Hypothetical conundrums can provide valuable learning experiences for students of corporate management and ethics, so let’s study one.
Suppose you’re a corporate chieftain who’s a free-enterprise fundamentalist, despising government regulation, taxation, and intervention in the purity of the holy marketplace. But – whoopsie daisy – suddenly a new competitor to your old-line product pops up, and more and more of your customers are switching to the alternative.
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Conundrum! You’re being out-competed, so do you try to compete better… or what? If you’re the reigning princes of anti-government extremism, you go straight to “what.”
This is not a hypothetical conundrum, but a real one faced by the Koch brothers, the fossil fuel duo who feel threatened by the steady increase in the number of middle-class families who’re putting solar panels on their roofs. Not only is this free, non-polluting sun energy slashing families’ utility bills, but famileis can also make money from it. Today’s efficient solar cells produce more electricity than a home needs, and 43 states allow these rooftop energy producers to sell their excess production back to the grid. It’s free-enterprise at its most-free and enterprising best! So, naturally, the Kochs and the utility monopolies HATE it.
Thus these old-power behemoths are tossing their Libertarian purity overboard and sending their lobbyists across country, to demand that state governments intervene in the marketplace to stop these pesky rooftop competitors from … well, from competing in the marketplace. And, adding to their hypocrisy, they want states to tax homeowners as punishment for becoming innovative energy producers.
That’s not the American way, but it is the corporate way. As Lily Tomlin tells us, “No Matter how cynical you get, it’s almost impossible to keep up.”
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