Is the pursuit of profit crucial to solving the world’s problems?

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The first speaker I heard here at One Young World was the CEO of Bert’s Bees. He had a slide up on the big screen which explained that the bottom line has become the triple bottom line (see him explain below), which means that to profit we add people and the planet. And speaking to some of the delegates here, it’s clear many believe that the pursuit of profit is bringing a selfishness that’s harmful to our lives and our environment. Not all though.

One delegate from China told me he’s frustrated profit seems to have become a dirty word. He highlighted that chasing profit is bringing great changes to the standard of living in China.

Capitalism has a had a rough ride over the past two years. But does pursuing profit still over the best way to address the world’s problems. And do we risk diluting the benefits if we insist that every company all make accomodation for social and environmental concerns? Is there a chance that it’ll undermine the business and in turn mean fewer people are employed?

Tell us our views on the subject and whether it should make it on air.

93 Responses to “Is the pursuit of profit crucial to solving the world’s problems?”

  1. 1 audre
    February 10, 2010 at 15:08

    Profit in and of itself is not a dirty word. When profit becomes the sole reason for the existence of a business then it becomes a filthy word.

    Don’t let anyone tell you that asking businesses to be more responsible will lead to loss of jobs. That is exactly what happened when profit became the king. Profitable business folded in the interest of more profit, with the resultant loss of jobs in otherwise stable industries. Corporations saying that conducting business in a responsible manner will result in job loss is akin to the pot calling the electric kettle black.

    Commerce should exist for the people not the people for commerce.

    Just ask yourself the question: is my life worth more than serving profit?

  2. 2 JanB
    February 10, 2010 at 15:17

    I guess it has, oh well, that’s the way people are. When the economy shrinks by 1% in capitalist countries that are the richest on Earth everyone starts to complain that capitalism is bad (profit is a dirty word, but the people complaining about profit are only doing that because they’ve had some of their personal profit/income reduced recently, so they are in fact playing the profit game without even knowing it). No one has a viable alternative and deep down everyone knows the pursuit of profit is based on fundamental characteristics of human nature.

  3. 3 Roy, Washington DC
    February 10, 2010 at 15:23

    People are inherently selfish (for the most part). They will want to make a profit for either themselves or their company, and this will outweigh any concerns about other people, the environment, and so on.

  4. 4 Ibrahim in UK
    February 10, 2010 at 15:25

    If money is the sole consideration of a business, then it risks becoming dirty. I don’t though see an issue with the pursuit of money through “kosher” methods which take into consideration laws, social ethics and responsibility.
    The cost-benefit analysis also depends on the society in question and what their priority is. They may be willing to endure short-term suffering for long-term gain. (e.g. a dam project)
    The way capitalism has evolved today (or at least appears to), is that they are offering the opposite: short-term profits for long-term suffering… which may in fact be a consequence of society’s values : instant gratification while ignoring the long-term consequences (e.g. smoking? debt?)

  5. 5 Maccus Germanis
    February 10, 2010 at 15:33

    Is tyranny a nicer word?
    One person doing anothers will, without hope of profit, can be an example of the first persons altruism, but has more often been an example of the second person’s coercive power.

  6. 6 Ray in Nairobi
    February 10, 2010 at 15:36

    What IS dirty is the unspoken associated rule of a phrase . . PROFIT, MORE PROFIT, AT ALL COSTS. That’s what sub prime evinced and what we now know is that such a dogmatic pursuit of profit bears a cost on humanity itself.

    • 7 Maccus Germanis
      February 10, 2010 at 19:34

      If you refer to the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the US, then the distortion of the market -due to governmental intervention- resulted in a profit with no fear of costs mantra. Profit cannot be divorced from risk. However that risk can be unwisely shared, as the US government did.

  7. February 10, 2010 at 15:44

    Profit is a dirty word when it means self-seeking and individualism regardless what it costs to get it unlimitedly . Needless to say that one should think what they can do for society and not how much they can get out of it. The middle ground is seeking as much profit as possible without forgetting to share it with the rest of society. There are ways to show this through charity associations, development projects that can benefit the needy.

