There's a fundamental debate going on not only in the U.S., but around the world, about the role of government vs. the role of business. To some degree, it's a short-term focus on how to avoid a double-dip recession or even a depression and to get the economy going again.

Some believe government stimulus is the answer. See Paul Krugman in the New York Times, for example. Others argue businesses are being held back by the uncertainty created by government's anti-business policies or potential policies. See Larry Kudlow's interview with Michael Porter on CNBC.

To a larger degree, however, it's a longer-term battle for a vision of how the economy should work. To what extent can business be trusted to act in the public interest, and to what extent must government use its regulatory and tax powers to direct economic development. This is not a new debate, but it has tilted toward the government side of the answer for the first time in several decades. The Economist explored this trend recently.

To me, this presents a challenge to business to step up. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce campaign to promote free enterprise is one approach.

But the challenge really is for every company to work to rebuild trust in business by aligning corporate mission with the public interest. This is the main message of the Page Society's report on public trust in business.