public is not stupid or afraid to say anything. After all the public can’t be fired if they disagree with the … business CEO.

And you could not be more wrong stating, “if you want jobs – and who doesn’t? – you have to come to terms with reality. Hating business doesn’t just hurt business.”
On the contrary, hating the large corporations, which happen to be a form of business, is the first step in making needed changes. Holding the public hostage because they want a job is not helping, it’s making the American people more determined and the focus of heat that much more defined.
American public understands that businesses don’t exist to create jobs. Businesses exist to create profits. Jobs are an undesirable byproduct and when possible, businesses export them to cheaper labor places, or buy robots soon to be the next reality the American public will have to deal with.
The American public hates large corporations for very good reasons and the hate is the first step in mustering the energy to change this system which for the past 40 years has made very few very rich, has impoverished hundreds of millions and has destroyed America’s most cherished asset, the hope for a better life for everyone.

But, I am not surprised that you make these arguments, I would not expect anything else, I don’t think anyone would.

Posted by grand | Report as abusive

In past years, businesses did have a sense of responsibility to their communities but deregulation and offshoring destroyed any sense of social responsibility, yet the Welches label critics of vulture capitalism as “Socialists”, disgruntled employees, dismiss legitimate complaints abut the fraud and lack of accountability which created the financial crisis, and compare journalist, academic, and government critiques to mere whining by nerds jealous of the financial success of frat house party animals. Facts speak for themselves. The rising poverty level, crumbling infrastructures, rising inequality, homelessness, etc, etc, shows that America is beginning to resemble a third world country so that people like the Welchs can feel entitled to further enrich themselves with no sense of social responsibility because everyone else is just a slacker who deserves his poverty and desperation. How disgusting. This is what is wrong with America.

Posted by Greenspan2 | Report as abusive

It takes certain amount of clarity to qualify even for commenting on a topic like this.

Here is the distinction I see in businesses –

- Businesses used to be responsible and community friendly representing healthy capitalism upto 1980s.

- Since 1980s and forward, this perhaps has taken an ugly-form where, a reckless disregard for the community was instituted by policy changes via successful lobbying that corrupted the political will to move manufacturing and hence related jobs abroad. This practice having continued for over 3 decades, made the local consumer weak where, his earnings go to businesses that invest abroad. This cycle eventually, results in less spending, unemployment and or under-employment. This is the state we are in now.

The remedy can come in the form of one of many ways –

- regulating the free-trade especially, from unfair trading partners

- making parts of lobbying associated with corruption with a self-serving intent at the cost of public’s money, to be illegal and accountable by justice department

- imposing across the board value-add-tax on imports to restore manufacturing and hence related jobs and trade competitiveness

This hurt though it impacts the tempted consumer with cheap (quality) goods that lead to his un/under-employment at first while business enjoy the indecent profits for some time, will eventually extend to business in the form of slow down like in the current times, as linear/exponential business growth model of taking local money and investing else-where, will not be sustainable.

In summary, this unregulated community unfriendly free-trade practices of current state of large businesses at-large lobbied and brought-upon by themselves, takes its natural course of – first making the consumers weak and then extend the misery to the growth-addicted businesses themselves where they face the natural course of reality of the slow-down of this unsustainable and irresponsible model.

A healthy correction will follow this phase in the means outlined as above, as this “self-correcting-system” is the strengh of this open American system that the world looks up-to in investing in this rather macro-economically broken-beyond-belief system.

Posted by Mott | Report as abusive

It takes certain amount of clarity to qualify even for commenting on a topic like this.

Here is the distinction I see in businesses -

- Businesses used to be responsible and community friendly representing healthy capitalism upto 1980s.
- Since 1980s and forward, this perhaps has taken an ugly-form where, a reckless disregard for the community was instituted by policy changes via successful lobbying that corrupted the political will to move manufacturing and hence related jobs abroad. This practice having continued for over 3 decades, made the local consumer weak where, his earnings go to businesses that invest abroad. This cycle eventually, results in less spending, unemployment and or under-employment. This is the state we are in now.

The remedy can come in the form of one of many ways –

- regulating the free-trade especially, from unfair trading partners
- making parts of lobbying associated with corruption with a self-serving intent at the cost of public’s money, to be illegal and accountable by justice department
- imposing across the board value-add-tax on imports to restore manufacturing and hence related jobs and trade competitiveness

This hurt though it impacts the tempted consumer with cheap (labor/quality) goods that lead to his un/under-employment at first while business enjoy the indecent profits for some time, will eventually extend to business in the form of slow down like in the current times, as linear/exponential business growth model of taking local money and investing else-where, will not sustain.

