Desperate Economy Requires Different Solutions

What is causing all this upheaval in the economy? Most authorities think it is related to the withdrawal of all credit due to wholesale granting of mortgages to people who could never be expected to repay them. All this has happened since about 1995 when the government decided to provide housing to everyone who wanted a home. When the defaults began, lenders stopped lending, foreclosures were everywhere, no one could buy a house anymore, and home prices began a steep drop which is continuing right now. What will make the economy begin to revive? Nobody has any idea how to reverse the course of our economy. We are all going to have to live through this somehow. But what can we do? There’s no money!

The news continues to be frightening. Just today the Labor Department announced the loss of over 500,000 jobs in November alone. Since the recession started last December (2007) more than two million positions have gone away. This is a catastrophe for many households because one income is not enough to support the lifestyle of most families in the US today. Labor experts say more losses are likely in the next few months and their forecast is for slow hiring recovery even when the economy begins to turn up. This article is about doing something to remain positive and upbeat through the current time of trouble.

On this blog we promote a positive attitude. Negative thinking obscures the best ways to solve a problem. It’s like a dark curtain spread over the world where you can’t see any way to do anything. Here are some positive steps you can take to help get through the recession. If you try some of these ideas you may create a new and more rewarding career for yourself. Action is a major cure for negativism, so do something. If you fail at first, just keep on trying. If you don’t try you will never do anything.

The following ideas require some form of working for yourself, probably from your home in the beginning. But, you say, “A home based business will not work!” That’s true, so everyone says except successful entrepreneurs. What do your parents, your friends, your church, your school, and everyone else you know tell you about working in any way for yourself? Nobody can do it! That’s what they say. You have to work hard, get into a well-paying profession, stay with it for 40 years and retire with a large pension. It is no longer possible to work anywhere for 40 years; average time in one job is three to five years. Now, to have any kind of retirement, one must begin a systematic saving and investment program very early in life and stick with it until retirement.

What’s wrong with that picture? When people first begin to work retirement isn’t anywhere in the thinking universe. Many owe tremendous amounts for college loans plus credit card debt; in an article on the Bankrate.com website Lucy Lazarony says the average college student owes $2,200 on credit cards and graduate students owe even more, $5,800. Paying the minimum it would take over 12 years to pay off $1,000; go figure how long it will take to pay off larger balances. Add student loans and the average student owes a total of $20,402 so says Credit Card Research Program, quite a lot of money for a beginning employee to repay. The point is, new graduates aren’t thinking of saving. They want things like cars, boats, clothes, to get married, or to buy a home. And they still have those student loans and an ever-increasing credit card debt to repay. There’s no money to invest; not for many years, maybe not ever.

Now what happens with the few young beginners who have the self-control to begin a serious investment program? All investments carry risk; that’s why they pay you for making them. Many investment vehicles are available from real estate, mutual funds, stock market, all kinds of hedge funds, commodities, you name it. Most people have decided on 401k plans or mutual funds as being the safest way to go; but even these fairly safe plans have been hit with scandals like Enron and all the other accounting scams of the past few years. All these things have caused the value of retirement funds to plunge and sometimes to disappear entirely. You just can’t depend on any one source for continuing wealth if you aren’t working. Just look at what has happened to all investment plans since September of this year-they have lost 50% or more of their value. That’s a hit that can’t be recovered for many people, particularly those near retirement. They just won’t be able to retire at all.

“Well”, you say, “if I become a doctor or lawyer I’ll be self-employed and make a lot of money. I don’t have to worry about being an employee and be told what to do by others. I can keep the money I make and I’ll never have worries about money.” One of the top financial institutions in the US instructs all its agents and salesmen to not call on doctors, lawyers, or other professional people. Why? They all have nice homes, new cars, boats, and they are active in community life. They should be excellent prospects for investments. But they aren’t!

These professionals owe a lot of money for school and for those fine houses and cars and boats. Dartmouth Medical School says 35% of new doctors owe at least $150,000. They are expected to maintain a certain lifestyle and they will have children who need to go to college. Do the math and you will see most doctors will be approaching 60 when they begin to emerge from their mountain of debt. This is why the salesmen are advised not to call on professionals; they have absolutely no money!

