A Comparison of Ethics

Dr. Purushothaman
December 13, 2013

Policies of human rights have been on the minds of American workers, since the end of WWII. Working conditions, safety, health, labor, benefit packages, and the environment have become bargaining chips for employment negotiated from the personal level to organized Unions. Additionally, since the scope of globalization has become a stronghold for developing market strategies, China's policies have been scrutinized and it is feeling pressure to improve them. This scrutiny began during the years of the Clinton administration as they attempted to manipulate international trade policies with China to facilitate the process.
China's leadership is concerned with how its human rights policies will impact its own culture and undermine its values, which have been traditionally influenced by Confucianism. Confucius (551 BC- 479 BC) was a philosopher whose writings play an important role in the Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese ways of thought and life. It wasn't until the Han dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD) that Confucianism's influence became predominant. Collins, M. (2008) stated, "Chen Duxiu, one of the standard bearers of the New Culture movement in the Republic of China, argued in 1916, that Confucian thought and teachings belonged to the feudal age" (p.161). It was at this time that the new culture movement believed this culture of Confucianism was holding them back from modernization in China's pursuit of democracy. Those who preserve Confucianism inherently have adopted the belief that democracy and this culture are incompatible; since Confucianism is essentially authoritarian. It is the western world that produced the word "democracy" as a complete contradiction to complete to a dictatorship and utilitarian leadership, regarding people's rights to participate in the political process and in leadership. Still, China struggles to understand these principles, due to never having such a system of its own.
In the 1830's, many U.S. companies enacted child labor laws prohibiting children from working in industrial settings. In the rural areas, whole families were being employed with men doing the heavy labor, and women and children doing the lighter work. It wasn't until 1941, when the U.S. Federal Government declared child labor unconstitutional, and set into place the Federal Wage and Hour Law. This law set the work week of 40 hours, with a minimum wage. It also prohibited child labor under the age of 16, while allowing children at 16 and over to work in non-hazardous occupations. The Act also set 18 as the minimum age to work in industries classified as hazardous. The Historyplace.com (2010) stated:
According to recent global estimates by the International Labor Office, the number of working children aged 5 to 14 in developing countries is in the order of 250 million, of whom some 120 million work full time in various jobs often under hazardous conditions amid crude living conditions.
It was during WWII and the industrial revolution that women were asked to work in American factories to help support the War efforts as men fought. Upon the return of these men, women enjoyed their freedom and did not want to return to the role of a housewife and being dependent; so the U.S. democracy matured for this new audience of employees. The landscape of the labor market changed, and so did laws in the name of human rights for women and children.
Things have drastically changed in the United States in regard to morals and ethics. The country can no longer discriminate with forms of ethnic, religious, or sexual connotations and get away with it; yet, these still exist in various forms around the country.
If people are empowered, they remain loyal, trustworthy, and productive. Contrary to this belief, other countries, such as China, face a culture change due to globalization. With the international trade agreements on General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the borders are open for more free trade and countries or China's fears of losing its values and ideologies of a dictatorship, practiced through Confucianism, are shaky. The process of international economic integration, for China, is under the microscope as a major supplier of goods and services to the world. China's youth are becoming more educated under democratic policies; this alone sparks a revolution of change.
Ethics contribute to one's ethical relativism in life, and when applied with appropriate principles, they lead to successful business decision-making, and may enhance one's professional image as a reputable business leader. Once learned, these principles may shed light on bringing resolutions to challenging circumstances in the global business arena where it seems they do not apply to all people the same way. Every business stakeholder has decisions to make, whether his or her ideas of right and wrong are represented in the ways they follow the rules. One's commitment to leadership to an organization may pervert his or her uses of ethical principles.

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