On Tuesday, Andover’s Philomathean Society (Philo) hosted a panel discussion on the ethics of “good business.”
The panel featured Thomas Hodgson, Instructor in Philosophy and Religious Studies, Carroll Perry, Instructor in History and Social Science and former banker, Edward Krapels P’12, entrepreneur, and Nadeem Mazen ’02, small business owner and spokesman for the Occupy Boston movement.
Hodgson brought the idea of the panel to Matt Lloyd-Thomas ’12, Co-Head of Philo. After reflecting on the current national and international economic and political climates, Hodgson wanted to share the issue of business ethics with the Andover community.
The panelists addressed what regulations should be created to keep the world economy not only safe from disaster but also protected from individual greed while still allowing for creativity and innovation within national economies.
Mazen, a former student of Hodgson, suggested buying locally as a way to make sure one’s money does not inadvertently go toward a harmful cause, such as a sweatshop overseas.
He also suggested purchasing products from budding entrepreneurs. Mazen said that supporting such creative individuals is vital to the restoration of a failed economy.
During the discussion, Hodgson noted, “It’s clear that the economic and political situations in the world are interconnected in ways that are problematic. The capture of the political system by certain interests is a matter of concern.”
To address this problem in the United States, Perry recommended that the government hire analysts to examine and evaluate current business regulations.
“We have to get people [in the public regulation sector] who play that role as a sort of a social auditor, people who distrust the system, who are there to ask these… difficult questions that nobody wants to answer,” he said.
Krapels agreed, adding that he hoped some Andover students would go on to fill the roles of regulators in the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission or in accounting firms that audit companies to ensure that these organizations operates without corruption.
He also questioned whether or not the U.S. would ever regain its status as a leader in manufacturing and artisanship. He said that American economy would thrive if the country focused on increasing domestic production, instead of shipping many manufacturing jobs overseas.
Krapels also encouraged students to explore entrepreneurship as a career path.
“I would highly recommend entrepreneurship–as long as you’re willing to live with uncertainty,” said Krapels. “America is the kind of a society in which you are expected to be an entrepreneur. Rather than shy away from that, I would encourage [students] to embrace that.”
Perry, who worked as an international banker before becoming a teacher at Andover, advised students to make sure that the jobs they accept are part of an ethical system. He said that he cannot remember asking himself this question.
Working on a Brazilian sugar plantation while serving in the Peace Corps sharpened Perry’s sense of social justice. His experience made him question why his fellowworkers had been relegated to a life of cutting cane.
Mazen recalled a similar compulsion to act after learning about various social issues from All-School Meeting speakers during his time at Andover. However, he also remembered lacking a place to put his inspiration to use.
Mazen said that taking part in the Occupy movement has now provided him with a way to turn inspiration into action and give himself and his colleagues a voice.
Amy Falls ’82, Charter Trustee and the school’s former Chief Investment Officer, was scheduled to appear on the panel but was unable to attend due to illness.