This also means for most of their lives doctors and other professionals are not self-employed. They work for the host of lenders who have furnished money, they work for the community that expects a certain lifestyle, they work for the automobile and boat dealers who sold them their toys, and they work for the colleges educating their children. They are bound by their financial restraints so they aren’t self-employed at all. They work for all these other people. This is why people should be starting a home based business as early in life as they can, which is right now.

Even though people still have the same old mental obstacles to self-employment, there are new urgent reasons why everyone should be getting their home business started whether online or off. These operations need time to begin bringing in money; you can’t just kick-start them and expect an automatic fountain of money. You can do this on a part time basis which is a very good idea if you are unsure about your own business. Find out which ideas will work without risking very much.

What are these new and urgent problems facing us all? You really need to pay attention to this. There are ongoing issues in every business with respect to work and these problems will remain during any recovery and long after it goes away. First is the frightening move toward employers dictating everything an employee does at home or anywhere else. The latest development of this issue is the smoking ban initiated by the Michigan company Weyco. As a result of its firing of several workers a Michigan legislator has introduced “lifestyle legislation” banning an employer from firing people for legal activities away from the workplace. Only a few states have such laws and the federal law covers only race, religion, or gender. The lawmaker rightfully has addressed the possibility of extension of this concept to many other areas like drinking beer or clothing unacceptable to an employer. Other current high profile issues could include weight control, social behavior, and political correctness in speech or actions. Do you really believe anyone should be able to tell an employee how to act in a legal way off the job? Disgusting!

September 11, 2001, has given extreme emphasis on public illness fearing a terrorist act of some kind that can make millions sick. This Homeland Security issue is certainly well-taken. But when these concerns are added to the availability of flu vaccine many people have begun to place great emphasis on workplace germ issues. All the news media have addressed public concerns about communicating disease among those around you. On NBCs Today Show, February 16, 2005, Al Roker said employees coming to work sick has been estimated to cost employers $159 billion a year! I totally agree people should stay home if they are sick. BUT what about hourly workers? The NBC show says, for example, flu usually lasts five or six days but workers usually come back in less than two days. No work no pay, they starve to death. So what if employers start firing employees who come in sick despite warnings? These guys have to eat. So the employer gives paid sick leave even to hourly people; an employee uses it more often than the employer thinks is necessary and is fired. Who can work in constant fear of getting a bad cold and being forced into a pay cut or loss of a job?

Another serious issue for workers is offshoring of jobs to cheaper developing countries. This has the ability to affect any job that can be entirely done by telephone, like customer service, or on a computer like most programming and Information Technology (IT) jobs. Public Citizen reports there are no hard facts about the total number of US jobs lost or to be lost, but they do give these data:

Gartner Group says 10 percent of technology jobs will be offshore by 2005.
Gartner also says 25 percent of traditional IT jobs will go by 2010.
AT Kearney believes 500,000 (8%) jobs in banking, brokerage, and insurance will be offshored by May, 2008.

Can you afford not to hedge yourself against this happening to your Job? I don’t think so.

Now here come the robots and computer-operated machines. A few years ago I observed at first hand the effects of automation on the textile industry in the US. Hosiery knitting machines used to be operated by one operator for eight or ten machines and a mechanic who looked after maybe 20 machines. Then came high speed electronic machines where several hundred could be controlled by one person at a panel, and one mechanic could often repair problems from a remote computer console. Changing patterns, formerly an extremely labor-intensive process, could now be done in just a few minutes with a software program. The textile industry is nearly extinct in the US at this time.

The hosiery experience has formed an image in my mind of very large buildings with thousands of machines operated, at some point in the future, by maybe two or three people. So two or three people will replace thousands of workers who will have no jobs as we know them. In this factory computers connected to robots will receive orders and transmit them to the proper equipment for production; robots will then ship the products to wherever they are required, no human hands involved. Farfetched? Look at some of the unbelievable things already in the works. Doctors are being assisted by surgical robots in many medical environments, Japanese are developing robots to care for elderly people, and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History has used a robotic tour guide. Development has begun on a desktop robot system capable of producing just about anything we use in our daily lives and others are developing a robot system that can build entire buildings. The list is limited only by the imagination of technicians.

Whatever happens, jobs are being eliminated worldwide, possibly including yours. The doctors and medical technicians are already at risk as are accountants and tax preparers; tax return and accounting software eliminates accounting jobs and medical robots will reduce demand for careers in medicine. Stock brokers, legal research, and programming jobs are all either going to developing countries or they will be replaced by web services or software that does their work; less demand for any of these people.

