In every instance where Milton Friedman used the term “social responsibility,” it was in quotations. This is to stress that the understood definition of the term as to benefit the society at large, may not always be the case. In his article, The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase It’s Profits,” Friedman explained the trouble of requiring all businesses to perform with social responsibility.
The corporate executives are presumably responsible for the actions of their company and therefore should be in charge of seeing the consequences to society at large. The long-term effects of this however, may come full circle to than effect their company and it’s employees. Friedman draws a connection between the actions of a corporate executive, being paid by the stockholders, customers, and in turn the employees. This confuses me because I don’t see how it is relevant to the business. Perhaps it proves that I would not make a great businessman for being short-sighted, but I don’t believe that every action of social responsibility that the company partakes in will affect the customers in a grand way.
The author stressed the power of the corporate executive to be a civil servant in respect to his actions affecting the society a large. The examples provided included methods to protect the environment and general well-being of the public, but shouldn’t it be the government’s job to control this? The Fed should have the best understandings of how to eliminate inflation and place pricing guidelines on these items in order to do so. Similarly, the government environmental agencies should understand the limits of pollution and environmental issues, therefore creating guidelines for the businesses and therefore the corporate executives.
I agree with the concluding paragraph and title of this article that businesses should strive to increase profits as a “social responsibility” and not try to play the role of the government, but instead do the best they can within the set guidelines.