Comment history

Dispute erupts at Wal-Mart over ear-piercing of young girl

Wilbur_Nether wrote "Really? OK, just for the sake of argument:doesn't Wal-Mart have an ethical obligation to its shareholders to attempt to provide them with profits and revenues?"

Yes and that's the problem. Aside from obeying Federal and state statutes regarding safety, wages, working conditions, and liability the ONLY ethical guideline they legally have to follow is to generate profits, and thus stock value/dividends to the share holders. As long as their actions fall within the narrow definitions of "legal", no Corporation is bound to follow any other set of ethics except maximizing profits, and minimizing liability.

Ethics binding to individuals in a society are not binding to corporations. Most large corporations provide the shield of anonymity to their managers. A corporation violating laws may face sanctions and even fines, which will be appealed ad infinitum until they just go away. The cherry on the top though is that unless an individual within that corporation is provably guilty of a crime, no one individual is ever held accountable. If the appeal process doesn't work then the fines are payed out of the corporate profits, a few people in lower or middle management are sacrificed, and life goes on. Even if an executive officer is discharged they generally get to keep the "golden parachute" they negotiated previously and move on to another corporation ... or a career as a lobbyist.

If profitability is the foundation of ethics then one should remember the words of John Maynard Keynes:
"Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone".

July 6, 2007 at 10:50 p.m. ( | suggest removal )

Dispute erupts at Wal-Mart over ear-piercing of young girl

This is a subject I recently discussed with some friends. I've seen the local Wal-Mart put children who were probably still wearing diapers through this. I've evaluated why a parent would do this to a child, who doesn't want it done and the only rational reason I can think of is... vanity. Not the childs, but the parents. Having a small childs ears pierced serves no useful function. It's a painful fashion statement, that many small children obviously are not interested in participating in. In my opinion it's nothing more than ego stroking for the parents and not in the best interest of the child. If a child decides to have their ears pierced, and can follow through with the procedure then fine let them.

As a parent perhaps I've been lucky that mine have grown into responsible, ethical, and productive members of society. Then again perhaps my philosophy of child rearing had something to do with it. I was never interested in "raising children but raising adults" by teaching and example. Children are not puppies. Parents do not "own" children. Children are human beings with basic rights who need to be taught and guided while growing into adults. In my opinion forcing children to endure cosmetic alterations, that are painful teaches them the wrong lesson... that if you're big enough, strong enough, and strong willed enough you can force your will on others (not a lesson I ever taught my children).

As for Wal-Marts policies in this matter. If they can generate a profit, and not deal with liability issues, they'll take the money every time. Ethics has nothing to do with their position.

July 6, 2007 at 10:52 a.m. ( | suggest removal )