    It’s also unreasonable to indulge in excessive richness or to be satisfied with excessive poverty while there are means to improve one’s life.

    In short we should endeavour to get what we necessarily need without becoming prey to greed that makes us blind to the concerns of the others who need help in whatever form.

  8. February 10, 2010 at 15:50

    Profit is a good thing in the world of business – it provides jobs, choice for the consumer and opportunities for economic growth.

    However, quality of life for everyone should be more important. How businesses use their profit can be dangerous.

    Completely agree with Audre: “Commerce should exist for the people not the people for commerce”.

  9. 10 Idris Dangalan
    February 10, 2010 at 15:55

    Profit is life.

  10. 11 steve
    February 10, 2010 at 16:00

    Without “profit” the socialists on here cannot “redistribute” someone else’s money because they weren’t able to earn it.

    That money you envy, the money you want to redistribute, was the fruit of someone else’s efforts and their profits.

    • 12 David
      February 10, 2010 at 19:40

      That is upside down. All wealth is created by labor. The capitalist makes a profit only because he pays wages that are a fraction of the value created by labor. The profiteer is the one stealing from others. There is no sustainable possibility of selling over the cost of production. There is no possibility of an “add on”. Capitalist economists cannot explain where profits come from, that they are derived from unpaid labor.

  11. 13 Gary Paudler
    February 10, 2010 at 16:05

    To profit means to make more money than was invested which is a requisite for sustainable business so “profit”, in and of itself, isn’t a dirty word, but like anything can be, and often is, taken to dirty extremes. In the US the courts commonly uphold the bizarre notion that corporations enjoy the same rights as individual citizens while afforded privileges not available to people such as tax dodges and effective immunity from prosecution. Under the canard of “responsibility to our shareholders” businesses in the pursuit of ever-increasing profits have wrecked the environment, deformed society and ruined untold lives. Huge for-profit corporations often enjoy their profits thanks to the public trough at which they gorge on subsidized energy, labor costs depressed by job insecurity, tax loopholes through which one could pilot a supertanker and direct government handouts. Remember that every dollar that the government shovels at a bank, insurance company or corrupt defense contractor is a dollar that doesn’t go to public health, social services or infrastructure to benefit everybody. If “profit” is not a dirty word then it cannot be worshipped alone without regard to other necessities.

  12. 14 Rob C
    February 10, 2010 at 16:45

    No, profit is not a dirty word, but boring is – especially in media.

  13. 15 John in Salem
    February 10, 2010 at 17:12

    To borrow an adage from another tool:
    Profit doesn’t kill people – people kill people.

  14. 16 patti in cape coral
    February 10, 2010 at 17:26

    I think Ibrahim hit the nail on the head when mentioning the long-term versus the short-term, and how some economies (notice I’m not naming names) are addicted to instant gratification. I don’t think profit is a dirty word, but as Ray in Nairobi says, what makes it dirty is profit “AT ALL COSTS.” I think we aren’t good at policing ourselves and capitalism needs oversight, but who is going to oversee the overseers?

  15. 17 Frank in the USA
    February 10, 2010 at 17:37

    There are only two ways to keep people as productive as they can be:

    1. Profit motive–the capitalist way.

    2. Threat of imprisonment in forced labor camps–the communist way.

    Everything else is just muddling along toward ultimate failure. See Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain. In a year or two you’ll be able to add to that list.

    Of the two viable options, the first seems to have had the strongest legs.

  16. February 10, 2010 at 17:37

    The pursuit of profit at all costs will bring us all down in the end. Globalisation facilitates this and will only speed up the process. We are seeing it already with companies that shut factories and subcontract jobs out to China and India (for example) to avoid high wages and inconvenient regulations. They then import the goods back to where they were made in the first place, because the workers in China are so poorly paid that they cannot afford them. This drives the price down, and the only way other companies can survive is by doing the same. Eventually all goods are made in low-wage economies and shipped back to high-wage ones to sell them. But at some point, the people in the high-wage countries will have no jobs, so they can’t afford to buy things any more. The people in the low-wage countries could never afford them in the first place, so what happens? Now there is no point in making anything because you just can’t sell it. We are chasing our own tails, faster and faster. Unless we start to break out of this destructive cycle, it will break us all.

