LTE: Profit

People and Profits Are In Harmony
Mountain Xpress | 3/7/2012

In today’s headlines and protest signs we hear pleas to “put people ahead of profits.” But are people and profits opposed to one another? In commercial transactions, two parties profit: the seller and the buyer. The buyer acquires a product and the seller gains financially. This peaceable, voluntary transaction of value for value to mutual benefit is an exercise of the rights of individuals to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness. It is the proper and moral exercise of economic and political freedom.

When a person offers to mow your lawn for payment, he seeks to profit financially from his labor for his own betterment as he sees it. The same principle holds on larger scales. When Steve Jobs invents and sells an iPhone, Apple Corporation profits. And so do you. Profits motivate individuals to improve the lives of others and the prospect of making a profit is what makes any business enterprise worthwhile.

In a free market, a business profits to the extent that it pleases people by improving their lives. When it does not, it properly loses its profits and is replaced by competitors who stand to do a better job of pleasing people and, therefore, of making a profit. Profit is what people willingly give to businesses in exchange for the improvement of their lives in material ways. Profit is the measure of successfully serving the needs and wants of the community in a free, voluntary marketplace. It is the people who rule in a free economy. Consumers vote in the marketplace with their dollars and they are ruthless in their choices. They ultimately determine who will earn a profit and succeed and who will rack up loses and suffer defeat. In this sense, people and profits are in harmony and are not opposing concepts.


Why Is Creating Value Good, Profits Bad?
By Paul Hsieh
“Profit” is a dirty word. Profit-seeking businessmen are stock villains in Hollywood movies. “Occupy Wall Street” protestors demand, “People not profits” (whatever that means). Companies reporting healthy profits are automatically assumed to be exploiting customers and can only atone for this by “giving back” to their communities. “Making a profit” has an unsavory, morally suspect taint.


About Tim Peck

Unaffiliated Objectivist
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