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Forum Post: What do we value?

Posted 3 years ago on Oct. 7, 2011, 7:18 p.m. EST by wavefreak58 (134)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

Do we value society (people) above profit or profit above society?

The truisms of capitalism would have us believe that competition for profit actually benefits society. Even if we can accept this, when the seeking of profit becomes in actual practice more important than the social consequences, then we create an intrinsically unstable system.

The REAL question facing this country is what will we put first, people or profit? If we place people at the fore, this does not necessarily eliminate profit as a motivational force, But it would certainly change the equations used to decide how profit is generated.

What is dangerous is when the illusion of "good capitalism" is perpetrated through marketing, public relations and policy, when in fact all that is real behind the glittery curtain is profit for profit's sake alone.

13 Comments

13 Comments


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[-] 1 points by Idaltu (662) 3 years ago

Capitalism is based on an outcome of winners and losers. Which is about as fair a system as you can get when based on work output and effort to succeed. Of course this assumes that it is not rigged for who will be the winner and who will be the loser. OWS is not trying to impede capitalism. It is trying to find a way of impeding the rigging of the outcome.

[-] 1 points by thoreau42 (595) 3 years ago

If I have potatoes and you have meat, and we trade some potatoes for meat, don't we both win? Who's the winner and who's the loser? This is only shorthand for selling the potatoes for money and then buying meat with the money.

Capitalism is the voluntary exchange of goods and services for the mutual benefit of both parties (otherwise one party would refuse, and therefore there would be no deal). In theoretical free-market capitalism (theoretical because we can't get any government out of the way), everyone is a winner in every exchange. I'd love to hear a better theoretical solution.

[-] 1 points by wavefreak58 (134) 3 years ago

Winners and losers in capitalism is measured in terms of profit. There is no reason to think that no other determinations for winning and losing exist. The central premise to my opening post is about how winning and losing should be measured. Capitalism bestows first prize on those that generate profit. Are you suggesting that this is the only meaningful definition of winning?

[-] 1 points by Idaltu (662) 3 years ago

Of course not. What I am suggesting is that the system is rigged which means it is not Capitalism but rather 'fraud'.

[-] 1 points by wavefreak58 (134) 3 years ago

I suppose I am trying to reach past that fraud to define what should replace it. Capitalism is vulnerable to fraud because profit is its measure of winning and losing. Even if the present fraud was eliminated, we would be visited by fraud yet again because the laurels of victory within capitalism skew us away from examining the consequences of our actions on a larger scale.

[-] 1 points by April (3196) 3 years ago

I have no problem with companies being profitable. Most everyone benefits from profitable organizations. I don't think it is an either/or.

[-] 1 points by wavefreak58 (134) 3 years ago

I did not suggest it is either/or nor did I say that profit should be eliminated. I am asking which should take precedence? Our priorities are what drive our decisions. If profit is the preeminent motivator, it will shape a different society than one that places people at the fore.

[-] 1 points by April (3196) 3 years ago

Sorry if I misunderstood. I would say as a society we should always put human rights (people) above profits. No one should ever profit at the expense of human rights. I still say profit benefits society. The problem can arise in how corporations use those profits.

[-] 1 points by wavefreak58 (134) 3 years ago

It is hard to argue against placing human rights as the central motivator of a strong culture. I am suggesting that this has been supplanted by profit for profit's sake, even if there is still lip service paid to the ideas of human rights.

"Good corporate citizenship" is a bullet point on a marketing plan. You only have to create the perception of good citizenship for the marketing plan to be successful.

[-] 1 points by April (3196) 3 years ago

Yes, I see your point about lip service. And its sad that many companies aren't better corporate citizens. But I think the solution to that is the free market that we have. If you don't like the behavior of a company you can choose not to spend your money there.

[-] 1 points by wavefreak58 (134) 3 years ago

Surely you don't mean the "free market that we have" at this point in time? The markets are not at all free but regularly and deliberately manipulated.

[-] 1 points by April (3196) 3 years ago

In general, we have a free market. Not a perfect market.

[-] 1 points by wavefreak58 (134) 3 years ago

I guess I disagree with this. There is some degree of free markets in play. But when the scale gets to a certain point, things like patent litigation, monopolistic practices, legislative influence, and even outright fraud reduce free markets to a parody.

Further, the biggest players in the system are not served by free markets. The preservation of power and wealth is best attained through methods of control, not freedom, and as such it is not in their interests to allow free markets. They illusion of free markets is of course desirable as it is in and of itself one of the mechanisms of control.