In summary, this unregulated community unfriendly free-trade practices of current state of large businesses at-large lobbied and brought-upon by themselves, takes its natural course of – first making the consumers weak and then extend the misery to the growth-addicted businesses themselves where they face the natural course of reality of the slow-down of this unsustainable and irresponsible model.
A healthy correction will follow this phase in the means outlined as above, as this “self-correcting-system” is the strengh of this open American system that the world looks up-to in investing in this rather macro-economically broken-beyond-belief system.

The above situation however, takes a back seat and goes unaddressed as the political focus hovers around the three macro factors of weakening this country – social spending, military spending and medical care – each amounting to over $800B where, the first part helps certain portion of the public while the latter two, will feed businesses.

Posted by Mott | Report as abusive

Once again, ole Jack, sitting in the executive suite of his Jack Welch Management Institute, pumps out a puff ‘pro-business’ piece that entirely MISSES the point of why people are mad a business….

Jack…. come on down from your 1% perch and view the American people as they really are. People in general do NOT hate business because some drunk made a trillion dollars over-night on wall sreet. They’re angry because he did it illegally, and he will never be prosecuted for it… Yet, if they step off the curb while the ‘Don’t Walk’ light is flashing, they go to jail, lose their credit rating, and their house…

What we’re talking about Jack, is as you say: “Business can’t operate unfettered…”. But Jack, this is exactly what is happening, with Wall Street and the big banks leading the way.

Re-think your position Jack, do some additional research, and come back and re-write this piece…. Only next time, base your piece on actual evidence.

Posted by edgyinchina | Report as abusive

While I do think there is a lot of hate I believe your analysis is completely wrong. I say this as a gen x entrepreneur that started two successful businesses. I believe the extreme rhetoric is the result of an aging baby boom generation that sees everything through the prism of their ideals. Disagreement must mean you are wrong.

To address the specific quotes: I did build my businesses. But, I could do it in America because of many things government provides: the rule of law, contract resolution. Even more importantly, my co-founder and I, and many of our employees paid for college (at state schools) due to government programs that lowered cost and provided access. Just like there are reasons America creates more businesses than Europe, there are reasons that America creates more businesses than Somalia and other failed states.

To the second comment, I also have three children. While I would feel bad about losing my business, I would be devastated at the loss of one of my children. Even though the businesses you worked with were larger, I still feel safe in asserting that either of you would mourn the loss of one of your children more than the loss of GE. To say otherwise would greatly diminish your humanity.

Maybe its being younger, but the real risk to our competitiveness is a generation of so called leaders so bent on winning political squabbles over misguided ideals (both left and right) that they don’t care how much collateral damage they cause.

In the meantime, stop adding to the hyperbole by missing the nuances and subtleties of a complicated modern world: Those of us that are creating businesses are neither creating life, nor doing it alone. We do take risks, and we enjoy what we do, and we hope we make a positive contribution.

If you excuse me, I have more work to do this morning before I go golfing with my son on this fine fall afternoon.

Posted by BillWagner | Report as abusive

There is no longer any excuse (other than ignorance) for multiple posts just because of poor (or no) Reuters “feedback” when you hit the “Submit Comment” button.

Inn your browser URL window insert: http://www.reuters.com/profile/(insert your commenter ID here).

This will pull up your own Reuters “profile”. There you can confirm a post has been “accepted” LONG before you see it as a “column comment” in most cases if you just give it a few minutes (on most columns, a half hour on some…it updates automatically.

I’m sure Reuters is doing everything possible to implement improvements to their “commentary system”. We ALL want for “instant perfection”, but that’s not one of the available choices.

Even the present “system” is light years ahead of the chaotic mess of CNN commentary.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

If corporations are people, then why not have a corporation as President? Why not fill the entire cabinet and Congress with corporations? They are people are they not, you say.

The notion, while logical, is laughable. Corporations are organizations, not people. Corporations, except at the smallest level, are also very rarely run by entrepreneurs but by bureaucrats or salesmen. Corporations are almost never associated with one country or people. They are “stateless” by nature.

Business organizations do not need to be considered “people” to work well, and in almost all other countries confusing organizations and people simply does not happen.

