The Palmetto Insider

The blog of the South Carolina Policy Council

Note to Big Business: ‘Profit’ Not a Bad Word

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Given the myriad benefits of capitalism – modern medicine, the automobile and personal computers to name just three – one wonders why representatives of big business continually downplay its significance.

This is particularly evident when one watches Corporate America swoon over the “green movement.”

Around the world, major corporations, particularly those in so-called dirty industries such as oil exploration and power production, are practically falling all over one another in an effort to tout their environmentally friendly activities.

Unfortunately, though, instead of being honest and admitting that profit played a role in their decision – whether through improving their bottom line or their public perception – they choose to cloak themselves in the amorphous aura of social consciousness.

Take Santee Cooper, the state-owned utility that is offering a program that allows customers to pay a small surcharge to boost renewable energy production.

According to the utility’s Web site, Santee Cooper offers “green power” to residential customers in 100 kilowatt-hour blocks, with each block costing customers an extra $3 a month.

“We do it because it’s the right thing for the environment,” Santee Cooper spokeswoman Laura Varn told The State newspaper. “The more we can use our natural resources the better for the state and the environment.”

Of course, this is the same company that spent $242 million in recent years on a proposed coal-fired plant in the Pee Dee before pulling the plug on the project in August.

One could argue that if Santee Cooper really wanted to do “the right thing for the environment” it would shut down all its coal-fired plants and rely exclusively on renewable energy. That’s not economically feasible, of course, but neither is the premise that any corporation’s actions are motivated solely by the idea that “it’s the right thing for the environment.”

If Santee Cooper is interested in benefitting Mother Nature perhaps it could offer its green power to customers at no extra cost. That’s not as fiscally impractical as shuttering coal plants, but the company has obviously decided that the surcharge is needed to remain financially healthy.

What the utility either can’t or won’t admit is that there’s nothing wrong with this strategy.

Making money by honest means isn’t a crime. Turning a profit is the reason companies such as Santee Cooper are able to employ many hundreds in high-paying jobs and provide power directly and indirectly to millions of South Carolinians. It’s also why the utility can offer renewable energy through green power programs.

Capitalism enables people to lead healthier, longer lives. It provides for increased family stability, safer neighborhoods and a better-educated populace, as the Policy Council pointed out in its recently released book Unleashing Capitalism.

The reality is bankrupt companies not only can’t offer lucrative jobs or needed services, they also can’t put forward innovative programs and technologies.

It’s just too bad so many businesses can’t own up to the fact that making money is good for all of society.

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Written by Cotton Boll Conspiracy

November 23, 2009 at 12:27 pm

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