Gestern hatte ich an dieser Stelle die Definition von ESG und die sich daraus ergebenden konkreten Überlegungen zur Umsetzung. Heute möchte ich an die Diskussion von vor 50 Jahren erinnern. Kein Geringerer als Nobelpreisträger Milton Friedman äußerte sich in einem Gastbeitrag für die The New York Times zum Zweck von Unternehmen. Natürlich hatte er damals nicht den Klimaschutz im Blick und mit ziemlicher Sicherheit würde er sich heute dafür aussprechen, die Externalitäten – also die Umweltkosten – zu internalisieren, zum Beispiel über CO2-Abgaben und Zertifikate. Den Weg der Regulierung, wie er heute gegangen wird, hielte er sicherlich für falsch.
1970 gab es andere Probleme bei den Unternehmen. In vielen Fällen haben die Manager damals eine zu üppige Selbstversorgung betrieben: Firmenflugzeuge und hohe Spesen waren an der Tagesordnung. Damit will ich nicht sagen, dass es so etwas heute nicht mehr gibt und auch nicht, dass Manager nicht auch heute versuchen, den eigenen Bonus zu steigern, was hinter den Aktienkaufprogrammen in vielen Fällen steht. 1970 hingegen war es ein breiteres Problem, vor allem auch, weil die Aktionäre lange Jahre mit negativen Erträgen hinter sich hatten.
Lesen wir, was damals gedacht wurde (und heute meines Erachtens noch immer gilt):
- „(…) businessmen believe that they are defending free enterprise when they declaim that business is not concerned “merely” with profit but also with promoting desirable ‘social’ ends; that business has a ‘social conscience’ and takes seriously its responsibilities for providing employment, eliminating discrimination, avoiding pollution and whatever else may be the catchwords of the contemporary crop of reformers. In fact they are (…) preaching pure and unadulterated socialism. Businessmen who talk this way are unwitting puppets of the intellectual forces that have been undermining the basis of a free society these past decades.“ – bto: Jetzt muss man sich daran erinnern, dass zehn Jahre später die Wirtschaft im Westen so schlecht dastand, dass mit Reagan und Thatcher radikale Reformen nötig wurden.
- „The discussions of the ‘social responsibilities of business’ are notable for their analytical looseness and lack of rigor. What does it mean to say that ‘business’ has responsibilities? Only people can have responsibilities. A corporation is an artificial person and in this sense may have artificial responsibilities, but ‘business’ as a whole cannot be said to have responsibilities, even in this vague sense. The first step toward clarity in examining the doctrine of the social responsibility of business is to ask precisely what it implies for whom.“ – bto: Das ist ein lohnendes Ziel. Ich will dem Thema auf den Grund gehen.
- „In a free‐enterprise, private‐property system, a corporate executive is an employe 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 while conforming to the basic rules of the society, both those embodied in law and those embodied in ethical custom. Of course, in some cases his employers may have a different objective. A group of persons might establish a corporation for an eleemosynary purpose—for example, a hospital or school. The manager of such a corporation will not have money profit as his objective but the rendering of certain services.“ – bto: Dazu gehört naturgemäß nicht die Maximierung des Gewinns in einem kurzen Zeitraum, sondern die nachhaltige Maximierung. Wenn sich also abzeichnet, dass aufgrund von Rahmenbedingungen eine bestimmte Art, das Geschäft zu betreiben, nicht mehr funktioniert, dann reagiert das Management. Wenn also die Klimafrage zu höheren Kosten oder Risiken führt, ist der Anreiz zum Handeln da. Dies setzt voraus, dass die Konsequenzen nicht zu weit entfernt und zu abstrakt sind. Und hier hilft die Politik in der Tat, weil sie über CO2-Preise die Kosten früher sichtbar macht.
- „Of course, the corporate executive is also a person in his own right. As a person, he may have many other responsibilities that he recognizes or assumes voluntarily—to his family, his conscience, his feelings of charity, his church, his clubs, his city, his country. He may feel impelled by these responsibilities to devote part of his income to causes he regards as worthy, to refuse to work for particular corporations, even to leave his job, for example, to join his country’s armed forces. If we wish, we may refer to some of these responsibilities as ‘social responsibilities.’ But in these respects he is acting as a principal, not an agent; he is spending his own money or time or energy, not the money of his employers or the time or energy he has contracted to devote to their purposes. If these are ‘social responsibilities,’ they are the social responsibilities of individuals, not of business.“ – bto: Friedman ist hier ganz klar und dies zu Recht. Er wehrt sich gegen Vermischen von Aufgaben.
