Liberals love to blame Milton Friedman for the misbehaviour of American corporations. The late economist, a free-market ideologue, published an essay 50 years ago last week in The Times Magazine in which he argued that corporations should not go beyond the letter of the law to combat discrimination or reduce pollution or maintain community institutions.
Corporations, he said, have no social responsibilities except the sacred responsibility to make money. The essay was a big hit with the executive class. Rich people were only too delighted to see selfishness portrayed as a principled stand.