What these developing issues mean is work as we know it is likely to cease, or at least drastically change. In a few years (we don’t know how many or how few) there may be no office or manufacturing jobs for people to use for income. We have seen that even service and professional occupations are endangered; there is already a robot vacuum cleaner available for home use. So what are people to do? How will they pay for their needs?

There are some who say the US workforce will not be able to meet demand for workers in a few years; others say there are plenty of workers. The facts are the workforce probably isn’t declining, it is just growing at a very slow rate. Some say greater productivity will cover the shortfall of employees. If the worker replacement ideas we’ve discussed actually take place most jobs will be eliminated and there won’t be a need for ANY workers. If automation doesn’t do this and there is a greater demand for employees many say increased productivity will compensate for any shortfall. Either way employees will lose. If there are no jobs workers will have no income. If productivity is used to overcome a worker shortage, employees will become overworked and underpaid; they will burn out and be useless. Not a good scenario; there really is no upside.

Reality is- none of these extremes is likely to happen, at least not in the short run, but there probably will be increasing job loss pressure in the workplace. The government will figure some way to keep displaced workers from starving, perhaps by offering a subsistence payment of some kind. Would you like to just exist for most of your life without contributing anything to society? Probably not.

Here’s how to prepare for the worst case of being unemployed permanently:

Start a home based business either using the Internet or some other opportunity not likely to be impacted by automation or offshoring. You may have to try two or three things before finding the right one so it’s best to get into something requiring a small investment. When you begin to succeed you can put money into a more costly operation if your research indicates a winner.
Constantly educate yourself and obtain as many new skills as you can so you can participate in opportunities as they arise. Actively look for things to do in emerging fields. If you like one and think you are qualified, seize the chance immediately before it vanishes.

Remember, the first and best defense for you is the first option-become a home based entrepreneur with your own business. Even if you are successful at staying employed, your business new will provide extra income and a sense of financial security.

By taking these actions you will keep the dark curtain of negative thinking from covering up ways for you to successfully come through this recession. Good luck to you; keep your head high.

© Yank Elliott. You have unconditional permission to reprint or use this article in any way you see fit, wherever you wish to do so.

Electric Vehicles – Better Watch Out for Flying Pizza Drones

Recent movies like “Transformers,” “Inception” and even “Men In Black” have elevated public expectations of technological breakthroughs.

Science portrayed on film promises powerful new energy sources, morphing smart robots and mind-bending concepts.

Alas, the real world is somewhat less fantastic, ushering in a limited-range electric vehicle for the dawn of the 21st Century. Call it the curse of George Jetson. The cartoon about a red-headed buffoon living in an idealized future premiered 50 years ago on Sept. 23, 1962, and while some of its computing predictions have hit the mark, others like personal space flight remain decades distant.

Robotics attracts high-schoolers

On a side note, robot development does appear promising, especially with drone aircraft. The pursuit also has taken root amongst young people with events like the 2012 VEX Robotics High School World Championship over the Earth Day weekend in Anaheim, Calif. Tiny Riverdale High School’s team under the tutelage of Roland Reyna placed in the top 40 of 396 teams. Reyna, who lives in Fresno, Calif. has inspired a team of mostly farmworker kids to tear apart old donated computers and electronics devices to make amazing stuff.

Still, nobody’s created anything to keep up with Rosie, the independent house-cleaner robot that took care of Jetson family disasters. Likewise, George Jetson’s flying transport with its iconic bleeping propulsion system may never get built, especially the feature allowing the bubble-shaped vehicle to fold into a briefcase.

Instead we have electric and hybrid powertrains that have yet to intrigue a significant percentage of U.S. drivers. The big drawback beyond their limited range and consumer resistance is the high battery cost. This prices many EV and hybrid models in line with entry level luxury cars.

Recharging EVs

There are also recharging issues to deal with. A support network is critical, says a report by the American National Standards Institute.

“This infrastructure must be reliable and broadly interoperable regardless of the type of EV or charging system,” say the authors of “Standardization Roadmap for Electric Vehicles.”

The report says that pesky recharge requirement is needed “at home, at work, and in public locations.” The big question is how the infrastructure gets built and who pays for it. The home part’s covered. Owners foot that bill.

But along highways and at many places in towns and cities? The private sector will have to work that out.