- „What does it mean to say that the corporate executive has a ‘social responsibility’ in his capacity as businessman? If this statement is not pure rhetoric, it must mean that he is to act in some way that is not in the interest of his employers. For example, that he is to refrain from increasing the price of the product in order to contribute to the social objective of preventing inflation, even though a price increase would be in the best interests of the corporation. Or that he is to make expenditures on reducing pollution beyond the amount that is in the best interests of the corporation or that is required by law in order to contribute to the social objective of improving the en vironment. Or that, at the expense of corporate profits, he is to hire ‘hard core’ unemployed instead of better qualified available workmen to contribute to the social objective of reducing poverty.“ – bto: Und genau diese Ziele werden zunehmend gefordert – ESG. Und damit die Arbeitgeber, also die Aktionäre, nicht weglaufen, zwingt man diese ebenfalls, so zu investieren. Das passt zur staatlichen Planwirtschaft.
- „Insofar as his actions in accord with his ‘social responsibility’ reduce returns to stock holders, he is spending their money. Insofar as his actions raise the price to customers, he is spending the customers’ money. Insofar as his actions lower the wages of some employes, he is spending their money. (…) if he does this, he is in effect imposing taxes, on the one hand, and deciding how the tax proceeds shall be spent, on the other.“ – bto: So ist es und es zeigt, worum es geht: um eine Umverteilung von Ressourcen auf einem indirekten Wege.
- „(…) the imposition of taxes and the expenditure of tax proceeds are governmental functions. We have established elaborate constitutional, parliamentary and judicial provisions to control these functions, to assure that taxes are imposed so far as possible in accordance with the preferences and desires of the public— after all, ‘taxation without representation’ was one of the battle cries of the American Revolution. (…) Here the businessman—self‐selected or appointed directly or indirectly by stockholders—is to be simultaneously legislator, executive and jurist. He is to decide whom to tax by how much and for what purpose, and he is to spend the proceeds—all this guided only by general exhortations from on high to restrain inflation, improve the environment, fight poverty and so on and on.“ – bto: Heute sind es gesellschaftlicher Druck und politische Vorgaben wie ESG. Doch auch wenn diese politisch sind, gilt die Kritik von Friedman, weil es intransparent ist, wer die Steuer bezahlt und wer den Nutzen bekommt.
- „The (…) the corporate (…) becomes in effect a public employe, a civil servant, even though he remains in name an employe of private enterprise. On grounds of political principle, it is intolerable that such civil servants—insofar as their actions in the name of social responsibility are real and not just window‐dressing—should be selected as they are now. If they are to be civil servants, then they must be selected through a political process. If they are to impose taxes and make expenditures to foster ‘social’ objectives, then political machinery must be set up to guide the assessment of taxes and to determine through a political process the objectives to be served.“ – bto: Das beginnt bereits mit den Quoten: heute für Frauen, morgen für Menschen mit Migrationshintergrund, übermorgen für Menschen mit bestimmten Glaubensrichtungen oder bestimmten sexuellen Orientierungen usw.
- „This is the basic reason why the doctrine of ‘social responsibility’ involves the acceptance of the socialist view that political mechanisms, not market mechanisms, are the appropriate way to determine the allocation of scarce resources to alternative uses.“ – bto: Und diese Sicht dominiert heute eindeutig.
- “On the grounds of consequences, can the corporate executive in fact discharge his alleged ‘social responsibilities’? On the one hand, suppose he could get away with spending the stockholders’ or customers’ or employes’ money. How is he to know how to spend it? He is told that he must contribute to fighting inflation. How is he to know what action of his will contribute to that end? (…) The difficulty of exercising “social responsibility” illustrates, of course, the great virtue of private competitive enterprise — it forces people to be responsible for their own actions and makes it difficult for them to “exploit” other people for either selfish or unselfish purposes. They can do good—but only at their own expense.“ – bto: Und das ist auch richtig so. Jedes Vermengen von Zuständigkeiten und Verantwortung lädt ein zu Missbrauch und Ineffizienz.
