The writer finds grounds for CEO political activism in an unlikely place:
Economist Milton Friedman, in his 1970 essay on corporate social responsibility advised: “It may well be in the long‐run interest of a corporation that is a major employer in a small community to devote resources to providing amenities to that community or to improving its government. That may make it easier to attract desirable employees, it may reduce the wage bill or lessen losses from pilferage and sabotage or have other worthwhile effects.”
I agree with Friedman, but would emphasize the limited scope of the observation, not seek to expand upon it. After all, the title of the original (brief) essay was, “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits.”
The point of the quotation is to show that it might be advantageous for a business to behave in ways that look or might be described as “socially responsible,” but that even there increasing profits remains the one true and justifiable purpose, according to Friedman.
I’m sure the writer — a management professor at Yale — knows all this quite thoroughly. But that makes his argument entirely baffling. Does he really mean that trying to increase profits justifies political activism?
Beyond a basic commitment to the rule of law and a healthy patriotism, I can’t imagine it.