Wednesday, June 09, 2004

The Culture: Faith and Profit

The Rev. Bill Johnson, chaplain for the "Financial Seminary," a group that aims to bring religion to people charged with managing money, says businessmen are too self-interested, and he blames Ayn Rand for it.

"It is significant in instances like Enron, WorldCom and HealthSouth that many of the leaders of those Bible Belt companies were well-respected professing Christians," Johnson said. "The professed Sunday ethic of love and responsible living was not carried over into the workplace."

"Thousands of investors were hurt significantly, while a few profited tremendously. That creates a huge crisis of confidence and lack of trust in leadership everywhere."

Moore blames the ethical morass on the philosophies of best-selling author Ayn Rand and economist Milton Friedman, whose theories have come to dominate much of corporate America since the 1980s.[Ocala Star-Banner]
If only.

Gary Hull gets some play in the story.

Gary Hull, Duke University's director of values and ethics in the marketplace and a passionate Rand follower, believes that the main reason Western civilization has prospered since the Age of Enlightenment is that it separated faith from reason.

"Once you reject reason for faith, you can justify anything," Hull said. "All that matters is God's will, which is completely open to interpretation."

[. . .]

Hull adds that Moore's criticism of Rand is a gross misinterpretation of the author's ideas.

"Rand does not condone sacrificing the interests of others to your own interest, or treating others as a means to your end," Hull said.

"You can't attain any goal, be it wealth or success, by cheating someone else, or taking credit for someone else's achievement or invention."

That's what the people at Enron did, he said.

"The path to happiness is through hard work, not by achieving riches in the quickest possible way or by faking it," Hull said.
The article goes on to quote Hull in more detail as he argues that, "[r]eligion is incompatible with the profit motive."

Bravo. As addled as the Financial Seminary's view of the ethics wealth creation is, it's a good sign that they see Objectivism as their main opponent.

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