  17. February 10, 2010 at 17:51

    Money makes the world go around, so says the song.Quite right too.China,the arch socialist,now turning to capitalism.Lenins dream in ruins,Marks’s philosophy nothing more than dustbin material.Capitalism marches on.We would have very little without large profits for they equal large taxes,which in turn equals government spending,in democracies at least! The only people who complain about others profits are the,give us,give us brigade.They put nothing in but,want a lions share of others efforts.

  18. 20 Russ, San Leandro, CA, USA
    February 10, 2010 at 17:55

    Profit is fine but when its driven by pure greed it’s ugly!

  19. 21 Eric in France
    February 10, 2010 at 18:00

    Hello there,

    Profit is definitely not a dirty word if you wish a company to survive, to pay its employees, to invest and promote innovation, to raise new funds for new projects, to pay taxes so that a country infrastructure, healthcare, or school system can be developed for the benefit of all. In other words, the excess of return is positive.

    The true question is how to define that enough is enough. Partly, it is the market forces of competition and bargaining powers that determine the acceptable level of profitability. But, it is also a societal definition where a trade-off between personal enrichment and community redistribution is implicitly agreed.

    Another side on the issue of making profit is about reward. Indeed, how can you from outside estimate what is an acceptable salary and reward for an individual. The level of reward is more and more perceived from outside as well as from other employees as inappropriate, because the link reward-performance does not seem related to the profit level and even less to its sustainability.

    The shock is commonly cultural. Since the raise of truly global companies, it has been difficult to understand who profit the most from profit. Anglo-saxon societies have profit redistribution through charity, latin ones through state welfare and taxation. In a global environment with poor transparency and governance, it all sounds very unfair for the majority.

    Take care.

  20. 22 nora
    February 10, 2010 at 18:12

    Profit from what? The profit from landmines and the profit from a weaving co-op’s fabric are both profit. The cost/benefit and how profit is distributed would be quite different. The old reds always called profit surplus value when I was a kid, and it makes it more vivid. Unions and economists ponder the equation of capital and sweat equity in every negotiotiation. Surplus gets you through the storm in the right hands. It builds walls with horrendous spikes to protect itself from the hungry in the wrong ones.

    I dove into worker owned businesses during the recession of the 70’s and several of the co-ops are doing well thirty years later. Put the profit into serving the community with good jobs and a safe workplace.

  21. 23 Greenbel
    February 10, 2010 at 18:41

    Profit, in itself, isn’t dat dirty. However, if not kept in check, it tends to make one more self-centered and, thus, less caring about others.

  22. 24 Clamdip
    February 10, 2010 at 19:10

    Profit from drugs has done a lot to destroy people’s lives and communities. It has overburdened the health system and emergency services. It’s also lead to numerous killings. When all tolled, how can one justify this type of profit?

  23. 25 Guido, Vienna
    February 10, 2010 at 19:13

    Profit is important for the economy. Governments have to think beyond money.

  24. 26 EchoRose in Florida
    February 10, 2010 at 19:16

    Profit is not a dirty word. A corporation can choose to spend it just as an individual chooses to spend their pay… i.e. Some corporations will choose to invest in things that may not benefit society, people or environment.

    Money is not the root of all evil, the LOVE of money is…

  25. 27 Shane, Jamaica
    February 10, 2010 at 19:16

    Profit isn’t the problem, Greed is.

  26. 28 pendkar
    February 10, 2010 at 19:19

    The short-sighted, feverish, profit seeking of the last few centuries cannot continue anymore. The planet is a closed, delicate system. Every action has consequences that need to be weighed.

    There may not a way of getting an endless amount of everything for cheap, without creating serious deprivation elsewhere.

    It may be good to have more balanced economies all around. Every country manufacturing some high value goods, and getting a decent price for agricultural products.

