“Well written and an interesting perspective.” Clan Rossi --- “Your article is too good about Japanese business pushing nuclear power.” Consulting Group --- “Thank you for the article. It was quite useful for me to wrap up things quickly and effectively.” Taylor Johnson, Credit Union Lobby Management --- “Great information! I love your blog! You always post interesting things!” Jonathan N.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Bicycle Principle of Business Ethics: Walmart as Mediocre

I once bought a bike at Walmart.  To my chagrin, the bike had very little coasting ability. After riding down into a valley, I looked forward to some momentum on the up side. However, there was very little upside. Shortly after passing the lowest point, I would have to begin pedaling again.  In fact, if the down-hill was not steep, I had to pedal so as not to de-accelerate while going down hill.  In regard to Walmart, it could be concluded that not every product fits into a low-cost strategy (to say “cost-leadership” would gild the lily, besides engage in fad-jargon). While pedaling from the bottom of a hill just after having come down another, I constructed a young theory of business ethics.  Namely, that it was unethical for Walmart to sell the bicycle-brand (which I do not recall) because I deserved some coasting credit. You might say that if I didn’t have to pedal going down hill, I don’t deserve any “credit” in going up hill; the ease going down is paid for by the effort going up. However, even if I had not had to pedal while going downhill, I still would have believed that I deserved some “credit” on the up side. Why should I be exempted from benefiting from the laws of nature?  It is not fair if I am excluded from the phenomenon of mometentum through no fault of my own. Walmart had unwittingly put a wrench between me and momentum by essentially “spending” it by releasing it. So I was left with the impression of an asymetry that was unnatural. Of course, gravity and friction take their toll, so one can not expect to go without any effort on the up side.  But where a product eviscerates the benefits ensuing from a natural law, the product can be reckoned as inferior from the standpoint not only of quality, but as undeserved by any buyer.  There is thus a bicycle principle of ethics, which is a sort of naturalistic ethical theory based on the principles of fairness and desert–namely, that it is unfair to deprive certain people of public goods such as momentum while others indulge. An inferior product can be reckoned in such terms.