El negocio de los negocios son los negocios

El presidente estadounidense Calvin Coolidge dijo alguna vez que el negocio de Estados Unidos son los negocios. Debió haber agregado que el negocio de los negocios en todas partes es obtener ganancias, ya que últimamente algunos líderes empresariales parecen haber perdido de vista ese precepto elemental.

Daniel Vasella, presidente y director general de Novartis, la quinta empresa farmacéutica del mundo, con sede en Suiza, escribió recientemente que las compañías multinacionales "tienen el deber de apegarse a los valores fundamentales, apoyarlos y promoverlos". Si se hubiera referido a valores corporativos como la honestidad, la innovación, el comercio voluntario y la sabiduría de los mercados habría tenido razón. Pero lo que quiso decir era "colaborar de manera constructiva con la ONU y la sociedad civil para definir la mejor manera de perfeccionar los derechos humanos".

Ampliar los derechos humanos es una meta loable, ciertamente, pero el altruismo empalagoso de Vasella trae a la mente el reproche del economista Milton Friedman de que "los empresarios creen que están defendiendo la libre empresa cuando declaran que no le interesan 'simplemente' las ganancias, sino también la promoción de metas 'sociales' deseables; que las empresas tienen una 'conciencia social' y se toman en serio su responsabilidad de generar empleos, eliminar la discriminación…y cualquier otra frase que esté de moda entre la banda contemporánea de reformistas". Friedman acusaba a esos ejecutivos de ser "títeres involuntarios de las fuerzas intelectuales que han estado socavando las bases de una sociedad libre".

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