Business morality

BIG business often infuriates the New Right. One reason: American companies trade with the Soviet Union, loan money to communist countries, and even sell them equipment that can be used to build weapons.

But that's not all.

Religious conservatives bitterly complain that United States firms will do almost anything to make a dollar -- even corrupt American youth. Greed comes before good citizenship, they charge.

Examples include sex-oriented magazines like ``Playboy'' and ``Penthouse.'' Their pages are filled with advertisements from major corporations.

Conservative fund-raiser Richard Viguerie, in his book, ``The New Right: We're Ready to Lead,'' complains that large companies pour millions of dollars into pornographic publications with little regard for ``our greatest natural resource -- our young people.''

The Rev. Jerry Falwell says: ``The ad agencies are interested in one thing only, and that is sales. Find the people. Sell the product.

``But I do think ultimately the buck stops in the boardrooms of these major conglomerates. They certainly had to answer for their investments in South Africa. They should be answering for their investments in our young people.''

Sales have slumped in recent years at a number of magazines that peddle salacious material. But many of them continue to be fat with ads.

The March 1986 issue of Playboy, for example, contained over 54 pages of advertising. Thirty percent of the Playboy ads were for liquor and beer, 26 percent for Japanese autos and motorcycles, 13 percent for cigarettes, and about 6 percent for pornographic literature, films, etc.

The March issue of Penthouse also was dominated by cigarette ads (34 percent) and liquor and beer ads (27 percent).

Nissan trucks was the largest advertiser in either issue with an eight-page color spread in Playboy.

An official with a major New York advertising agency says some firms shun racy magazines because of their own, conservative corporate image, or because of the personal standards of their executives.

On the other hand, Japanese motorcycle firms frequently use Playboy because they want an ``exciting'' environment for their ads. They also like the younger demographic profile these magazines offer.

Cigarette firms, banned from TV, seek every other possible outlet to promote their products, as do liquor companies. Beer firms have a policy of simply ``advertising everywhere,'' the ad executive says.

Not everyone on the New Right thinks Dr. Falwell and Mr. Viguerie are correct to criticize advertising in Playboy. Terry Dolan, chairman of the National Conservative Political Action Committee, says many of his friends on the right are ``incredibly wrong about this.''

Mr. Dolan explains: ``They say their kids read it. I say, if the kids read it, slap them silly. They're not my responsibility, they're your responsibility.

``People complain about the state coming in and violating the sanctity of the family, but they like regulation when it serves their social purpose.''

However, Dolan agrees with his friends that big business is too anxious to give loans to communist powers and sell them goods.

``It's absolutely repulsive that so many of these guys are making money off communist slavery. It's an evil system, and [we shouldn't sell to them] any more than we should have sold anything to Hitler.''

Back to the subject of pornography, the Rev. Mr. Falwell suggests the only way to make corporations behave more responsibly may be to protest against, or boycott, sponsoring firms.

``Pocketbook is the only thing that affects them,'' he says.

-- J.D.

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