[Translated from Contradictio]
Profit, also known as earnings or returns, is the surplus that owners of money, means of production or land make from a business with their respective commercial means. In our free-market economy, in which the freedom of property is legally protected, profit is the recognized measure of everything: it is the lifeblood of the society, on which not only the enrichment of the financial magnates depends – but virtually everything.
Therefore, an endless list can be made of what is preconditioned on profits and their realization, as their necessary and determinant condition:
- There must be profits because otherwise employees wouldn't be employed and wages paid;
- Profits are the Alpha and Omega of the national economy’s export success on the globalized world market;
- There must be profits in the housing construction sector, otherwise who would build homes? … and the unpredictable consequences for the housing market would lead to a housing shortage;
- There must be profits, otherwise there would be no growth and thus no money for hospitals (if they are not yet privatized and – must throw off profit), no money for education programs, for regional development projects, highways; without profits, no tax incomes for the state to pay its officials, to maintain its police and courts, for the international mission of the military, etc.
This boring list of everything that depends on profit makes perfectly good sense. The longer the list goes on, the more striking it should be. Each example should already prove the following: the number of things dependent on profits shows the indisputable necessity and therefore the goodness and benefit of profit. However, this is only a bald assertion because:
Where is the benefit for everybody if wages and salaries can never be low enough because of profit? If, because of profit, the pace of work must constantly be increased, and working hours have to constantly be expanded and made “flexible”? Who does profit help if, because of it, the number of environmental catastrophes never lets up? Is it a good thing if, for the sake of profit, rents are high and constantly continue to rise? The truth is that profits are beneficial for those who are keen on making them and for the state, while the majority of people must allow themselves to be used as a cheap means for profit.
There are plenty of critics of profit who are uninterested in how the application of the legitimate profit principle brings all the well-known negative consequences with it, that profit is based in practice on poverty and exploitation. These critics see it completely differently. They stick to the ideal of the usefulness of profit when they are confronted with its negative consequences. If profit making does not have the charitable effects they attribute to it, then – they claim – it is not at all because of profit, but an exaggerated pursuit of it. Profit in itself is not the reason for the various evils, but an excessively egoistic interest in it, that one thinks only of profit and nothing else. This criticism goes like this:
- Profits rise stupendously, but at the same time 15% of the staff are laid off – why? Once again the entrepreneurs are disregarding any sense of “social responsibility” because of profit;
- Women in the same job and with same qualifications as men are paid less – why? Because Mr. Businessman never stuffs his wallet enough and lacks any spirit of equality in his behavior, merely for the sake of his profit;
- Why do apartments in the centers of dense urban areas always become pricey? Because the real estate industry “ruthlessly” exploits the demand for their profit.
This is how critics of profit argue; with loud complaints that are good for nothing. Either profit, and concomitantly profit-making, is an indispensable and beneficial invention for humankind, in which case it can never be high enough, and the politicians who worry about it are on the right track when they orient towards nothing other than profit; or capitalistic money-making is not at all intended to be a means of livelihood for humankind, and the legitimate principle of the free-market economy from the get-go necessarily brings with it all the unpleasant consequences that everyone is all too familar with. So it is damn stupid to divide profit into good and bad: a sense for capitalistic business wreaks something done beyond good and evil …