  27. 29 EchoRose in Florida
    February 10, 2010 at 19:19

    If we are so concerned about making corporations have more of a conscience, perhaps we should vote with our dollars, euros and yens and spend them on corporations that support our ideals of good investment.

  28. 30 Anthony
    February 10, 2010 at 19:21

    All these people crying about social responsibility should start their own businesses and run them that way. If not, they should stop expecting other people to work for their benefit.

    Sounds like a bunch of immature kids who just wants what they don’t deserve. And guess what, you can BOYCOTT.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  29. 31 Ronald Almeida
    February 10, 2010 at 19:23

    Yes, profit is a dirty word if it’s the only criteria for any business, which it happens to be most of the time since greed and gluttony are the driving forces. But on the other hand if profit is a necessary aspect to serve the consumer with improvements and provide work for the employees how can it be a dirty word?

  30. 32 Tom D Ford
    February 10, 2010 at 19:24

    The Un-Regulated pursuit of profit through Derivatives and the financial instruments created from them has created the current world economic problems.

    Profit can be useful if it is Well Regulated.

    Moderation to the max!

    • 33 Maccus Germanis
      February 10, 2010 at 19:39

      The derivatives were born of regulation. Without Federal guarantees, the derivatives would have had to stand on their own independent risk assessment.

      • 34 Josh
        February 10, 2010 at 19:48

        Yes, but those derivatives were originally illegal, and it was deregulation that allowed banks to engage in those practices.

      • 35 TomK in Mpls
        February 11, 2010 at 16:45

        Derivatives were conceived as insurance for risky loans. One division of AIG decided to generate cash flow by not holding sufficient reserves to make good on the policies. Because of this, they were able to charge low enough rates that people saw a chance to control risk on ‘shaky’ investments.

        All we need to do is legally define them as insurance, subject to the same laws, and they will be fine. Keep the government out of business. It is not their area of expertise, nor is it their job.

  31. 36 Doug in San Francisco
    February 10, 2010 at 19:24

    No, no, no – consumers are not at fault. Corporations – and governments – can mislead, mis-inform, under-inform the public for profit.

  32. 37 Anthony in Reno, NV, USA
    February 10, 2010 at 19:24

    He/she who puts forward the risk shall reap the rewards. It is their decision what to do with it from there.

  33. 38 Anthony
    February 10, 2010 at 19:26

    Wal Mart is a horrible company that takes advantage of people and situations ALL around the world. Although I boycott it, many don’t care about their atrocities and would rather have salt and pepper shakers for $1.00. It’s the peoples fault, and when the economy crumbles they want to blame everyone else.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  34. 39 carol
    February 10, 2010 at 19:27

    I don’t think profit is the dirty word….I find it interesting that no one has said “greed” is the problem…..for all of us, th consumer, the CEO, etc. Power is also a part of the problem. We need to recognize these 2

  35. 40 Louis
    February 10, 2010 at 19:29

    Profit is what drives the world. Profit drives what we able to do as a society as well as what companies are able to do for society. Profit supplies jobs, funds programs, and drive innovation. I agree that profit gained illegally should be looked down upon even if the profit is being used to fund a good cause.

  36. 41 Guido, Vienna
    February 10, 2010 at 19:30

    You cannot make the consumer responsible for sustainable development. It is impossible to know for every product how it is produced.

  37. 42 nora
    February 10, 2010 at 19:30

    Happiness index. We need full bellies for safe streets. Corporate lies and thievery just crashed our economy. In every generation grannies pension disappears. Something has to change and these young people make me believe in solutions. Cheers to the future.

  38. 43 Leo in London
    February 10, 2010 at 19:31

    Whilst I agree that goverments, large corporations, big business are largely repsonsible for many problems in the world, on the point about consumers also being responsible I believe that consumers also more often than not, do create the demand for goods and services.

    If you disagree with the practices of a company or the goods it’s creates, don’t buy or deal with them. Spread the word.

    Even with companies’ aggressive marketing practices, good news can travel fast, but bad news travels even faster.

    Every time you buy a product, you are casting your vote.

