First Things online just published my thoughts on conservative Protestants and their attitude toward corporate behavior.
Here’s a clip:
Several months ago, I heard a story that forced me to give more careful thought to my views on the built-in morality of the market. A large airline on the brink of bankruptcy in 2002 asked employees to make substantial wage concessions. They agreed. The airline returned to profitability, and management acknowledged that it had the workers to thank, but in the subsequent years, instead of restoring the wage concessions, it awarded hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses to executives.
When pressed by reporters, the airline’s spokesman said the bonuses were necessary to retain top managerial talent. Pilots and other airline personnel could not leave because the airlines’ seniority systems would require them to start over at a new company. In effect, the workers could not easily punish the airline for failing to pay them back, so it was in no hurry to do so.
The story jarred me. Somehow, I had never applied my Christian conception of a sinful world to corporate behavior. In hindsight I realize my faith should have cautioned me against too easily deferring to the idea of the sufficiency of the invisible hand to produce justice.
Now, judging from this short bit, I’m guessing some of you will think I’ve gone all lefty on you. Not so. Read the piece. There is not a call for the slightest government action. What I’m calling for is the exercise of moral suasion. If we can protest when the convenience store decides to carry porn, we can also protest when an airline screws its employees. Follow the link and see whether you agree.