It was recently mentioned to me that “In today’s world, there is a growing segment of our society who view profits as wrong, as evil. Corporations, companies, and others who pursue the profit motive are often considered mean, selfish, and unethical because it takes advantage of workers and the less fortunate.” This statement was then followed up with the question of whether or not pursuing profits is ethical.
We must address both points within the question as they are vital in understanding the true position. A growing segment sees profits as wrong; however, this can be correlated to another interesting statistic, which is also on the rise. We are witnessing an increase in those who favor socialism as well, and I believe the growing segment that this person addressed is the same one I am referring to. I also think these ideas of profit being unfair or wrong to be interlaced with socialism as they tend to be the driving battle cries for it.
Both liberal Democrats and those aged 18-29 have shown strong growth in their support for socialism, according to the Pew Research Center (Carrol, 2011). According to their research, today, a strong majority of liberal Democrats support socialism, and those aged 18-29 show an even greater shift toward favoring it. Considering the parties involved, I immediately suspect state-run institutions of higher learning as a cause because these two classifications tend to go hand-in-hand.
For clarity, socialism is a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community. In other words, “a socialist economic system is a system of production and distribution organized to directly satisfy economic demands and human needs so that goods and services are produced directly for use instead of for private profit driven by the accumulation of capital.”
If we did not have to contend with the “human factor,” it might sound nice, but this idea has a much darker side that is often either not taught to the 18-29 crowd or simply ignored by all suspect parties. Once again, according to Marxist theory, socialism is a transitional social state between the overthrow of capitalism and the realization of communism. If anyone knew this, it would be Karl Marx.
To those who support socialist ideas, I often present the following question: “Which communist state would you wish to live in? N.Korea, China, Cuba?” History has shown time and time again that this idea is a failure and one to avoid at all costs, if not simply destroy, once realized in your own society. Why? Because historically speaking, it is economic cancer. Even Vladimir Putin (then Russian Prime Minister and current President of Russia at the time of this entry) suggested that the United States learn from Russian history and NOT exercise “excessive intervention in economic activity and blind faith in the state’s omnipotence”; IE: Socialism (Putin, 2009).
The point in all of this is simply that socialism and communism are interlaced. In addition, these have also shown themselves to be highly ineffective in the long term. At the same time, these ideals suggest what the person mentioned above was talking about in that they view profits as wrong and evil, and those corporations, companies, and others who pursue the profit motive are mean, selfish, and unethical.
On the other hand, capitalists and many Americans (for the most part) embrace the idea of profit. Specifically, we tend to embrace financial gain. We strive to increase the difference between the amount we earn and the amount we spend, be it in our homes, operating a business, or producing something.
It is the old battle between Keynesian economics and Austrian economics. One appears to only work in ideal circumstances, while the other appears to work in reality. That being said, we are asked if it is ethical to pursue profit. Well, is it ethical to pursue an increase in your means? Is it ethical to expect a raise for loyalty and hard work? Is it ethical to be in a position of security if an emergency arises? Is it ethical to have savings for retirement or school or perhaps even acquire something nice for yourself or the family? Finally, is it ethical to take an idea, start a business and provide jobs for those who seek work and who also wish for those things listed here? These are the things that profit can bring.
Is it ethical to pursue profits? The logical answer is an absolute “yes.” The pursuit of profit is very much ethical and directly contrasts with socialist ideas.
Profit is supposed to be a reward. Perhaps it is HOW one acquires that profit that should be ethically scrutinized.
Did you enjoy this article? Then you might also enjoy my article titled: The True Face of Socialism – Not Pretty
I would also like to share an article written by the Washington Post titled: You know who was into Karl Marx? No, not AOC. Abraham Lincoln.