Starting about when Ronald Reagan got into office, college graduates who formerly wanted to attend medical or law school began going to business schools. They got a degree called Masters in Business Administration—the MBA. As far as I can tell, MBAs are taught to make as much money as possible without getting thrown in jail. The best schools, like Harvard, Wharton, Duke, and Columbia seem to attract the most aggressive sharks. There is even a TV show called Sharks on which no nonsense MBA types decide if some naif’s business plan will succeed. The contestants are grilled in a harsh manner and most plans are rejected as being too weak.
I saw this kind of MBA attitude when I took five psychology students to the Columbia business school to participate in a mock labor negotiation. The event was hosted by Margaret Chandler, a famous labor relations scholar. The psychologists played the role of labor, naturally the business students took the management roles. Though this was only a practice exercise the MBAs had the psychologists scared to death. They used a classic negotiating technique in which one person on the negotiation team acts entirely nuts, shouting and screaming like a psychotic This terrified the touchy feely psychologists so much that they lowered their demands to get the thing over with and flee the room.
In the old days MBAs were relatively scarce. They wound up as CEOs, CFOs, and other high level positions. Now, with many MBA graduates around, they often find themselves managing service departments, the mail room, and really every function in organizations. The MBA credo is to turn every office of a company into a profit center. For example, when you call the service department of the company that sold you a phone, vacuum, bicycle, or whatever, you don’t get service. Rather they try to sell you a new, more expensive replacement for the broken one. Now service goes from a cost center to a profit center, from service to sales. MBAs know that sales is where the money is. Service is a loser. Service interactions are a form of ‘bait and switch’. They catch the poor customer with a promise of service but then switch their role to sales. If not illegal, this is a kind of moral crime very common in business today.
The ‘anything for a buck’ attitude has spread throughout the country. MBA values dominate the entire culture. It is not an accident that two of the worst presidents in American history, George W. Bush and Donald Trump, were graduates of MBA programs.