Aug 30

Am I Evil? A Hard Rock Hard Look at the Profit Motive

Am I Evil?
A Hard Rock Hard Look at the Profit Motive

Part 1 of the Listening to Rock Music to Talk about Economics Series

by Lita Mustang

“Large corporations are evil,” shout protesters in the streets. “Why are they evil,” asks a reporter? “Because they make profits” is the reply. The protestors argue, “It only costs a certain amount to make their product, and they charge more.” “What do you think should happen to these profitable corporations,” queries the reporter. “We should burn them”, shriek the irate as they gyrate in the streets!

Now, I will not dispute that chanting in the streets about the evils of corporations can be enjoyable for some; after all, it is great aerobic exercise, nice way to meet like-minded individuals, and most chants have a good beat. But is it true that making a profit is evil? If this were true, does that mean the only moral company is one that loses money? Furthermore, would the most moralistic company be the one that is going out of business because it has lost all of its money? Should the successful CEO ask themselves, “am I evil?” Must a company be a financial failure in order to be a moral success?

There is nothing inertly immoral in making a profit. In fact, I would put forward that consistently making a profit is actually proof that your company is morally righteous. A company can set their price for a product to be anything that they want in a free market. The Garden Inc. could charge $3 and Wicked Garden Inc. could charge $3,000 for a dozen roses. It is a free market, and they can charge whatever they want, but there are consequences. At $3 for a dozen, The Garden would lose money on each sale, while Wicked Garden would make a large profit on each of their very infrequent transactions.

Some might argue that it is immoral to charge $3,000 for a dozen roses, but it is not depraved to charge such a sum if people are willing to pay it. Most people will agree that no one with a good head on their shoulders would pay $3,000 for a dozen roses or fall to pieces if they are deprived of their bouquet. Such expensive flowers are foolish to buy, but they are not immoral to sell, because no one is compelled by force to buy the roses. Armed florists are not breaking into people’s homes and forcing them at gun point with Velvet Revolvers to buy roses. No one has ever heard “do you want the guns or roses.”

If people are willing to pay more than the cost that it takes to produce the flowers, the company is moral because it is producing a good valued by others. Wicked Garden is providing people with what they want, they are satisfying a need. No one is ever forced to buy flowers, they are simply provided with an opportunity.

There is only one way a company can remain profitable over time, they sell a product at a price people are willing to pay. If no one bought roses for $3,000, Wicked Garden would go out of business. If customers approve of their prices, flowers will sell. The power lies with customers, they decide with their purchase which companies will be successful.

We should recognize profitable companies for what they are, a benefit to society. They provide adults with what they want. How is that evil?







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