- „Many a reader who has followed the argument this far may be tempted to remonstrate that it is all well and good to speak of government’s having the responsibility to impose taxes and determine expenditures for such ‘social’ purposes as controlling pollution or training the hard‐core unemployed, but that the problems are too urgent to wait on the slow course of political processes, that the exercise of social responsibility by businessmen is a quicker and surer way to solve pressing current problems.“ – bto: Das hat er 1970 geschrieben! Das Argument ist äußerst aktuell, hören wir es doch täglich.
- „Aside from the question of fact—I share Adam Smith’s skepticism about the benefits that can be expected from ‘those who affected to trade for the public good’—this argument must be rejected on grounds of principle. What it amounts to is an assertion that those who favor the taxes and expenditures in question have failed to persuade a majority of their fellow citizens to be of like mind and that they are seeking to attain by undemocratic procedures what they cannot attain by democratic procedures. In a free society, it is hard for ‘good’ people to do ‘good,’ but that is a small price to pay for making it hard for ‘evil’ people to do ‘evil,’ especially since one man’s good is anther’s evil.“ – bto: So ist es. Gerade mit dem Klimathema werden wir in eine unfreie Gesellschaft geführt.
- „(…) in practice the doctrine of social responsibility is frequently a cloak for actions that are justified on other groundsrather than a reason for those actions. To illustrate, it may well be in the long‐run interest of a corporation that is a major employer in a small community to devote resources to providing amenities to that community or to improving its government. That may make it easier to at tract desirable employes, it may reduce the wage bill or lessen losses from pilferage and sabotage or have other worthwhile effects. (…) In each of these cases, there is a strong temptation to rationalize these actions as an exercise of “social responsibility.” In the present climate of opinion, with its widespread aversion to ‘capitalism,’ ‘profits,’ the ‘soulless corporation’ and so on, this is one way for a corporation to generate goodwill as a by‐product of expenditures that are entirely justified in its own self‐interest.“ – bto: Auch das klingt erschreckend aktuell!
- „(…) 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. I have been impressed time and again by the schizophrenic character of many businessmen. They are capable of being extremely far‐sighted and clear‐headed in matters that are internal to their businesses. They are incredibly short sighted and muddle‐headed in matters that are outside their businesses but affect the possible survival of business in general.“ – bto: Das kann man heute sehr gut beobachten. Nehmen wir als Beispiel die US-Firma Lululemon, die Yoga-Hosen für bis zu 300 Dollar verkauft und sich dann in öffentlichen Erklärungen für die Überwindung des Kapitalismus ausspricht …
- „The short‐sightedness is also exemplified in speeches by business men on social responsibility. This may gain them kudos in the short run. But it helps to strengthen the already too prevalent view that the persuit of profits is wicked and im moral and must be curbed and controlled by external forces. Once this view is adopted, the external forces that curb the market will not be the social consciences, however highly developed, of the pontificating executives; it will be the iron fist of Government bureaucrats. Here, as with price and wage controls, business men seem to me to reveal a suicidal impulse.“ – bto: Nehmen wir Herrn Altmaier mit seiner Klima- und Wirtschafts”garantie”.
- „The political principle that under lies the market mechanism is unanimity. In an ideal free market resting on private property, no individual can coerce any other, all cooperation is voluntary, all parties to such cooperation benefit or they need not participate. There are no ‘social’ values, no ‘social’ responsibilities in any sense other than the shared values and responsibilities of individuals.“ – bto: Freiheit ist die Grundlage der Marktwirtschaft. Natürlich hat der Staat eine wichtige Aufgabe beim Setzen von Rahmenbedingungen, vor allem zum Schutz von Eigentum, zur Sicherung von fairem Wettbewerb (Kartellamt!) und bei der Internalisierung externer Kosten (Umwelt, etc.).
- „The political principle that underlies the political mechanism is conformity. The individual must serve more general social interest— whether that be determined by church or a dictator or a majority. The individual may have a vote and a say in what is to be done, but if he is overruled, he must conform. It is appropriate for some to require others to contribute to a general social purpose whether they wish to or not.” – bto: Und dafür haben wir Wahlen. Wenn nun aber NGOs oder die sogenannte “Zivilgesellschaft” mehr Einfluss bekommen, so ist auch dies nicht demokratisch.
- „(…) the doctrine of ‘social responsibility’ taken seriously would extend the scope of the political mechanism to every human activity. It does not differ in philosophy from the most explicitly collectivist doctrine. (…) 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 fraud.”– bto: Und das gilt auch heute noch.