Consider the following situations:
1. Our Leisure and Recreation facilities could be used for short-term profits through high transaction fees. We have the right to charge extreme rates on transactions. The fact that we have the right to do this does not make it right, or sound policy.
2. In our Oil and Energy field, we are free to concentrate on short term exploitation of oil and gas reserves, and we are under no legal obligation to look to long-term alternative solutions. Having the legal right to do this hardly makes it the right thing to do.
3. In our Internet communications system, we have the right to take the attitude that we are merely a passive provider, letting our users bear ful responsibility for the use or misuse of these resources. Having the right to do so does not make it right.
4. Our manufacturing division deals in alcoholic spirits. We have the legal right to exploit certain known vulnerable markets. Having the right to do so does not make it right.
Each of these situations presents a possibility of gain, primarily short term gain. As a publicly traded company, we can justify short-term gain to our shareholders by contending that policies which exploit our legal rights can result in increases in short-term profitability. As long-term matters, such actions are unethical and financially unwise.
Consider the first situation. In our casinos, we accept only chips are our gaming tables. Most customers use credit or debit cards to purchase these. We can impose very high transactions fees, particularly for the small users, purchasing for example $20 in chips, charging perhaps $5 per transaction. This will generate increased short-term profits, and is entirely legal. Similarly, we can install ATMs with high transaction fees, such as $5 per withdrawal. We can impose mandatory extra charges for meal, much higher than we are now charging. Given that the clientele in our casinos is effectively a captive audience, they may be displeased with these
fees, but they will pay them during their stays. The risk is that they will not come back. Explaining that we have a legal right to charge high fees will not endear us to dissatisfied customers, or to the travel agents who are effectively the life-blood of our business. Travel agents pay attention to these details, and we would do well to keep our fees on matters such as chip purchases and ATMs quite reasonable, and make that a selling point for the casinos, making up in increased volume anything that we lose in immediate revenue.1
In Oil and Gas, environmental concerns and global warming are serious growing concerns. We can position ourselves globally as on the cutting edge. Instead of chasing dwindling oil reserves, we can exploit new technologies.2 For example, solar energy is nearly competitive, and with reasonable research and development, it can be made quite profitable, even if this profit may be deferred for several years. I suggest that instead of continuing to sink huge costs into exploring for oil in increasingly costly and risky markets, we should negotiate purchases of real estate in west Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada, looking to build the world’s largest network of solar ranches.
Concerns over the communication of pornographic and violent imagery over the Internet, as net as the ongoing problem of spam have generated serious calls for internet regulation.3 While there is considerable lobbying against this, there is such pressure for it that eventual controls of some sort may be inevitable. Instead of being one more victim of this regulation, we can take a pro-active position. In doing so, we gain several advantages: first, we publicly position ourselves as being more than just another internet provider. We become the internet provider working with families for the protection of their children and their values.
Second, this will give us a very valuable position in shaping any regulation. Congress will not write internet regulations in isolation. It will look to lobbyists and industry experts for assistance in shaping regulations that are feasible. If DWI stands as the one company that is willing to assist in writing the regulations, while the bulk of the industry merely damns the entire idea, we will be the one company that Congress reaches out to. These will consultation on the content of the regulations, and they will have to cover the technology that is involved.
Our lobbying efforts could easily shape the technological aspects of these regulations to match technologies in which we have a large stake, while putting competitors at a huge disadvantage. Notably, the opposite will be true if we fail to stay ahead of this issue. While we might have higher profits in the short run by running a wide-open internet system and legally we have the right to do so. However, if our competitors convince the Congress to adopt a technology in which we have not invested, DWI could find itself at a serious competitive disadvantage. We should do the right, the responsible thing.
Of alcohol: there are ways of increasing our market share through product placement that will encourage excessive drinking. We do have the ability through our marketing expertise to increase our share around college campuses by encouraging binge drinking. As a short-term marketing matter, that will increase DWI’s profit.4 As a long-term strategy, we are better off positioning ourselves as the purveyors of quality products for the responsible consumer. Some temperance advocates will still not forgive us, but more consumers will endorse our reasonable and responsible attitude.
We are not under any legal obligation to adopt any of these polices, and from the standpoint of deontology ethics,5 the ethics of duty, we have the right to refuse to adopt these policies. We should adopt them because from the standpoint of a utilitarian approach, doing what provides the greatest good to the greatest number, we will be the beneficiaries of the good that we porduce.6
1. “Travel Agents Have More Influence: YPB&R Study,” Travel Agent, 2006, accessed Dec. 10, 2006. Available at <http://www.travelagentcentral.com/travelagentcentral/article/ articleDetail.jsp?id=385721>. Internet.2. Peter Hemberger, “Solar Power FAQs,” REPP-CREST Solar. Undated, accessed Dec. 10, 2006. Available at <http://www.crest.org/articles/static/1/995469913_2.html>. Internet.3. Senate Judiciary Committee, “Children, Violence, and the Media: A Report for Parents and Policy Makers,” Sept. 14, 1999, accessed Dec. 10, 2006. Available at <http://judiciary.senate.gov/oldsite/mediavio.htm>. Internet.4. “Advertising and Price Effects on Adolescent Drinking,” National Bureau of Econmic Research. Undated, accessed Dec. 10, 2006. Available at <http://www.nber.org/digest/nov03/w9676.html>. Internet.5. Robert Johnson, “Deontological Ethics.” Undatged, accessed Dec. 10, 2006. Avilable at <http://showme.missouri.edu/~philrnj/deon.html>. Internet.6. Claire Andre and Manuel Velasquez, “Calculating Consequences: The Utilitarian Approach to Ethics,” Santa Clara University, Markkula Center for Applied Etihics, orignally published in Issues in Ethics, 2:1 (winter 1989), accessed Dec. 10, 2006. Available at <http://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/iie/v2n1/calculating.html>. Internet.
“Advertising and Price Effects on Adolescent Drinking.” National Bureau of Econmic Research. Undated, accessed Dec. 10, 2006. Available at <http://www.nber.org/digest /nov03/w9676.html>. Internet.
Andre, Claire and Manuel Velasquez. “Calculating Consequences: The Utilitarian Approach to Ethics.” Santa Clara University, Markkula Center for Applied Etihics. Originally published in Issues in Ethics, 2:1 (winter 1989), accessed Dec. 10, 2006. Available at <http://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/iie/v2n1/calculating.html>. Internet.
Hemberger, Peter. “Solar Power FAQs.” REPP-CREST Solar. Undated, accessed Dec. 10, 2006. Available at <http://www.crest.org/articles/static/1/995469913_2.html>. Internet.
Johnson, Robert. “Deontological Ethics.” Undated, accessed Dec. 10, 2006. Available at <http://showme.missouri.edu/~philrnj/deon.html>. Internet.
Senate Judiciary Committee. “Children, Violence, and the Media: A Report for Parents and Policy Makers.” September 14, 1999, accessed Dec. 10, 2006. Available at <http://judiciary.senate.gov/oldsite/mediavio.htm>. Internet.
“Travel Agents Have More Influence: YPB&R Study,” Travel Agent, 2006, accessed Dec. 10, 2006. Available at <http://www.travelagentcentral.com/travelagentcentral/article /articleDetail.jsp?id=385721>. Internet.