An Improper Comparison

by John Higgins | 5/7/03 5:00am

To the Editor:

Mr. Sehgal's remarks in his April 28 column "Three Lessons from a Profile in Courage," concerning Governors Roy Barnes of Georgia and David Beasley of South Carolina and Representative Dan Ponder, Jr. of Georgia were appreciated in this corner. I too admire those who will not subordinate their principles and ideals when faced with the prospect of unpleasant or even life-threatening consequences.

However, while I do not believe that President Kennedy was a person whose principles and ideals should stand without question, I find it absurd to equate the corporate philosophy guiding Nordstrom, Walt Disney or 3M with the honorable acts performed by the aforementioned men -- not to mention other recipients of this prestigious award. It occurs to me that in order for the boards of directors and CEOs of these mega-companies to qualify for Profiles In Courage awards, they would have to radically change their corporate practices. For instance, they would pay all of their employees wages that reflect the overall worth of the company -- not just themselves, create products that are in the best interest of preserving the planet and human health and employ as many people as possible so that their good fortune could be put to the best use, among other things.

But of course this won't happen because these people aren't interested in Profiles in Courage awards. The reason for the existence of these companies is to make money, and the greed and manipulation of people needed to make the extravagant amounts of money that these companies earn probably wouldn't make the cut when reviewed by the award's selection committee. If they did, then Roy Barnes would have been chosen to receive his award not for his courage, but for his good sense to keep his governor's salary instead of becoming unemployed.