Les affaires sont les affaires

Le président des Etats-Unis Calvin Coolidge a déclaré un jour que le propos de l'Amérique est de faire des affaires. Il aurait pu ajouter que le propos de toute entreprise est de faire des bénéfices. Dernièrement, certains patrons semblent avoir perdu de vue ce précepte élémentaire.

Daniel Vasella, PDG de Novartis, la cinquième compagnie pharmaceutique mondiale, installée en Suisse, a écrit récemment que les multinationales ont le devoir de " respecter des valeurs fondamentales, de les défendre et de les promouvoir. " S'il avait fait allusion à des valeurs d'entreprise telles que l'honnêteté, l'innovation, l'échange volontaire et la sagesse du marché, il aurait eu raison. Mais il voulait parler d'une " collaboration constructive avec l'Onu et la société civile pour déterminer le meilleur moyen de renforcer les droits fondamentaux. "

Le progrès des droits de l'homme est sans aucun doute un bel objectif, mais l'altruisme mielleux de Vasella fait penser à l'observation de l'économiste Milton Friedman, qui reprochait aux hommes d'affaires de croire " qu'ils défendent la libre entreprise quand ils déclament que les sociétés ne se soucient pas " uniquement " de faire des bénéfices, mais aussi de promouvoir des objectifs " sociaux " désirables ; que le monde des affaires a une " conscience sociale " et qu'il prend au sérieux ses responsabilités en matière de création d'emploi, d'élimination de la discrimination . . . et ainsi de suite, selon les expressions à la mode de la dernière moisson de réformateurs. " Friedman accusait ces dirigeants d'entreprises d'être " les marionnettes involontaires des forces intellectuelles qui ont sapé les fondements d'une société libre. "

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