  39. 44 David
    February 10, 2010 at 19:31

    Profit is dirty because it is nothing but value taken by the capitalists from those that labor, the working class. Profit is value extracted from workers that is not paid for. It is exploitation. Capitalist economists deny this, but also have no rational explanation for what profit is. In the end there can be no add on to the total cost of production. What a profit is is the sale of goods at the cost of production, but with wages set below the value produced by workers. Thats how profits are made. This is not a new understanding. I’m surprised that hardly any of the commentators are aware of this fact.
    Also, much of the world is impoverished because decisions about what gets produced is made only in consideration of profits extracted, and not human needs.
    We need to eliminate exploitation. We need to eliminate the profit system.

  40. 45 Ken
    February 10, 2010 at 19:32

    Everyone loves convenience; everyone strives to live an ‘easier’ life. It is inconvenient to go out of one’s way to find out which company produces environmentally friendly products. Companies spend thousands to advertise the benefits of their products, and if the environmentally friendly products are more expensive, they simply won’t be bought by the masses. It would be environmentally friendly if everyone got their energy through solar cells, but it is out of the reach of many, and thus not an option.

  41. 46 Kacey
    February 10, 2010 at 19:33

    Profit and what should be done with it depend on your view of what a human is entitled to. What does a person deserve to have, regardless of thier contribution, food, shelter, health care..I-phone?

  42. 47 patti in cape coral
    February 10, 2010 at 19:34

    I’m so sorry to be saying this, but when choosing between products I usually choose the less expensive one because quite honestly, I have to. I can’t afford to think about if it was made or manufactured ethically. This especially is true of food, but I finally found an ethical alternative and I’m learning to grow my own fruits and vegetables. So far I can eat my own mangoes and pineapples. I’m working on the vegetables, but there is a learning curve, so in the meantime I’m still buying the least expensive vegetables I can find, even if I have to go to that den of iniquity, Walmart.

  43. February 10, 2010 at 19:34

    The profit motive is a powerful force behind creativity and invention, and when regulated by WISE and non-corrupted government can be shaped to serve the public good. Tax policies, such as investment tax credits, are a useful method.

    But this depends upon an aware and well-informed public electorate, the absence of which is carefully cultivated by the profit-obsessed corporatocracy, their incessant advertising and trivialization of the public mind.

  44. 49 EchoRose in Florida
    February 10, 2010 at 19:35

    Yes, profit and social conscience CAN be congruent! Just look at the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation for that example!

    • 50 Linda from Italy
      February 11, 2010 at 13:31

      Dear EchoRose,
      I ‘m afraid I don’t consider the Gates ego-trip a very good example.
      The software corporation Gates founded and which is still run under the same ethos shamelessly promotes useless consumption with its constant software upgrades that you are eventually forced to buy as any kind of product assistance or compatibility with other programs disappears.
      I have only been using Windows XP for about 4 years, managed to avoid Vista, but now I need to invest in new hardware, I am forced to change over to W7, something I don’t need and don’t want. As a freelance translator living in the backwoods of Southern Italy, I am dependent on ICT in order to work, so this is the ultimate in commercial coercion.
      Mr and Mrs Gates may well be flaunting their 3rd World good deeds for shed-loads of kudos and humanitarian brownie points by diverting a small fraction of their millions into “philanthropy”, but this has been, and continues to be done on the backs of hard-working people with modest incomes, nothing short of racketeering to my mind.

  45. 51 shawn
    February 10, 2010 at 19:36

    Profit is a dirty word.

    So all the speakers should turn their wages over to charities to be dispursed to those who need it more.
    After all, wages is just another word for profit.


    • 52 David
      February 10, 2010 at 19:46

      Not true. Wages are not profit. Wages paid to workers are always less than the value they produce. Profits are unpaid wages. Capitalists are compelled to pay for all materials needed in production at cost. The only way they make money is through unpaid labor.

