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A proper sense of priorities

American Thinker: Community service is not what made America great.

Reading the Institute of Directors' journal over lunch today my heart began to sink. Almost every story seemed to reference "social enterprise," companies' "green credentials" or "corporate social responsibility." Our "educators," the media and the luvvies of the art world have long preached that what is done for love is better than what is done for money. That this is now unchallenged even by the IOD makes it no less wrong.

I was considering how to articulate this controversial idea to my tender-hearted readers when a post by Washington Rebel saved me the trouble. It led me to this perfect statement by American Thinker. I have added that site to my daily reading list on the basis of three splendid paragraphs:

All we have is our time and our talents. We trade those for either money, pleasure or for service to others. Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with trading a lot of your time and talent for money. In fact, until you have met all of your financial obligations to your family and your creditors, that is exactly how you should spend the majority of your time and talents. That is not greed. That is maturity.

Then and only then are you in a position to spend more of your time and talents in pleasurable or charitable pursuits. That's not to say you can't coach little league or go fishing until your mortgage is paid off -- it is to say that if you are living off the fruits of others while volunteering or agitating "for free," you are really not a volunteer at all. You are a mooch.

You are running up society's credit card but making yourself feel more virtuous than those actually paying for your habit because you are "not in it for the money."

Of course, those who choose to "give back" or "make a social contribution" are the moral superiors of those who spend their free time in idle pleasure. However, the key phrase is "free time." Time is only morally "free" after duties have been fulfilled and our first duty is to support ourselves and our dependents. If we are deploying the capital of others in our business life, then safeguarding it and delivering the highest legal return is (or should be) also a top priority. If the shareholders want to give their money to charity, they have the right to do so. The custodians of that money have no such right.

A corporate leader crowing about "corporate social responsibility" is on a moral par with a politician boasting of his "generosity" with taxpayers' cash. It is hypocrisy at best and fraud at worst.

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