Quotations from Watson and Friedman


We accept our responsibilities as a corporate citizen in community, national and world affairs; we serve our interests best when we serve the public interest. . . . We acknowledge our obligation as a business institution to help improve the quality of the society we are part of. We want to be in the forefront of those companies which are working to make the world a better place.

— Thomas J. Watson, Jr., 1969
President of IBM[1]


The use of the cloak of social responsibility, and the nonsense spoken in its name by influential and prestigious businessmen, does clearly harm the foundations of a free society. . . . there is one and only one social responsibility of business — to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.

— Milton Friedman, 1970
Founder of the “Chicago school of economics” [2]

See more in Chapter 8 of Tony Mayo’s novel, Crimes of Cunning: A comedy of personal and political transformation in the deteriorating American workplace.


[1]https://www-03.ibm.com/ibm/history/exhibits/watsonjr/watsonjr_quoted2.html or http://goo.gl/4g0U6v
[2] In this article he quoted himself, “there is one and only one … without deception or fraud.” from Capitalism and Freedom: Fortieth Anniversary Edition Paperback – Deluxe Edition (University of Chicago Press, 2002), p. 133. (First published in 1962.)
Also, “[A] corporate executive is an employe [sic] of the owners of the business. He has direct responsibility to his employers. That responsibility is to conduct the business in accordance with their desires, which generally will be to make as much money as possible. . . . The whole justification for permitting the corporate executive to be selected by the stockholders is that the executive is an agent serving the interests of his principal.”
–Milton Friedman, “The Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits,” The New York Times Magazine (Sept. 13, 1970), p. 32-33, 122-124.

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