  46. February 10, 2010 at 19:36

    the fault is with the human psyche and human nature, we have a tendency to comfort, but its seems that we take this idea of comfort too far, how many cars do you need? how many tvs? how many computers? how is all this affecting your connection to nature? it is a matter of greed and where our limits are! are you saying that this planet can susation all our wildest dreams as it stands now? we are all responsible with regard to profit, yes the people in power positions have more say but noone stops you from buying that gadget(or thing) that very directly affects our world in a way that you dont like, as soon as we all take responsability then things can change, but were all sitting here talking and pointing finger and then we go home and to the store to our regular habits, look at yourself right now and analyze your clothes, your gadgets and think how many people like you are there and how much you all affected the world by your little choices

    • 54 Reali
      February 11, 2010 at 07:22

      I think the consumers often forget how much power they even have. With out consumers no company flourishes. If we don’t purchase what they are selling then they wont sell it. If we change they HAVE to change or they will go under. WHY don’t people understand this, we always say that they choose what we buy they are in control. I don’t agree that they have more power than us. I do agree that it needs to be us (the people of the world) that are the change. The companies will follow or they will sink.

  47. 55 Anthony
    February 10, 2010 at 19:42

    Everyone I know HATES the gas companies, yet are you car pooling? Did you buy a bike? I know people who drive two or three blocks away to get some milk rather than walk. I know people who complain about oil companies, yet they have V-8 trucks when they don’t need it. Ridiculous.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  48. February 10, 2010 at 19:42

    Profit, along with fire and language, is one of the great inventions of our race n reasons we’re gone on to dominate this planet. Profit is something extra that you think you are getting for your effort. If there is no gain for your effort, you aren’t going to do it, unless it’s a matter of pure survival. I would like to ask everyone in this conference if they would actually do anything if there was no profit involved, real or intangible. Would any of you sell anything at the same value that you paid for it? Would you work for basic salaries or if whoever you work for just pays you enough to pay the rent, regular clothes, and four meals? Volunteering is something else. They might do it for sometime, but that would be to gain experience, tweak up their resumes or just to decrease the guilt they feel for what they have. Would you work for the lowest paying company or the ones paying you the most.

    CSR is done for profit. Corporations do these CSR activities for pure marketing and visibility. Sometimes corporations pour more money into advertising their CSR effort than the effort itself. Is there any corporation or person who hasn’t put their logo on their activity and gone on the blowhorn about their CSR? Without profit, the whole world would go out of balance. Moreover, I don’t think there is such a think as equal distribution. If everyone was equally rich, the world wouldn’t work. All this profitless talk, although quite a nice concept, is rhetoric and the people who say it don’t believe in it.

    To the question of how much profit is too much, I think it is the consumers who will answer; if the consumers feel that something is too much, they shouldn’t buy it.

  49. 57 Tom D Ford
    February 10, 2010 at 19:42

    I think we ought to put The People at the top of our priorities list and then ask ourselves how to modify all of our economic systems so that they serve The People, instead of serving The Corporations.

    And we should take away Corporate “person-hood”. Corporations should not have the equal rights of actual living and breathing human beings.

    Make profit serve The People, instead of The People serving The Profit.

    It’s people wot matters!

    • 58 Maccus Germanis
      February 10, 2010 at 20:09

      Odd that you would incorporate individuals into “The People,” to suggest that existing corporations of voluntary participation should have less rights than this new compulsory corporation.

  50. 59 josh
    February 10, 2010 at 19:43

    Everyone is motivated by the ability to improve ones station in life. Profit provides a means to that end. The best solution to problems is to give all individuals the opportunity to seek profit as they see fit. With no motivation for improvement then people will not innovate. If I make money and then you take it away to give away as you see fit I will then lose any motivation to seek more profit.

  51. 60 Josh
    February 10, 2010 at 19:43

    I’m tired of everyone picking on the poor corporations. They want to do good in the world, but evil and greedy consumers are forcing them to engage in unsavory business practices. Why do we have to hold people accountable for their own actions? Businesses aren’t at fault for what they did – everyone else in the world is at fault for what businesses do.

