Tuesday, February 28, 2017

That Terrible Corporation Did Something Because It Is PROFITABLE?! Off With Their Heads!

I should know better but still it keeps happening. I posted a comment on a story about Wendy's introducing automated kiosks for customers to place their orders, an obvious replacement for the entry level order takers we are used to at fast food joints. It seems like an overdue move, I am quite confident that I can punch in my order more efficiently using a touch screen than I can explain to a clerk what I am looking for. Obviously there will still need to be entry level unskilled workers to prepare the food, clean up and hand out the meals but it should shift the labor around a bit and reduce the number of people needed to efficiently handle the task of fast food restaurants. Needless to say I got some replies including one which warranted further response. Here it is, the name is blacked out to protect the innocence of the author of this incoherent, disjointed grammatical trainwreck.

My reply back to this gentleman and scholar was, essentially, duh, almost all of what corporations do they do for profit. That is kind of the point but we live in an era where corporations, created to maximize shareholder value via profit, are considered to be doing something wrong if they do something to increase profits and the very concept of profit itself is seen as something dirty. So here is a little economics pro-tip for ya.

If you get groceries at the store, live in a house or apartment, wear clothes, drive a car, own a TV, access the internet, use a cell phone, or really anything else you can thank profit. People don't build houses for the fun of it, other than some kooks who like that sort of thing and Habitat for Humanity. Grocery stores are not non-profit organizations, they buy food in bulk and sell it to you at a profit. That is how they exist and pay for the building itself and grocery clerks and check out lanes and refrigeration. Apple doesn't make iPhones as a public service, they profit from making iPhones and they profit handsomely.

The profits companies make pay the salaries of almost everyone. Oh yeah, well I work the government or a non-profit, my salary is untainted by the filthy lucre of profit! Where do you think non-profits get their money? What about the government? Profit is one of the engines that drives our entire economy. If you have a 401k, the gains you get are most likely attributable to profits. If you have a job, that is because of profit as well. Offering a product or service for more than what it costs to create that product or service is how virtually our entire private sector functions.

But some companies have too much profit! How exactly does one define that? A company you have no connection to might be "too profitable" but one you work for that provides you profit sharing or that you invest in really can't be too profitable, right?

Profit is not evil. Being "not-for-profit" is not morally superior to being "for-profit". Profit is simply getting more for economic output than you put into it. It is adding value. It is what drives our economy and what makes our economic system and created our enviable standard of living. It is the difference between a subsistence existence and one with luxury and comfort.

Just remember before you complain about profits. If you are reading this post, you are only doing so thanks to profits.
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