Good Business Needs Bad Lobbyists

The single-minded pursuit of profit is great and all. But maybe companies should tone it down when they get to Washington.

The rules of the game aren't set in stone.

Photographer: George Rose/Getty Images)

It’s pretty popular these days to dump on Milton Friedman’s famous claim that the social responsibility of business is to increase profits. So far, though, Friedman's core argument that corporate managers should focus on making money for their shareholders seems to have withstood the assault. Yes, lots of people in business have other goals, and even big corporations often do better if they define their purpose as something other than just making lots of money. Overall, though, successful businesses are socially useful in the sense that they bring growth, prosperity and opportunities for personal fulfillment -- and the most obvious common thread linking successful businesses is that they are, you know, profitable.

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