  52. 61 Matthew in Texas
    February 10, 2010 at 19:44

    Profit and the profit motive is a very good thing. However, capitalism MUST be regulated! Consumers have so little power. All the good will from the majority of consumers will still not prevent the problems of today!

    Example: Capitalistic agendas should never be allowed to be so destructive to environment. It takes Government making regulations that can control the companies footprint in the world.

  53. 62 Chintan in Houston
    February 10, 2010 at 19:44

    I hear a lot of free market talks.
    Can someone tell me what a merchant in a ‘market’ is trying to do…..i can, MAKE A PROFIT!!
    Those people who are apposed to it can live in forests and just live ‘off the land’ so to speak.
    Some of these young leaders are too idealistic.

  54. 63 Alfred,Accra Ghana
    February 10, 2010 at 19:46

    Profit in itself is not a bad idea neither is an aspiration to achieve it.The question we should ask is what environmental/social/Economic etc rules are bent inorder to achieve these profits and secondly how are these profits distributed

  55. 64 Iddi Musyemi
    February 10, 2010 at 19:47

    Profits make people work hard. It gives people some level of responsibility that enables them to continue selling their products or services.

  56. 65 Anthony
    February 10, 2010 at 19:47

    It sounds like these people are just talk to me.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  57. 66 patti in cape coral
    February 10, 2010 at 19:49

    My answer to Ros’ question, how are you changing what you do? I’m consuming less and learning to grow my own food! Riding my bike and recycling too. It seems the things I do for the environment can help the economy?

    P.S. I don’t ever buy bottled water, I always thought it was the dumbest idea ever!

  58. 67 jayne in the Wirral
    February 10, 2010 at 19:52

    The very fact that young people are now discussing ‘ profit ‘ is precisely because it is in crisis and at the root of our problems .The notion of a ‘new form of profit’ is a misnomer, and a fanciful desire for change , but without the fundamental change of the mechanism that dictates to all.

    the profit system collapse due to its own internal contradictions that govern it ….no act of idealism or wishful thinking changes this.

  59. 68 Alan in Arizona
    February 10, 2010 at 19:52

    If you are wanting companies to donate a part of their profits to better the world, aren’t you just wanting to impose another type of TAX?

    Let companies donate help and give them a tax cut for the donation. But then who is to say were the money will go. Without the tax money, how will a Government run.

    Nothing is free! Work hard, pay your taxes, give help to people who can’t do what you can do.

  60. 69 Doug in San Francisco
    February 10, 2010 at 19:56

    Without a fully informed public the government should regulate when the marketplace does not take into account all aspects of a product. For example, the cost of bottled water does not include the cost plastic pollution which ends up in animals, birds, and fish.

  61. 70 Andrew
    February 10, 2010 at 20:00

    Ate people seriously patting themselves on the Back for using tap water ?

  62. 71 patti in cape coral
    February 10, 2010 at 20:00

    Fascinating show, young people that are at least thinking about these things make me feel hopeful for the future. There seemed to be more concrete ideas and less blaming than in the last young group show you had.

  63. February 10, 2010 at 20:05

    The key to changing profit’s impacts on the world isn’t about additional transparencies, government regulation, or consumer action. It’s about changing what’s convenient. How many people buy bottled water because it’s convenient? How many people buy Apple iPhones because they’re a “does it all so I don’t need to manage other things” phone? How many people buy Shell or Chevron gasoline (in the US) because it’s the closest gas station? We, as conscientious world citizens, need to demand a shift in the creation of ‘convenience.’ No more fast food that contribute to obesity. No more smoking that contributes to millions of deaths. No more bottled water because it’s easier than tap. We need to take ‘convenience’ into our own hands, master making what’s right for the world the new form of convenience, and spread it to all those we know.

  64. February 10, 2010 at 20:18

    Profit is not a dirty word at all in innovation and entrepreneurship dominated today’s contemporary world.

    It opens the door of opportunities and competition among the business companies and provides the options for the consumers.

    Profit shouldn’t be the life jacket but quite permanent tool for the CSR, sustainable economic growth and green economy. But the global social welfare is more important than profit.

