Showing posts with label it's just business. Show all posts
Showing posts with label it's just business. Show all posts

Monday, January 13, 2014

"It's Just Business"- An Innocuous Phrase, or a Symptom of a Sick Culture?

We've all heard the phrase. It's usually uttered in an apologetic tone along with a slight shrug of the shoulders (as if to say, "eh, what can you do?") which makes it that much worse when you stop and think about it- It's simultaneously being treated with ambivalence/an air of meek acceptance (the shrug) and an implicit admission of the phrase's darker undertones (the apologetic tone).

"It's just business."

You can bet that if someone is saying it, someone else, or a group of someone else's, has just been (or is about to be) hurt. Maybe a thinly veiled bribe has been delivered by a lobbyist to a government official, gaining favour for a corporation in a manoeuvre that, whether the parties involved want to think of it this way or not, violates the entire premise of a democratic government. Perhaps an entire town's/state's/countries' water supply is sold to a company who then sells it back to the community at prices they cannot afford and/or utilizes it in less than ideal ways (things that maximize profit (logging, let's say) but not availability of fresh water to the community) causing serious water shortages and causing massive health problems.

Whatever it is, something has been done that would be unacceptable in  a non business context but because the context in which it occurred is the wonderful leviathan we lovingly refer to as "business" it becomes acceptable. If you examine this for but a second the extent to which it is clearly a symptom of a system gone awry becomes glaringly obvious. So much so that I struggle to understand how this notion has pervaded for so long without really being deconstructed in the public consciousness. At it's core, "it's just business" is a euphemism for something that, once faced without prejudice, bias or the desire to defend, justify or diminish, is shockingly sinister. If we were being honest with ourselves, we would recognize that "it's just business" is a less obviously disgusting way of saying "I know it's wrong but I'm getting paid to do it."

Having said that, let's now consider an example from my personal life, first using the euphemism, then replacing it with a more appropriate, more accurate and non obfuscating statement like "I know it's wrong but I'm getting paid to do it." This example is not nearly as obviously immoral as some of the examples I mentioned above (especially the water supply one, which, by the way, happened in Chile) but it struck me at the time as being wholly unfair and really started the process of opening my eyes to the reality of business practises (working for a few doctors and seeing the relationship drug company reps have with the medical establishment definitely accelerated that process, but I digress).