Systems of tomorrow

There’s potential for wireless charging, but its arrival — if ever — is years away. In the interim, most of the options involve plugging in at a variety of locations and service stations and sitting there from 20 minutes to three hours while the car battery fills with energy. The problem here is to have the right receptacles and proper systems. Conformity and industry standards will have to be settled before too long. The beta vs. VHS war of the early 1980s provides an earlier example of some potential pitfalls.

To move this technology forward, prices must drop. But that requires more sales. Solving the conundrum could take time.

Meanwhile, other technologies could steal the spotlight.

For instance, Thomas Frey of the DaVinci Institute speculates that pilotless drones will nose their way into the consumer consciousness. He offers an anecdote in a blog post about watching TV, saying yes to an image of a pizza and getting it delivered via drone with a six pack.

Nothing like Jetson’s car. But the concept does sound possible.

Pilotless drones

A recent episode of a legal drama on NBC featured a story about a woman whose privacy was invaded by police using a small drone to spy on her in her bedroom. The situation is speculative, but the technology is real.

Frey says flying cars will require the development of the following: fully automated navigation systems, low-impact vertical take-off, convenient fly-drive capability, silent engines and specialized safety systems.

Give it time. Frey contends flying cars — should they be cheap enough to get all us George and Jane Jetsons puttering around the sky — could do for transportation what the Internet has done for communication. “We could only begin to imagine the opportunities that would eventually accompany this kind of innovation,” he says.

Debt Settlement Tips – Legal Way to Never Pay Back Half of Your Credit Card Debt

Around the world mainstream of general public is facing the problem of credit card debt. If you are one of them who are suffering the losses after acquiring the credit card the legal financial firms are there to help you to erase your credit card debt in a more professional and stable way.

The recession has unexpectedly attacked the economy and there is a great scarcity of capital. In order to bring the economy back on the financial path, the government has introduced definite funds that will be eventually helping the people to get rid of their debts. There are many financial relief firms who are basically helping and providing huge assistance to everyone so they can easily clear off their debts through various programs and proposals.

The financial relief companies help the people by decreasing the accountabilities through legal negotiation process. If you are a defaulter and really in need to fix your liabilities abridged too, then you can depend rely on the services provided by the relief firms. To find the financial relief firms is not a problematic task because there are heaps of companies on the internet. However, you have to be vigilant while entering into a deal with these companies. Instead of resolving your credit card debt, you might lose a great amount of money if you hire a wrong firm.

Through a profound internet research, you can sort out for the best settlement companies who can really resolve your debts. You need to focus strongly and spend some time on the research and eventually the result will be fruitful. There is no need to worry as credit card is a universal problem and the liabilities can be exempted legally through the settlement procedures. If people will employ the best relief firm, than they will be getting a relief from their liabilities. People will be finding these options supportive so they can get rid of the huge unsecured charges.

Presume through negotiation if your obligations are removed approximately to fifty percent, then you will be only reimbursing half of the amount. Conversely, the creditor has to be detrimental for the amount which was reduced through the negotiation deal. Everyone wants a stress free life and if you are looking for that that first of all shove off all the liabilities which you owe. Other than that employ for you a reliable financial firm and follow the procedures to avail the concession deal lawfully.

The Need For The Culture Of Corporate Social Responsibilities Amongst Corporate Entities In Nigeria

INTRODUCTION

Background

The concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has been concerned with the need for a strong and moral ecology which reflects the wider social and cultural morals of the society. For this ecology to be developed there is a need for support, not only from governments, but from all stakeholders, not the least from the private business sector.

Over time, the private sector has always been subject to public scrutiny. What we understand today by corporate social responsibility has been influenced enormously by our various economic systems, the evolution of the modern corporation and the emergence of theories of Corporate Responsibility itself.

The 1909 case of Cadbury is a notable example to mention in an attempt to putting CSR in context. These issues were in many ways the same as those today. Firstly, companies were then and are now felt by many to have a duty to uphold certain human rights, even when there is no legal liability. Secondly, Companies that purchase commodities or manufactured goods were held to have influence over, and responsibility the behaviour of their producers. These principles were apparent in the 1909 court case and are central to areas to modern corporate social responsibility such as ethical trade.

