That is one of the major flaws of capitalism. But not all “profit” is the same.
Sammy Kayes
2

That is one of the major flaws of capitalism.

Capitalism is a human construct so like humans it too has flaws. The only good in this world is because humans do good actions, its not some supernatural inevitability. (I’m not saying you said that I just wanted to make the point so you understand the framing and reality of what I’m trying to convey.)

But not all “profit” is the same.

A business makes a product or service. It charges a price and then after all expenses and taxes a profit will be left. Without a profit at some point the business simply cannot continue to operate meaning it will cease to provide that product or service and close. This is very black and white. Only by making a profit can it stay in business. These are just facts.

Furthermore a profit is just money. Money itself doesn’t have morality attached to it as it’s just digits entered in a computer or printed on paper. People can do moral or immoral things with money which I think we both agree on. A business can also do moral or immoral things with its money as its people making decisions on what to spend it on. The point I’m trying to make is that only by making a profit (or break-even) can a business continue to exist. No profit then everyone loses their job. Once a business has a profit can it then potentially choose to spend on moral things. It’s the profit that gives greater flexibility for the owners or executive team (hired managers) to spend on worthy causes. No profit then a business is simply just trying to survive until it can profit again.

You are making a major assumption about the primary role/focus of the corporation. Only in the mid to late 20th century did it become the norm to prioritize shareholders over the public. Often, the excessive seeking of profit causes “bad” things to happen to the working class, the environment, and yes, even the consumers – by your own logic, they are not the priority.

Let me break this down. A business has an owner or owners. Say you start a business and it’s successful ie can pay you a wage and at least break even after paying your wage. You then decide you want to retire or do something else. You then hire a manager to run your business for you and make a profit to pay you. If there’s no profit then you’d just close the business as what’s the point of keeping the business going with all the human effort involved. A CEO is just a hired manager. A shareholder is just an owner.

Now the choices made in trying to maximise profit can be good or bad which I think we both agree on. Those choices comes down to having good humans with good moral judgement running that business. It’s a cultural issue and is very important not only for humanity but also for the business generally to prosper long term. That is what CSR is all about and is why it’s becoming a bigger issue for the reasons you stated.

My point is capitalism and profit are not the problem. It’s the choices humans make that can be or not. Capitalism is the best system we have so far that energises humans to invent and create/provide amazing products or services to solve human needs. I don’t think it’s fair to just blame capitalism and profits as they are just human constructs. The blame lies in humans and their behaviour that humans deem to be right or wrong.

P.s. I wouldn’t say I’m some uber capitalist but I am studying my MBA and it’s really interesting to learn. I hope to do good one day if I start a business but at the end of the day I need to make enough money to eat and live first. Only once I have my human needs met do I have the freedom to choose what to spend the surplus on.

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