Posted by usagadfly | Report as abusive

Earth to Jack Get a grip Jack your bias or clueless is showing snarky teeth. Clearly your reasoning is suspect, your arguments are specious and you certainly attempt to demonize your so called, “haters”.
First and foremost Jack, using those quotes as article headers is so disingenuously facile that it feels slimy. Again you take the President’s quote out of context and he is correct Jack; business didn’t build America’s infrastructure that they use 360×24 to make their corporation profitable while fighting tooth and nail to keep dumping their industrial waste onto the public sector to reduce their costs and responsibility to safely dispose of their pollutants. Jack, you really should know that – Corporations aren’t people; they are created, under law, to fulfill a legal purpose and intended to benefit the shareholders &investors that caused it to become a legal entity. IT’S NOT A PERSON, Jack, IT’S A THING – IT’S A LEGAL FICTION!
Then you pontificate a bit before starting the absurd scurrilous name calling that uses disparaging stereotypes for the ‘bad people’ you hold for society to scorn.
You dislike the first ‘haters’ so much you call them “a group of people”…that support fundamental leveling tenets of socialism,…”its adherents believe, as the president once put it, “You’ve got to spread the wealth around.” Jack, your implied smear by association tactic, is so old & lame. It’s also clear that either you don’t understand socialism tenets or think that we’ll fall for your untrue accusation and be so scared of what you say President Obama’s really by his taken out of context quote.
You keep using simplistic stereotypes to classify other “business haters”, the, uh ‘Bad Things Happened to Good People’ then cavalierly dismiss the millions of Americans who were harmed financially, emotionally and morally wronged, lost their jobs, thrown out of their homes, their lives ruined and the trillions of dollars of lost wealth, stolen away by deceit and fraud deliberately developed by dishonest investment bankers, stock brokers, mortgage banking corporations, real estate Brokers & realtors, appraisers; describing them as those that believe that the financial crash was by sheer negligence of the corporations while implying they’re wrong. However, had reserved it was the last despicable group of “business haters “ stereotype , which you created and named called “intellectuals” and decried their pernicious hostility and using their positional roles as social opinion shapers to influence public views against corporations scorned the harshest ,criticized their social roles, demonizing them for speaking out against corporate excesses, predatory business practices, unethical behaviors, illegally spewing pollutions into our air and dumping industrial poisons in our rivers and lakes implying they somehow that betrayed big business. The egregiousness of his attack against so-called business haters emphasizes both the blatant absurdity behind it and a total lack of even a semblance of rational cognitive thinking. In the last 3 decades alone, ‘Big Business’ has been indicted and convicted of felonious illegal actions and dishonest business practices, illegally polluting and dumping industrial waste that was so pervasive it led to Federal laws and a creating a pollution Superfund that ‘Big Business’ had provide a financial bond, cover-up attempts, bribing dishonest legislators for favorable legislation, have been discovered and repeatedly exposed and prosecuted, hundreds of thousands of American jobs even whole industries that ‘Big Business moved to foreign countries to increase corporate profits, their rampant and public evading paying their American taxes, their record of deliberate non-compliance of OSHA rules and regulations legally required to protect American workers & using corporate profits to fund legal challenges and endless appeals of regulatory fines and conviction of illegal actions that a case can be made and easily that the current distrust, dislike and hated of Big Business was caused by Big Business.

Posted by JBltn | Report as abusive

Still no reply from Welch on tariffs. The guy has gone from Captain of Industry to eighth grade-level blogging. “Business good, complain bad.” Kind of sad.

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive

Don’t worry Jack, some people like pain and prefer slavery. So, you’ll find some followers.

Posted by brotherkenny4 | Report as abusive

Welch, it’s a simple question: Raise U.S. tariffs on manufactured goods coming into the U.S. or not?

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive

This is a great article. Where do those who hate business imagine jobs come from? I never got a job from a poor man. Like most people, I aspire to be rich. Yet these business haters act as though it is evil to be rich. Are we supposed to believe they do not aspire to be rich? Bah! Ridiculous. My big question for the Occupiers is, what in the world do you want? You are protesting for something…what is your goal? What does success look like to you? The impression you give the world, with the help of the media, is that you want to punish, rob, maybe even kill successful people. And how would this benefit you? Even if you are not arrested, how… does this… benefit you?

Posted by nCounterSuccess | Report as abusive

Welch, you’re getting simple in your old age. Hating Wall Street is not the same as hating business. Wall Street is a bailout recipient full of international tax dodgers and average-IQ functionary suck-ups who serve those tax dodgers. Very few people on Wall Street are entrepeneurs. Very few people on Wall Street even have business interests in common with America.

