Politics and Business

by Emily Jasper on October 28, 2010

While I may not be a fan of politics myself, you really can’ get away from it in business. Politics can show up in employment regulation, SEC rulings, and even Facebook.

It was reported that Facebook may have lobbied against the Social Networking Privacy Act. As quoted by Mashable! writer Jennifer Van Grove, “The bill in question aimed to impose civil penalties on social networks displaying home addresses and phone numbers of users under 18 years of age. MarketWatch uncovered the expenses in reports Facebook filed with the California Secretary of State’s office.”

In my finance class, we often talk about regulations that aren’t going into effect because of lobbying efforts on the part of special interest groups. There are a number of decisions that had been made which brought about the recession, most of which were legal, but were they moral?

I want to be a good business person, and even with that, it looks like I might not have the law on my side.

One thing I never quite understood is how so many politicians had strictly political careers, yet could make decisions about business. I know that you gain certain levels of expertise with experience, but indirect experience may just not be enough. For example, our Assistant Director here told me she used to manage stores and talk to people in HQ who clearly had no idea what she did. Even a small amount of field experience could have helped.

I know I’m not an expert enough in politics to fully understand motivations and how lobbying changes the way our country is run. My experience is from the back end in procurement, after budget has already been allocated. What I have seen, however, is that it’s hard to get people what they need. A marine told me a couple of years ago that because people kept wanting the military budget slashed, he got broken weapons from Iraq, fixed them, and then sent them back to Baghdad in 48 hours. This happened over and over because it was harder to get access to new supplies.

I know that companies can make monetary contributions, and those often come with strings. I know that groups like to pay for campaigns to get a spot on the candidate’s agenda. I don’t care which party you represent: you are going to do back room business.

If companies are expected to follow certain codes of ethics, I’d like that part of business to keep showing up in politics. We know there are no-brainer decisions out there (like it’s wrong to release home addresses and phone numbers of minors), yet it still seems up for debate. We hear about representatives being charged with ethical violations, but we all know that’s only scratching the surface.

I might just be entering the world of politics more than I ever thought. Politics and business are tied, and it seems to me we all need a course in ethics to keep us in check.

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