The Public Interest

Business Ethics: Experience Preferred

William McGurn

Fall 1984

IN THE NATION that best lays claim to the title “commercial republic,” the low esteem in which the populace holds the people and institutions that sustain commerce is more than a bit ironic. A few years ago, Ben Stein documented in his book The View from Sunset Boulevard how television fosters the stereotype of the businessman who would sell his mother for a buck, and even today—when the country is supposed to be turning right—the closest thing to a popular man of commerce is the double-dealing J.R. Ewing on “Dallas.” If one were to judge by the images of television, the general rule of American economic life would appear to be “do unto others before they do unto you.”

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