Corporate Social Responsibility came into being in the 1960s and early 1970s after many multinational corporations formed the term stakeholder, meaning those on whom an organization’s activities have impact. It was used to describe corporate owners beyond stakeholders as a result of an influential book by Edward Freeman titled ‘Strategic Management; a stakeholder approach in 1984. Proponents argue that corporations make more long term profits by operating with a perspective, while critics argue that CSR distracts from the economic role of businesses. Others argue CSR is merely window dressing, or an attempt to pre-empt the role of government as a watchdog over powerful Multinational Corporations.

DEFINITION OF CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

The term ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ could also be referred to as Corporate Conscience, Corporate Citizenship, and Social Performance. It is a form of self regulation integrated into a business model. CSR policy functions as a built-in, self-regulating mechanism whereby a business monitors and ensures its active compliance with the spirit of the law, ethical standards, and international norms. The goals of CSR is to embrace responsibility for the company’s actions and encourage a positive impact through its activities on the environment, consumers, employees, communities, stakeholders and all other members of the public sphere who may also be considered as stakeholders.

CSR is titled to aid an organization’s mission as well as a guide to what the company stands for and will uphold to its consumers. Development business ethics is one of the forms of applied ethics that examines ethical principles and moral or problems that can arise in a business environment. ISO 26000 is the recognized international standard for CSR. Public sector organizations (the United Nations for example) adhere to the triple bottom line (TBL). It is widely accepted that CSR adhere to similar principles but with no formal act of legislation. The U.N has developed the principle for responsible investment as investing entities.

The world Business council for sustainable development in its publication; making Good Business Sense by Lord Holmes and Richard Watts, defined corporate social responsibility as the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as the local communities and society at large.

A well managed CSR helps in supporting the business Objective of the company, build relationships with key stakeholders whose opinion will be most valuable when times are hard, and should reduce a business cost and maximize its effectiveness.

ARGUMENTS AGAINST THE CONCEPT OF CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

Criticisms and Counter-Criticisms have trailed the concept of CSR and it has been given audience, would have portended doom to the existence of the CSR. One of the challenges faced by this concept is the challenge of definition that people use. We assume here that we are talking about responsibility in how the company carries out its core function – not simply about companies giving money away to charity.

Some key arguments and some responses that have emanated from the concept of CSR are:

1. Businesses are owned by their shareholders – money spent on CSR by managers is thefty of the rightful property of the Owners who are the company’s Shareholders. This obviously is the voice of the laissez faire 1980s, still being given powerful voice by advocates such as Elaine Sternberg who argued that there is a human right case against CSR, which is that a stakeholder approach to management deprives shareholder of their property rights. She further stated that the objectives sought by conventional views of social responsibility are absurd. Not all aspect of CSR are guilty of this however, Sternberg added that ordinary decency, honesty and fairness should be expected of any corporation.

2. The leading companies who report on their social responsibility are basket cases – they argued that most effective business leaders don’t waste time with on CSR. This argument was that CSR were mere cosmetic disclosures stating further that when surveys are carried out of the most respected Business leaders, you will often find names there, such as Bill Gates of Microsoft, a few years ago have not achieved their world class status by playing nice, Welch is still remembered for the brutal downsizing he led his business through, and for the environmental pollution incidents and prosecutions. Further pointing out that Microsoft has had one of the highest profile cases of bullying market dominance of recent times and Gates has been able to achieve the financial Status where he can choose to give lots of money away by being ruthless in Business. They opined that this very point proved that Real Men don’t do CSR and that we don’t live in a world where virtue is always seen to be rewarded.

3. Companies are too busy surviving hard times to do this; we can’t afford to take our eyes off the ball – we have to focus on core business. – They argued that it was well for the big companies who could doll out huge sums of money for CSR and that their companies lacked such capacity to replicate same gesture to the society. Stating further that for those fighting for survival, it’s a very difficult for them to do likewise. Stating that, you can’t go spending money on unnecessary frills when you’re laying people off and morale is Rock Bottom. And the odd bit of volunteering employee won’t make any difference to the Society when they feel cynical and negative about how the company operates. They equally argued that managing your Social responsibility is like managing your business and that you can never do it too well. That no matter how much you try to please the society, it would never bees seen as substantial enough and so what was the point of engaging it an exercise in futility.

4. It’s the responsibility of the politicians to deal with all this stuff. It’s not our role to get involved. This view is of the opinion that Business has traditionally been beyond morality and public policy. We will do what we are allowed to do. They are of the opinion that the government should be solely charged with the responsibility of rendering services and providing a legal framework that says what the society will subscribe to, and that there is no point for instance allowing smoking to remain legal – even making large tax receipt from it – and then acting as though tobacco companies are all immediately beyond the pale.- if you think its so dreadful, you should make it illegal. If not, then we all should get on with the job of meeting the demand out there of Adults who can choose for themselves.

