Enron, Friedman, Smith

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Opinion based. MLA style is not mandatory. Sources not required. Extremely short responses is all that is required

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1) In the Enron film, one of the trader’s is interviewed about ½ way through the film and he says that he was never really comfortable working on the trading floor of Enron, but chose not to ask any questions because he was afraid of what he might learn. Do you think the traders were inherently bad people or were they just coerced into doing things that they knew were not right? Why did the traders do what they did? What circumstances can cause a normal, ethical person to lose his or her moral compass?

2) Friedman, in his article “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase Profits”, suggests that, “There is one and only one social responsibility of business — to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud”. So with that said, what is “social responsibility”? Does the CEO have social responsibilities in his capacity as a businessman? Will the CEO always have the employees’ well-being as his or her primary concern? Why or why not?

3) Is Friedman’s focus on the CEO misplaced? Let’s agree that the CEO is just doing a job that he or she was hired to do by the owners of the business. The CEO’s hands are tied, so to speak. But what about the owners? Doesn’t the same question about social responsibility arise for them?

4) In Adam Smith’s “The Benefit of the Profit Motive” (located in the Files Directory), what is Adam’s position on government intervention in the process? How does he believe that self-interest benefits society, and what is the value of the profit motive?


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