February 15, 2007 - The Irresponsibility of Corporate Social Responsibility

Fred Smith

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become the new rationale for old policies of transforming private firms into public utilities—and force them to perform whatever duties are politically attractive at any one time. The corporation is an extremely valuable way of organizing large numbers of people to produce goods and services efficiently—that is, to create wealth. That wealth then flows into the hands of shareholders, workers, customers, and suppliers, who are then empowered to advance their own individual goals and values. To “socialize” this process is to reduce the ability of individuals to advance their goals, placing the values of politicians as paramount. Nothing would do more to reduce the world’s ability to address poverty and pollution than to force CSR onto the world economy.

Short bio of the speaker:

Fred L. Smith, Jr. is president and founder of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free market public policy group established in 1984. Smith combines intellectual and strategic analysis of complex policy issues ranging from the environment to corporate governance with an informative and entertaining presentation style. A prolific writer, Smith’s works have been published in leading newspapers and magazines, including the Wall Street Journal, National Review, Economic Affairs, and the Washington Times. His academic articles have appeared in Harvard Journal of Law and Economics, CATO Journal, and Economic Affairs, and he is a contributing editor to Liberty magazine. He holds a B.S. degree in theoretical mathematics and political science from Tulane University where he earned the Arts and Sciences Medal (Tulane’s highest academic award). He has also done graduate work in mathematics and applied mathematical economics at Harvard, SUNY at Buffalo, and the University of Pennsylvania.