5. I have no time for this, I’ve got to get out and sell more to make our profit line. This group of people are of the opinion that they do not have enough time to spare for the execution of CSR and that they needed to channel their time and energy on meeting the profit line neede3d for the company to survive competitively.

6. Corporations don’t really care – they are just out to screw the poor and the environment to make their obscene profits. Some corporations don’t really care about contributing to the development of their host community but are head bent on harming the environment for the benefit of their business. Examples of such companies are the Oil and Gas Exploration companies who just keep degrading their host environment without adequate compensation or seen rendering CSR’s that are quite commensurate to the level of destruction they have caused to their immediate environment, and this has led to mass uprising against them where the host communities take up arm against them and make the region uninhabitable for them to operate. This has been seen in Nigerian Communities like the Ogoni’s In Rivers State, where the illicit and inhumane activities of Oil Companies have made their naturally blessed clean streams and air polluted for them to consume and breathe respectively.

VARIOUS VIEWS ON THE CONCEPT OF CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY ACROSS THE WORLD

It won’t be out of place to discuss the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility without taking into consideration how it is been perceived in other parts of the world. CSR, the set of standard to which a company subscribes to in order to make its impact on society, has the potential to contribute sustainable development and poverty reduction in the world. What can be questioned though is if the CSR model developed in the west are the best suited for CSR institutional and management models exported to other regions of the world are not always very successful. In the light of this, it is deemed pertinent that various models from across the world are studied with a view to striking a balance on the need for CSR.

THE AMERICAN PERSPECTIVE

Traditionally in the U.S, CSR has been defined more in terms of Philanthropic Model. Companies make Profits, Unhindered except by fulfilling their duty to pay taxes. Then they donate a certain share of the profits to charitable causes. It is seen as tainting the act for the company to receive any benefit from the giving. The Americans do not see corporate social responsibility as something that has to do with morals or traditional ethics; rather they see it as something that is done maybe to perceive an entrepreneur as a philanthropist. This is evident on the various criticisms that have been levelled against the concept. One could simply sum up a conclusion that Organizations would ordinarily not want to imbibe the culture of social responsiveness to their various community unless it is made compulsory. For all Business Entities to be socially responsible there has to be an enactment of laws stating its compulsion and the consequences of defaulting.

THE EUROPEAN PERSPECTIVE

The European Model is much more focused on operating the core business in a socially responsible way, complemented by investment in communities for solid business case reasons. This model is more sustainable because:

Social Responsibility becomes an integral part of the wealth creation process – which if managed properly should enhance the competitiveness of business and maximize the value of wealth creation to society.

When times gets hard, there is the incentive to practice CSR more and better – if it is a philanthropic exercise which is peripheral to the main business, it will always be the first thing to go when times gets hard.

However, the Business definition of CSR is described as Operating a business in a manner that meets or exceeds the ethical, legal, commercial and public expectations that society has of business.

On the Other hand, the European Commission hedges its bet with two definitions wrapped into one:

1. As a concept whereby companies decide voluntarily to contribute to a better society and a cleaner environment.

2. A concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their Stakeholders on a Voluntary Basis.

When both are critically reviewed, they broadly agree that the definition now focuses on the impact of how you manage your core business. Some go further tan others in prescribing how far companies go beyond managing their impact into the terrain of acting specifically outside of that focus to make a contribution to the achievement of broader and societal goals. It is a key difference, when many business leaders feel that their companies are ill equipped to pursue what boarders societal goals and activists argue that companies have no democratic legitimacy to take such roles.

CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY AS IT RELATES TO BUSINESS PERCEPTION FROM THE PUBLIC

Public Opinion is indeed not to be underestimated in Business as this could determine the Fate of a Business Entity to Exist and compete favourably with its counterparts. If the concern of the Principles of Going-Concern is to be made manifest, it is therefore pertinent that the Reputation and Image of the Company is well Established and handled in a way that will make the Company appear in good light by portraying Features of a Good and Responsible Business Set up. This can only be made possible if the Company shows true and Germane Interest in the welfare of its citizenry through various practices of Corporate Social Responsibility Gestures. No Doubt people want to associate themselves with Businesses that are well established in good reputations. Therefore the need for a concerted and deliberate effort is imminent to pursue this course.