Posted by AlkalineState | Report as abusive

“you shouldn’t vilify American business because it’s our only road back to a thriving country, free of the noose of debt and offering opportunity to all who are willing to work, create, compete and grow.”
This is the main thrust of Mr. Welch’s article, and some of you need to get down off of your soapbox. He certainly isn’t excusing all of the unscrupulous things that “big businesses” have done and continue to do. Obviously there are villains out there, at the helm of business and any in every other type of endeavor, always have been and always will be. Oftentimes their behavior has been inexcusable. But the fact is that at the present time, the attitude towards business and corporations – of any kind – is very, very negative, and the current administration fans these flames at every opportunity. It shouldn’t be that way. The occupy wall street “movement” is a joke, with no coherent plank other than “tax the rich people more” (since that will solve all of our problems..) Save some of your outrage for the government, and the breathtaking waste of hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars on useless stimulus packages and endless wars. And as an aside, the notion postulated by another commenter on here that wall street or any other corporation is responsible for turning the U.S. into anything resembling a “third world country” is completely asinine and farfetched to say the least.

Posted by gccrawfo | Report as abusive

Excellent post. Corporations, large and small, are what make modern life, well, modern. And comfortable, and a ton of other positive adjectives.

The blanket condemnation of corporations that we hear from the left is incredible. I suggest they be sentenced to a year in North Korea or Cuba. They will change their tune lickety-split, I predict.

Posted by MDickson | Report as abusive

First, I don’t think people ‘hate’ business – they simply would like to see a more level playing field between business, their workers and the general public. Granted, most businesses no longer have slave labor as the first business – mercantilism – had and the alignment between business and government no longer TOTALLY favors the business but those change have been hard won. Even now, Wall Street is fighting in court the rules set in place by Simpson Bowles, continually eliminating the reasonable restrictions on ‘unfettered’ capitalism that resulted in the most recent financial melt-down. This was just another major world melt-down brought about by the greed and corruption of capitalism with one of the first being called the South Sea Bubble in 1720. These financial disasters have created extreme hardship for the general public but less so for business.

I’m uncertain what your reference to the ideology of ‘leveling tenets of socialism’ means, but if you are referring to peoples’ desire not to require the typical taxpayer to support the excessive greed of business through the socialization of debt/loss and privatization of profits then that is certainly a tenet I support. Currently, it would appear that business has no desire to ‘spread the wealth around’ but is more than willing to spread the debt. Even during the bail-out negotiations it was widely reported that the primary worries of the financial captains were there might be a moderation of executive pay and bonuses – this at time when their recklessness had toppled the economy; thousands loss their jobs along with their homes; communities were devastated with the elimination of basic services; school programs were gutted and millions loss their retirement and life savings.

There were a number of decades beginning in the 1950s when the collaboration between business, their workers and the public created a thriving, growing economy that benefited everyone and contributed to a healthy middle-class that emerged out of the hardships of war time and poverty, enhanced education for all and achieved levels of success never before seen – benefiting everyone… not just business alone. However, with the movement toward even greater financial gain for owners, executives and shareholders, that model of success for all has transitioned into one of success for the top 1% who have already acquired millions but are not content unless continually gaining more. This is where the relationship between business and ‘some people’ has broken down – this incessant greed / winner take all approach to doing business has resulted in many people feeling less than euphoric about today’s business model.

While most of us fully understand we are in a global market and must compete worldwide, it is more difficult to understand how business can abdicate responsibility to those in supporting job roles within an organization while paying CEOs millions; completely eliminate entire sections of a business in order to pay shareholders a few extra dollars; ignore the environment and public health in order to save a few bucks; move companies to destitute communities – taking advantage of impoverished locals to save in salaries paid then giving CEOs more millions; allowing a decrease in the quality of the product in order to pay untrained, foreign employees less in salary. This list could go on but I think the point is made.

Yes, American business is what America does every day and their are a great many American business out there that are still very much invested in America and Americans – think Costco – a most admirable example. However, there are far too many of those out there run by executives whose primary goal is to line their own pockets to the greatest extent possible while ignoring whatever costs – to workers, communities, air quality, water systems, fellow human beings. Yes, we want jobs – who doesn’t? If you mean by coming to ‘terms with reality’ we have to accept status quo and allow business to run ram shod over communities in order to get those jobs then we are in for hard times as there are many of us still fighting ‘the good fight’ which means a balance. A balance that allows business to grow but pulls up the quality of all around it – not diminish or destroy.

Without a balance, the way forward truly is destroyed.

Posted by ytboarder | Report as abusive