CPAC: Liberals Keep People Poor, Diseased, Dying Early

By Nathan Burchfiel | July 7, 2008 | 8:17pm EDT

Washington, D.C. ( - A free enterprise advocate on Friday said liberal activists and their promotion of "corporate social responsibility" keeps third world citizens "poor, diseased, and dying early."

Paul Driessen, senior policy advisor at the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise,
spoke on a panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. Addressing conservatives, he said there is "an opportunity for us to be on the side of good and morality and the poorest people on the planet."

Driessen said activists who pressure corporations to donate money to liberal causes and prevent them from developing in third world countries do more to hurt the world's poor than to help them.

"They try to shut down so-called sweatshops as though no jobs [are] better than what they consider to be low quality jobs," Driessen said, "as though working as a 12-year-old beggar, thief or prostitute is better than working in a garment or shoe factory."

He criticized activists who try to preserve indigenous cultures by preventing American corporations from developing in third world countries.

"I would love to meet just one corporate social responsibility activist or Hollywood celebrity who's willing to go native for even one month and live in a state-of-the-art mud hut in malaria-infested rural Africa under the indigenous conditions they extol and perpetuate," Driessen said.

He added that he would like to see them "drink the local's contaminated water, eat their paltry, mold-infested food, breathe polluted smoke from their wood and cow-dung fires, endure swarms of diseases mosquitoes and tsetse flies, and do it with no bug spray, no pesticides, [and] no anti-malaria pills."

Another panelist, Peter Flaherty of the National Legal and Policy Center, said that corporations do have a social responsibility, but that their primary responsibility is to "defend and advance the interests of the people who own the company."

Ed Hudgins, executive director of the Objectivist Center, echoed Flaherty's call for a focus on profits. He added that good business practices like honesty and ethics are essential to serving the interests of shareholders.

A spokesman for Greenpeace USA, an organization that promote corporate social responsibility that was specifically criticized by several of the panelists, did not return calls requesting comment Friday.

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