Goodwill as we all know is intangible in nature. Its volume or Value can never be summed up in Measure and this could be the distinguishing factor between one business and the other. Building a good business reputation as a responsible business outfit sets you apart from your equal. This makes an organization to be widely accepted by the people by having a sense of belonging, Boost Competitive Trade Advantage amongst competitors, and become a partner in progress. Perception in Business is not to be underestimated as it could be the Thin Line between Prosperity and Doom.

A well managed CSR helps in building a Good relationship with key stakeholders whose opinion will be most valuable in times of Adversaries and uncertainties, and it also reduces business cost and maximize its effectiveness. Ultimately, This also could influence the people’s choice of Doing Business. Most appropriately, it is necessary for a company to be seen as a partner in progress rather than being seen as the People’s Enemy. This of Course would affect Business Adversely. It could Even Cost the Business Its life. Some customers don’t just prefer to deal with responsible business outfits, but they insist on it. Often times Some companies are seen favouring supplies to business outfits who demonstrate responsible policies as this can have a Positive impact on how they are perceived by customers.

However, Business Managers Should see Corporate Social Responsibility as a Means to foster a good Relationship between their firms and the Society for their own good. Based on the Foregoing, It is therefore important for it to make the most of its corporate social responsibility activities by publicising them by ensuring that customers, suppliers and the local community know what it is doing. CSR lends itself to Good News Stories. Publicity such as this can produce the Magic of using CSR to win lots of contracts.

It is a known fact that people want to buy from businesses they respect and in earning this respect, a firm has got to earn it by being socially responsible.

AN ACCOUNT OF THE NIGERIAN EXPERIENCE OF CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

(Governance and corporate Social Responsibility in Nigeria)

A fast growing trend in the business world is the evolution of Corporate Social Responsibility packages by Multinationals and other Corporate Bodies. This is not unconnected with public outcries over the adverse effect of day-to-day business activities of the companies, how it affects the environment, economy and the lives of the host communities.

Corporate Social Responsibility is a set of standard to which a company subscribes in other to make an impact on society. Its potential to contribute to sustainable development, poverty reduction, caters for the vulnerable and senior citizens as well as contributes to national economy and private enterprise. This in recent time is fast becoming an apology medium for vagrant abuse of social responsibility and protection of the environment in the scramble for maximizing profit.

From the Oil Multinationals in the restive Niger Delta region of Nigeria, Telecommunications Giants, drug makers, down to the consolidated banking sector. It has become en vogue to engage in highly publicized charitable and philanthropic ventures as an act of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to plicate the abused public. Over time, Multinationals in Nigeria simply signs agreements with indigenous government without difference to the immediate host communities. This of course is what informed the series of various protracted restiveness in the Oil Rich Niger Delta, as the multinationals for decades have continued to violate environmental rules to the detriment of the host communities like Ogoni land as well as being accomplices in the brutal violation of human rights in these communities by successive civilian and military government.

When the draconian government of the late dictator, Gen. Sanni Abacha hanged frontline Author and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other members of the Movement for the survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP): Against local and international outcry in 1995, Oil Multinationals like shell could not exonerate itself from the complicity in the killings because they failed to meet the legitimate claims of the host-communities for reduction of environmental pollution through spillage and Gas flaring without tangible Compensation. Shell would have been deemed socially responsible if it has meaningfully provided employment for the host communities, Social Infrastructural development and payment of Royalties and Compensation for such abuses rather than cheating the host communities in connivance with a Non-chalant government who continue to ignore this until the court judgement of compensation against shell on the Ogoni Martyrs.

To Curb such abuses, Fiscal Responsibility of government to the citizenry must correspond to the Social Corporate Responsibility activities of the corporate sphere to the people. This will help to placate the rampant violence in the ever-restive Niger Delta and the South Eastern zone of the country where militancy, Pipeline vandalism and most recently, the rampant abduction of both expatriates and targeted individuals of huge Ransom are on the increase. Recent History has shown the effect of Militancy on national security, socio-political activities as well as the economy. A glimpse of this is the unrest that led to the declaration of the state of emergency in Bayelsa State in 1998 and forced withdrawal of oil multinationals from the region, partial and final shutdown of the country’s oil output.

