Response to NY Times Op-Ed: “Is Banking Bad?”

Response to NY Times Op-Ed: “Is Banking Bad?”

Kathleen Paylor, Founder and Chief Spiritual Officer, Conscious Capital, LLC

Rarely do I find myself disagreeing with Nick Kristof, but I must make an exception in response to his New York Times January 18 Op-Ed, “Is Banking Bad?” Kristof is asking the wrong questions and, not surprisingly, coming up with the wrong answers. Banking isn’t inherently evil, but Adam Smith’s Economics and modern capitalism leave little room for the judgment, balance and principles for which Kristof calls. In fact, there are legal imperatives that render such character traits liabilities. The single bottom line to which banking and business are beholden mandates that they seek financial profit at any cost, and then we are surprised when the externalization of costs ravages the environment, but we should not be.

Environmental destruction and the behavior that produces it is legally required and very well compensated in our current corporate, banking and tax system. Any decision to internalize costs or pursue more balanced paths to profit that factor in the external costs will almost inevitably result in lawsuits. Change in banking and business will likely come from without, from legislative and policy changes like the recent Benefit Corporation structure that allows for the legal consideration of multiple bottom lines like the society and the environment. The choice over CARE and Citigroup is a false dichotomy. There are many areas, most notably the rapidly growing social enterprise arena, where business oriented graduates can find challenging and rewarding vocations enriched by the knowledge that they are doing both good and well.

Kathleen Paylor is the Founder and Chief Spiritual Officer of Conscious Capital LLC.