Capitalism and Morality (Thai Beer and Monks)
Investors aiming to buy stock in Thai Beverages Pcl may have to settle for a bottle of its Chang beer after billionaire owner Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi’s plan to sell shares was blocked for a third time amid protests led by orange- robed Buddhist monks.
The monks and other protesters argued a share sale by the company, maker of more than half Thailand’s beer as well as Mekhong whiskey, would promote alcoholism in a country where more than 90 percent of the 65 million people are Buddhist.
I find myself mentioning this story a lot; primary because the monks have a very strong conception of capitalism and where it morally breaks down: if you let this company go public, it will be their legal imperative to increase their value, which will be done by promoting the consumption of their product, which is alcohol.
And then, the (former) PM’s view:
As the alcohol industry is the cause of many damages to society, as shown by those statistics, it lacks the qualifications to raise funds and list in the stock exchange. Even if, from an economic point of view, it is the source of tax collected from the sale of beer, it’s not worth all the losses it creates.