Mark Dolliver’s Takes: Business, That Is

What can a large corporation do to gain the confidence of the public? Reducing its revenue by 90 percent would be a good start. Americans seldom tire of voicing hostility to big business, but they retain an indulgent outlook on the virtue of small businesses and the people who run them. Never mind that small businesses are more likely than large companies to stiff their employees on healthcare and to engage in shoddy environmental practices. In the public mind, the small ones are the good guys. You can see as much from the chart below, drawing on a Harris Poll in which respondents were asked to express their opinions about the people who run some major institutions in this country. A mere 3 percent of those polled said they have “hardly any” confidence in the people who run small business. By comparison, 25 percent said they have hardly any confidence in the people who run major companies, and 24 percent said they have hardly any in the people who run Wall Street. Meanwhile, though newspapers tend to regard themselves as tribunes of the people (while viewing television news as a vulgar form of entertainment), “the press” fared poorly in this poll. Twelve percent of respondents said they have a great deal of confidence in the people who run the press, while 38 percent said they have hardly any.