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View Diary: Wall Street is Doing it Again: The Looting of America Continues (128 comments)

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  •  Things DO happen for better reasons than profit (7+ / 0-)

    Remember, profit is not "fair pay for fair work." It is what is left over after all other expenses, including pay, have been subtracted.

    For example, I bank with a credit union. They try not to generate a profit at all. If they do, they have to give it back to me and all the other customers.

    With modern computing and telecommunications, we could engineer a world without profit. In Chile, Salvadore Allende was on the brink of doing such a thing with the Cybersyn project when we (meaning, America) had him assassinated and military dictator Augusto Pinochet installed in his place.

    Profit motivates greedy, fearful and violent behavior, more than it motivates hard work and innovation.

    In July, I am going to the national Rainbow Gathering, sort of a hippie/anarchist gathering that takes place in a different national forest each year. Our national forests are not set up to generate a profit, and neither is Rainbow. It is entirely free. Pitch in if you want, no one demands it. You will be fed and given a warm dry place to sleep regardless. We're just a bunch of fairly impoverished hippies, how is it that we can do that, but the American Government can't?

    Saying, "If it weren't for profit, you wouldn't have signs" is akin to telling a bunch of Dickensian orphans in a work-house factory that, if it weren't for the work-house, they wouldn't have gruel. Perhaps true, but completely missing the larger evil.

    •  Here's what I'm getting at. (0+ / 0-)

      There is way more to this than meets the eye:

      http://www.econlib.org/...

      Boehner Just Wants Wife To Listen, Not Come Up With Alternative Debt-Reduction Ideas

      by dov12348 on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 09:26:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Is/Ought problem illustrated (7+ / 0-)

        Just because something is true, does not mean it should be true. There is nothing more to this than meets the eye. Profit is generally a bad thing. In moderation, it may be a necessary evil, but there is a reason most major world religions have considered usury a sin.

      •  More on the "Library of Economics and Liberty" (6+ / 0-)

        I am not trying to "poison the well" here, but in the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that you link to a fairly libertarian, pro free market site founded by a man, Pierre Goodrich, who made quite a bit of money as "profit" extracted from the hard work of others.

        Instead of giving his money to help improve the lives of the less fortunate when he died, he put his money into an institution whose sole purpose is to justify his chosen lifestyle by equating "profit" with "liberty." That seems quite self centered to me.

        •  Okay. (0+ / 0-)

          Next: Back to the issue.

          Boehner Just Wants Wife To Listen, Not Come Up With Alternative Debt-Reduction Ideas

          by dov12348 on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 09:47:35 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  This was the issue you brought up (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dov12348, elwior, CA wildwoman

            The link you provided, and thus, my commentary is relevant. If you have nothing of more relevance to add than "Next: back to the issues," why even write that? What are you hoping to achieve with that comment?

            •  Okay. (0+ / 0-)

              The issue has at least become, as I see it:  Is profit bad?  If so, why?

              Boehner Just Wants Wife To Listen, Not Come Up With Alternative Debt-Reduction Ideas

              by dov12348 on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 12:09:58 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  My point is that profit is bad in excess (3+ / 0-)

                That "profit," as opposed to "fair wages," motivates selfish, greedy, destructive behavior, behavior that seeks to take 99.9% of the value that is added in every transaction, instead of seeking a 50/50 distribution of that added value.

                This selfishness creates a mindset that is a sort of self fulfilling prophecy: when the majority seek to maximize profit at the expense of others, then everyone must do so or be taken advantage of.

                This mind set, endemic to our modern world, creates mistrust and an inward looking, self serving alienation. Individuals see themselves as isolated entities, small, impoverished and fundamentally weak things, instead of seeing themselves as part of an organic, cooperative, loving and supportive whole

                Profit seeking, in short, and in my humble opinion, creates ugliness, isolation, feelings of weakness, lack, and want. Cooperation creates feelings of strength, empathy, caring, love, engagement, and participation in something larger than oneself.

      •  Complex Mfg. not mutually dependent w/ Capitalism (4+ / 0-)

        The implication I'm getting from your string of comments is this:

        Because something is complex to manufacture, it is impossible to do without a capitalistic system.

        The implied defense of profit as a sacrosanct value in your comments within the context of this diary and the discussions it has sparked further leads me to believe that you are asserting that not only is capitalism in general essential for complex materials and goods, but we specifically need our the current form of increasingly lassaiz fare finance oriented capitalism?

        Communist Poland was great at making complex stuff.  So much so that they overproduced tanks and trucks.  Don't get me wrong.  Though I abhor contemporary capitalism I don't think the converse of state run industrial communism is much better.  Waste is waste, regardless of the economic ideology behind it.  

        Between peak resources and the unintentional, effectively irreversible geoegineering well underway, we need to reorient the creative engines of our economic policies to be focused less on the manifestation of ideals and more focused on actual results from the systems themselves.  Pragmatism with a capital P.

        The ideology that profit is the premier metric of economic success is THE driving force behind overconsumption and overproduction at this moment in the world.  We won't collectively be able to begin tackling the global problems we face if we continue to hold maximized profit as axiomatic to any functioning economic system.

        •  Re (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Brooklyn Jim
          We won't collectively be able to begin tackling the global problems we face if we continue to hold maximized profit as axiomatic to any functioning economic system.
          Isn't profit a proxy for "a lot of people want to buy your stuff"? If that's the case, aren't you producing something of value and adding to society that way?

          Under whatever other system you are describing, what signals me that what I am doing is valuable and I should do more of it?

          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

          by Sparhawk on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 10:15:25 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not necessarily. (3+ / 0-)
            Isn't profit a proxy for "a lot of people want to buy your stuff"? If that's the case, aren't you producing something of value and adding to society that way?
            Profit is not necessarily a proxy for that.  Profit is capital you have extracted from your business, usually in the form of money.

            Proceeds imply demand.

            The excess revenue can then be turned into a variety of things: more employees, better pay, capital investments and maintenance.

            Profit is owners draw, plain and simple.  It is what you take off the table.

            Small profits in a sole proprietorship or small business = modest take home pay for the owner and entrepreneur.

            Large profits mean something else is going on, whether it be customers being overcharged, workers getting shafted, safety and environmental concerns being skirted, patronage-based government subsidies being abused, etc.  All but the are often the result of "externalities," which is contemporary business speak for "stick someone else with the bill for our cost of doing business."

            Profit resulting from those dynamics represent the extraction of wealth from the commons.

            The biggest problem with wealth extraction is this:
            Wealth is the residue of complexity.  It is built up slowly, over a long period of time from the accumulation of increasingly complex interactions.  Complex systems persist because of a multitude subsystems of aforementioned interactions.  When you extract wealth from a system, you begin weakening subsystem patterns and complexity starts collapsing into increasing simplicity.  Profit is extracted and wealth is destroyed.  But it is not at a 1:1 ratio.  The profit that is taken also destroys some of the systems ability to continue accumulating wealth.

            A real world example in the context of the original diary: if California's school system ultimately needs to be reworked due to collapse under the burden of public debt, the cost is much more than the wealth originally extracted as profit by the financiers and the bondholders who were paid some interest.

          •  In theory, yes (0+ / 0-)
            Isn't profit a proxy for "a lot of people want to buy your stuff"?
            In the actual world, profit is often a proxy for exploiting workers, evading regulations (or nullifying them through regulatory capture), sticking your hand in the public trough, and/or conning desperate customers with a misleading and sometimes outright mendacious sales pitch.

            Tell me: How much of that has become the modus operandi for the financial giants in the US? (Hint: read the diary.)

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