Taxand's Global Conference Discusses Capitalism - Liberation or Exploitation?
NYU professor outlines how to use moral psychology to understand the politics driving change in many western countries

At the 8th Annual Taxand Global Conference in Dublin this morning, Jonathan Haidt, Professor at New York University's Stern School of Business, provided a top level overview of moral psychology and how to use it to better understand the politics driving change in many countries. He outlined his view on the ongoing debate over the ethics of capitalism and how there are the two contradictory viewpoints about capitalism circulating in western society in recent years.

Professor Haidt stated, “One sees capitalism as liberation, and therefore demands that governments step back and let markets and entrepreneurs work their magic with only minimal interference. The other perspective sees capitalism as exploitation where businesses exploit their workers, sidestep regulations, and foist external costs onto workers.  This second view has more recently been extended to matters of global corporate taxation and the discourse around morality/capitalism.

He continued by saying that he believes that if people in democratic societies can think more calmly and flexibly about capitalism, business, and economics, they will be less prone to taking uncompromising partisan positions.  Furthermore if economic conversations become less polarized and more pragmatic, economic policies will improve and prosperity will rise. 

Professor Haidt concluded his remarks by saying, “There is no one right form of capitalism, no form that is ideal for all countries. But there are many bad forms and many bad ideas that can doom countries to a downward spiral. Building the right operating environment for multinationals which combines freedom to operate and generate economic prosperity, with a level of oversights that doesn’t allow them to exploit the system, would be the perfect balance.”

Frédéric Donnedieu de Vabres, Chairman of Taxand added, “Taxand comprises tax advisors from across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas who advise multinational businesses on the tax issues affecting their international businesses. We are delighted that Professor Haidt joined us in Dublin for this important conference and I have no doubt that today’s audience took away learnings which will better equip clients and advisors in their approach to global business.”.

Martin Phelan, Head of Tax at William Fry, Taxand Ireland commented that, “As the business world evolves it is incumbent on us to work together to help build the optimum operating environment for multinationals that works for both business owners and the workers.  Professor Haidt’s presentation brought to the forefront how we play a part in improving the landscape”.


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