America is based on the principles and ideals of freedom. The citizens are free to speak out, congregate peacefully, to choose their religion, among many others. In the economic realm, both citizens and businesses alike have access to a free market. A free market economy, or Capitalism, is an economic system which is controlled strictly by fluctuations in supply and demand. This lack of authoritative regulation can be seen in several different lights.
Those proponents of Capitalism claim that it gives equal opportunity to all entities. Those who oppose it claim the antitheses to be true. Occasionally entities, usually larger corporations, will become so large and powerful that they begin to deplete their competition both across the board and down the rungs of the corporate ladder. The most powerful businesses have begun to choke out smaller businesses simply because of their vast reservoirs of resources.
A lack of variation in size, regional differences, level of influence, quality, and capital fortitude of businesses has proven detrimental to economic stability time and time again. It is true that Capitalism was created to give everyone a fair advantage, however, the influence of several factors including aggressive shareholders and the voracity of human nature cause the importance of ethics in the business world to diminish almost completely to powerful executives.
Bradley Googins, executive director of the Center for Corporate Citizenship at Boston College, explains what it means to be a good citizen in the corporate world, “Good Corporate Citizenship is fiscal transparency, the demonstration of a corporate social conscience, and evidence that corporate values are more than just pretty words on a framed plaque” (qtd. in. Corporate Social Responsibility). As hundreds of billions of dollars are gained at the expense of ethical crimes, it becomes increasingly obvious that these tycoons put the weight of their bottom line before everything else.
Wal-Mart Stores Incorporated is one such corporate giant. Wal-Mart has been a success since its conception in 1962. It has thrived on bringing the lowest prices and the best bargains to consumers everywhere. Low mark-ups and high volume was Sam Walton’s formula for success. As a result of his business’s reputation as being budget-friendly, Wal-Mart’s popularity grew and grew, becoming profitable enough the make Sam Walton the richest man in America. Sam Walton enjoyed his riches with humility, unlike his successors arning an eleven figure salary while an Associate is unable to afford primary healthcare for her young child. Mr. Walton died in 1992, fiercely proud of the empire he built from the ground up. If Samuel Moore Walton could only see that his glorious empire of savings has succumb to protecting its astounding bottom line at the expense of employees’ wellbeing, environmental damages, economic instability, and communal dissolution, it’s likely he would roll over in his grave.