Monday, 6 June 2011

"Sustainability" Seepage

"Taipei Times: Would you shed more light on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and its role in Standard Chartered Bank?

Mark Devadason: It is a way of doing business — a part of our sustainability model."
The "social responsibility" of a corporation is that which it holds to its' shareholders and, properly considered, nothing more. Milton Friedman was correct on this point. However, the social responsibility of shareholders is not to infringe upon the rights of others in society. That's all there is to it, and the use of the non-concept "sustainability" is just a sop to the ignorati. For a more entertaining critique of this sort of nonsense, see Nick M's post at CCIZ. Choice quote:
"Greenonomics “sustainability” is inevitably based upon subsidy. Subsidy has to come from somewhere which means it has to ponce off the genuine economy. But what if all businesses were “sustainable” by the Green token? Then there is nobody left to ponce off... Oh, but what if some of these Green businesses turn a profit and are therefore taxed? Taxed in order to be subsidised? Oh, do behave!"


  1. Ah, yes, the "sustainability" people who believe sustainability is merely an environmental issue. The same people who complain about subsidies for companies want subsidies for . . . companies--and use that as a way to thump others on the head with regard to public debt. Too bad that if sustainability doesn't also include economic sustainability, we're right back to where we started, bitching about subsidies and debt while unsustainable "sustainability" projects run out of funding and people are forced to go back to "more primative" forms of energy. So much irony lately. . . .

  2. "Ah, yes, the "sustainability" people who believe sustainability is merely an environmental issue."

    Actually, I don't even go along with that; I think the concept itself is incoherent to the extent that it presumes the future. It shouldn't be used anywhere.

    The word "sustainability" itself is used, not so much to refer to specific policies, but to signify a set of politically authorative prejudices. As such, the use of the word has "seeped" out from discussions of say, agriculture, to infect other areas such as finance with an authority of political correctness.

    Devadson's use of the word is as a soft, soothing noise for the journo's (and her presumed audience's) sensitivities to make his interview go over well.

    It seems to me that anybody who can earnestly and sincerely speak of a bank's "sustainability model" doesn't really understand what a market is.

  3. "It seems to me that anybody who can earnestly and sincerely speak of a bank's 'sustainability model' doesn't really understand what a market is."

    That's a good point. Thanks for keeping me honest, lest I myself slip into the trap.


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