Wednesday, May 23, 2007
The idea of efficiency per se does not provide sufficient reason for human action. Everyone who justifies decisions by referring to the bottom line has something to learn from Treblinka. Cost-efficiency needs some honest reflection.
Because every exchange is always a relationship, to get the most while giving the least is unjust - unethical, antisocial, abusive, perhaps "evil". Yet predatory commerce ("the free market" as it is euphemistically called) operates regularly on the principle of "get the most and pay the least". Predatory commerce differs from Treblinka only in degree, not in principle.
There are businesses today dedicated to "the double bottom line" - profit and social responsibility. They are harnessing efficiency with concern for nature, aesthetic values and spiritual principles. They still seek efficiency (profit) but not at the cost of the well being of their employees, the communities where they are located or the implications for the wider world.