The Recent settlements of victims by drug giant Pfizer international incorporated in a lawsuit over the ill fated Trovan antibiotics experiment on children during a meningitis outbreak in Kano state is another abuse of Corporate Social Responsibility. The company and the concerned parties agreed to settlement of $75million. A Pfizer spokesman as quoted by the Associated Press release of 29th July 2009 affirm that Pfizer stands by the 1996 study it conducted with the approval of the Nigerian Government at consent of the participants’ parents pr guardians was taken and the study was consistent with Nigeria’s laws.

The criminal abuse of our Children as experimental Guinea Pigs by Pfizer: when called upon for help by the government in the midst of an endemic outbreak is untenable. It does not exonerate Pfizer form this unfortunate incident and it is an indictment on the government as an accomplice since they failed innocent victims, the Children in the constitutional discharge of the public fiscal responsibility function to the citizen as enshrined in the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007. By not checking for facts on the risk of such unprecedented experiment on these innocent children, government thus became an accomplice in this gross abuse of Social justice both from the multinational and from the government. This made Richard Altshuler an Activist to argue that the settlement agreement short charges the victims and benefits Nigerian officials in millions of Dollars. Even the government is getting over$10 million as litigation cost.

Moreover it negates the ethics of Corporate Social Responsibility when Pfizer desires remittance of the leftover funds from the settlement money to its coffers as against earlier agreement that the $30 million leftover go into the construction of a hospital in the state metropolis. More so, to misconstrue this turn of events as a real Corporate Social Responsibility In its self will be an Aberration. This is because not even the compensation money which is a punitive action can correct the ugly event.

Coming to the telecommunication sector, multinationals in this sector are also in the philanthropic zeal of CSR. MTN for example came up with its MTN Foundation and its pet project, Children at Risk Empowerment Scheme (CARES) to provide psychosocial Support to aid the child to grow up in a Social and psychological environment. This project targeted at children who have lost both parents: a laudable initiative no doubt. But they must be seen doing beyond this in the aspect of sponsoring lots of scholarship and donation of laboratories and cancer treatment equipments among other packages to schools and teaching hospitals all over Nigeria.

In the light of the foregoing, a Holistic approach is sacrosanct to true Corporate Social Responsibility in our society. The government must create the enabling environment by aggressively tackling the issues of security, power and poverty to the bearest minimun. thus the Multinationals have a choice to live up to the credo of Triple Bottom Line; make Profit, care for the environment and uphold social justice. While the federal government struggle to deliver on security to private enterprises, good governance to the citizenry and its other commitments to its multinational partners, notwithstanding, the Nigerian government must be worthy of the people’s trust by guiding the multinationals to stop using double standard on the prevention of oil spillage, gas flaring eradication timeline as well as fair dealings with labour unions in their business dealings.

In the light of the foregoing, a Holistic approach is sacrosanct to true Corporate Social Responsibility in our society. The government must create the enabling environment by aggressively tackling the issues of security, power and poverty, Thus the Multinationals have a choice to live up to the credo of Triple Bottom Line; make Profit, care for the environment and uphold social justice. While the federal government struggle to deliver on security to private enterprises, good governance to the citizenry and its other commitments to its multinational partners, notwithstanding, the Nigerian government must be worthy of the people’s trust by guiding the multinationals to stop using double standard on the prevention of oil spillage, gas flaring eradication timeline as well as fair dealings with labour unions in their business dealings.

EMERGING PATTERNS OF CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY IN FIRMS OPERATING IN NIGERIA

There are three key strands of CSR expression in Nigerian Organization; they include Philanthropic, economic Support and Compensatory. Philanthropy refers to a humanitarian and charitable service projected to the people by the corporate organizations. Firms through their benevolent activities make the people to feel good about their operations. The firms in the local communities have often embarked on donations of meager sum to community development, cultural practices and celebrations.

The other strand of CSR practiced in Nigeria is tagged as Economic Support. In this case, the corporate organizations help by providing social amenities like portable water, building and maintenance of schools, maintenance of parks, promotion of basic and primary healthcare scheme, launching of empowerment schemes, for the less privileged etc.

The third is the Compensatory CSR strand which is gradually gaining ground. Organizations compensate the Nigerian government, communities, and individuals for certain operational breaches that have occurred during the production process. These three expressions of strands of CSR can be seen in the several organizations in Nigeria such as the United Bank for Africa, (UBA), and MTN Nigeria.