Summer Sale Extended! Get unlimited digital access for 13 weeks for $13.
Readers Respond
News Opinion Readers Respond

What today's business leaders lack

Many successful people of today are absolutely convinced that the "virtuousness" of successful entrepreneurs and business people doing what they do creates opportunities for the benefit of all in our society. I truly don't doubt that. That is exactly how Rockefeller and Roosevelt and Kennedy and Buffett and on and on felt. These people were as capitalistic as they come. What those people had and what is missing from many today who champion this "virtuousness" is two other principles.

One principle, in old fashioned language, is the principle of Noblesse Oblige. With their vast fortunes, the business leaders of the past set up foundations in an attempt to ensure more opportunities for more people. They recognized that the vagaries of the free market system, while the best system yet devised, does place obstacles in the way of far too many. They also recognized that despite their own vast wealth, it was not nearly enough to address the enormity of these obstacles. They recognized that the government was a vehicle needed to address the scale of the situation. Their conviction to that principle is what led those people to not only use their money to help, but lead in support of antislavery, child labor laws, voting rights for women, Social Security, mine safety laws, civil rights laws, and equal rights for women. Those people recognized that everyone may not be a hero who can rise above their circumstances. Those leaders in industry recognized their obligation to take the lead in advocating for a government that reaches back and offers a hand to others. Too many business leaders today believe they made it entirely on their own. Others who aren't able to achieve the same success are on their own.

The second principle the business icons understood was to never allow religious stances interfere with that virtuousness principle. The leaders of the past, for example, stood up to the outrageous activity of Father Charles Coughlin on the radio back in the 1930s, even though he was anti-communist. He was akin to what is going on today on much of cable TV "news." Those leaders of industry then virtually embarrassed him off the air. Those entrepreneurial leaders of the past would never have allowed the religious fervor that has, for example, resulted in legislative proposals that would make a criminal of any woman who is raped, gets pregnant and chooses to end that pregnancy.

While it may be true that the majority of our wealthy business people may do what they do to a certain degree out of virtuousness to benefit all, that is not enough. They must also reach to a higher calling as their predecessors did for over 100 years.

Mel Mintz

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • Republicans have eviscerated the middle class, and Democrats have let them

    Republicans have eviscerated the middle class, and Democrats have let them

    Dan Rodricks' column "Let's help the poor, but not close to home" (Feb. 3) was right on target. Yes, and Ronald Regan started the great disintegration of student aid, social services, welfare benefits and federal support for public housing and urban renewal which has continued to this day.

  • Lift the cap on Social Security taxes

    Lift the cap on Social Security taxes

    Reviewing the 2016 federal spending graphs that accompanied John Fritze's excellent article, it is obvious, at least to me, that 50 percent of the spending could be offset with one minimal tax increase ("What's in it for Md.," Feb. 3). However, no politician would have the intestinal fortitude...

  • A constructive idea for infrastructure, taxes

    A constructive idea for infrastructure, taxes

    As much as the $4 trillion budget President Barack Obama sent to Congress Monday is a highly political document giving his allies things to rally around and his opponents proposals about which to grouse, the spending plan succeeds at putting two issues of irrefutable importance front and center...

  • Mr. Obama's 529 brouhaha

    Mr. Obama's 529 brouhaha

    Rarely does a president flip-flop on an initiative presented in the State of the Union address as quickly as Barack Obama did this week. He reversed himself on 529 college savings plans on Tuesday, which was just seven days after his speech to the nation. Such a political miscalculation is instructive...

  • Free community college is a bad idea

    Free community college is a bad idea

    Free community college is another poorly thought idea from President Barack Obama ("Obama turns populist in State of the Union speech," Jan. 21). Am I against opening up the opportunity for many who cannot afford college? Absolutely not, but here is my concern. We already require K-12 education...

  • Obama's middle class 'help' is useless

    Obama's middle class 'help' is useless

    All we hear from President Barack Obama is that he is for the middle class. Well, I consider myself middle class. I am a retired homeowner, so let's see how this pans out for me.

  • Milking the rich is not a solution

    Milking the rich is not a solution

    I was saddened and disappointed to read The Sun's editorial regarding President Barack Obama's State of the Union address ("Mr. Obama's tax plan," Jan. 21).

  • Obama is a socialist, not a 'populist'

    Obama is a socialist, not a 'populist'

    President Barack Obama is a populist? How about cradle-to-grave socialist? There is no area of your life where government will not intrude, impose its will and dissipate any sense of individual responsibility you might have had left ("Obama turns populist in State of the Union speech," Jan. 21).