It comes as no surprise that, with its history of business, America is more conservative than it's European allies. To put things in perspective, the current liberal desire for healthcare reform is seen as a no-brainer in the majority of Europe, and in France, tuition is a thing of the past, as yearly costs are only 150-700EUR. True to its roots, the United States focuses much more on private institutions, shown in the excellence and fame of the Ivy League. At the K-12 level, even the public schools are run as if they were businesses, striving to meet 'production quotas' of students graduating, taking advanced courses, and meeting standardized benchmarks.
I, for one, am a bit put off by the idea that the educational system, which is created to help children become more knowledgable than they would be otherwise, is being treated as a business. Undeniably, education is intertwined with future quality of life. Just compare someone that never went to any surt of educational intitution with a college graduate. Not only will they likely be more successful in the usual benchmarks: career, money, luxuries, but also in their mental quality. An educated mind is more open to the world, and has a greater understand of the way it works. Anything that can influence the standard of a person's life in such a great manner, I believe, should not be concerned only with profit margins and shareholders. I propose that such insitutions are in the business of morality.
This term distinguishes common corporations, such as the myriad of fast food industries, or chain department stores, pretty much anything that a child's mother could say "No," to. Basically, goods and services that, without, the life of the average person would not suffer. If I don't buy that pack of Twizzlers, I'll be okay. If I don't pick up that pack of pens, I'll be fine. If I leave this book at the store, nothing bad will happen. These are normal businesses, selling consumers goods that they want, but don't need. This is fine, in fact, it's the way most businesses are. What about, however, the businesses that do sell things that people need? To find that out, you need only look at oil companies during the gas crises of the 1970s and of 2008. In an effort to raise profits, these companies artificially inflated the price of gasoline, and it worked, giving oil companies record-shattering profits. But why? In a normal situation, say if McDonald's decided to raise the price of a Big Mac to $20.00, the consumers would simply stop buying. McDonald's would see their error, and work to rectify it. However, to simply stop buying gasoline was not an option. Urban sprawl, coupled with the American family's reliance on cars for transportation, ensured that the buyer base would become disgruntled, but was not able to enforce the natural law of supply and demand.
Publilius Syrus said that "everything is worth what it's purchaser will pay for it." This maxim holds true in convential businesses, as I mentioned previously, but in situation like these gas crises, perhaps it should be amended to "everything is worth what it's purchaser believes is a fair price." Perhaps someone views a $20.00 Big Mac as a fair price, but the majority of people do not, and would never buy one. Perhaps someone views $4.00 per gallon of gas as a fair price, but the majority of people do not. However, they will pay it anyway, because to do otherwise would be disasterous to their quality of life.
This idea can be expanded to include raw materials producers, who are necessary for huge numbers of industries. The airplane manufacturing companies would fall to pieces if aluminum prices were to spike, as would computer hardware manufacturers if the price of silicon chips rose; and just imagine what would happen if steel prices shot up as gas prices did. For this reason, many European countries have regulations to ensure that these corporations never cause a disaster in an attempt to enhance profit margins.
Businesses of morality can also be those that render important services to customers, such as electricity, transportation, or education, as mentioned previously. Without any of these services, the standard of living of their customers would deteriorate greatly, as opposed to if they had been deprived of a conventionjal business ervice, such as maid service or that of a groundskeeper. These services have, in the modern age, been transitioned from being simple services to being rights. The problem with these businesses of morality is that they are constantly being torn between the pursuit of greater profit and the pursuit to help their customers. If an electricity company rises prices, it is possible that some of their customers simply will not be able to afford it, and will lose their electricity access. However, the losses incurred from losing these customers will almost certainly be recuperated by the increased payments of the remaining customer base, along with a healthy bit of profit. The only thing stopping the company from doing this is their desire to provide their services to their customers, and the temptation is always there.
N.B. According to a 2006 study published in the academic journal Health Affairs, for-profit hospitals have risen from 11% of all hospitals in the early 1990s to 16%.