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From Mr Kenneth Armitage.
Sir, Lynn Forester de Rothschild (“Capitalism thrives by looking past the bottom line”, Comment, May 21) suggests “although it is not the business of business to solve society’s problems, it is dangerous when business itself is viewed as the problem”. Which raises the questions then whose business is it and, how does one address the widening gap and increasing divisions in nations?
Am I my brother’s keeper? Of course not; but is it not reasonable to suggest I might have a conscience or sense of social responsibility to ensure my brother is not in want especially if and when I have more than enough for my needs? If not, then there really is no such thing as society and that attitude will eventually undermine a nation.
If we are to improve the lot of society through investment for the longer-term – some might call it philanthropy or altruism practised in Britain in the 19th century – attitudes and greed need to change at the very top of business, industry, commerce and politics. Companies might improve matters through projects or programmes designed to put something back into society by balancing their generally accepted obligation to shareholders with contributions to the public good in order to improve society as a whole.
Capitalism works, but only when everyone, and not a minority, shares in the success of the creativity and combined efforts of individuals, and when a share of the profits from business, industry and commerce, through taxation, help to maintain a stable society by investment in essential public services of health and education, in the national infrastructure and by meeting the needs of the most vulnerable.
Kenneth Armitage, Kesgrave, Suffolk, UK
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