  65. 74 jayne in the Wirral
    February 10, 2010 at 20:20

    We need to produce foods/goods/services for NEED & not PROFIT.

  66. 75 Jeff Wadulo
    February 10, 2010 at 20:36

    People should make as much money as possible but use it responsibly to make a difference in the lives of especially the world’s poorest and vulnerable. Without enough money, you cannot achieve much.

  67. 76 dwaln
    February 10, 2010 at 21:07

    Profits can come from organization, innovation, efficiency, and effort.

    Profits can also come from exploiting people, or the environment.

    Lets use a sports analogy to clarify that the issue is competition, and how we manage it with leagues, rules, and referees.

    Competition without leagues, rules, and referees, is a slaughter.

    Competition with leagues, rules, and referees, has many motivational and organizational benefits.

    We can argue about the criteria for the leagues, the restrictiveness of the rules, and the effectiveness of the referees. But surely we can agree that they are necessary and workable if applied equally.

    Global competition has been several steps ahead of the evolving structures of leagues, rules, and referees.

  68. 77 gary indiana
    February 10, 2010 at 21:32

    I should think pursuit of solutions to world problems starts with adequate definition and not with worrying about the means. The surest evidence of ignorance and avarice is the assertion that money, or the pursuit of it, represents a solution to any specific problem. Indeed, a fair number of world problems (A goodly number of current and past wars for instance) could have been solved by curtailment or alteration of specific sorts of profit-making enterprises. This approach is rarely preferred by those more wishing to make money. At any rate “Define the problem.” is first in my book.

  69. 78 JanB
    February 10, 2010 at 22:04

    The pursuit of profit through capitalism has been very successful in bringing wealth to most of the world (even parts of Africa), so until someone comes up with a better system it will be a useful tool to spread the wealth even further. Profit is the only known method to motivate entire populations.

  70. 79 Clamdip
    February 10, 2010 at 23:30

    Some of us in have made changes to our lifestyles like taking the bus, not consuming electricity, living within our means. I don’t blame people for adopting a consumer lifestyle because there have been strong forces to get people to consume and live an untenable lifestyle, especially in the U.S. I do agree that people need to alter their lifestyles or dash the socially engineered dream that Americans have been living for so long.

  71. 80 ADEYEMI
    February 10, 2010 at 23:34

    In my opinion, profit in itself is not bad, rather it is good.The issue is what do you do in other to make profit.The desire to be the dominant force,the major player,the point of reffrence, makes people or coporations,go the extra mile to make more money and so have more influence,in the couse of this, morality is trown to the wind. It no longer matters what is done to make profit but how much profit is made.So the problem is with us all. The desire to exult ourselves over others leads to actions that are unbeneficial to the general welfare of all.This is what happens in the instance of the companies,politicians,government and individuals.One thing is paramount no individual,coporation or government can get others to accept their pre-emiinence. No one will accept to be second tier. So the pursuit of pre eminence will continue but will never be accepted by others no matter how hard the individuals,coporations and governments try.

  72. 81 Richard in Arkansas (USA)
    February 11, 2010 at 02:20

    Profit at all costs has become the norm here in the states, and it sucks. If a company invests alot in quality products, offers them at a reasonable rate, and provides good old fashioned customer service, profits will naturally flow from an enterprise like this and should. IF, however, profits are ill gotten from immoral behavior, taking advantage of employees, lying to customers, etc., then profit is not good. Unfortunately, more and more companies in the U.S. fall into the later, and not the former.

  73. 82 Subhash C Mehta
    February 11, 2010 at 07:46

    If any person/agency/institute/organization/business profits, in cash or kind, by making its employees and environs happy, then profiteering is healthy and worth chasing; In any kind of ‘chase’, It’s the honesty/justifiability of purpose that matters/helps the most to make the world a happy place.

  74. 83 audre
    February 11, 2010 at 14:51

    What I find interesting and more than sad is that people with nothing are convinced that their purpose in life is to work their fingers to the bone for the privileged without whom, we are told, society could not exist.

    We have bought this line of thinking hook, line and sinker based on nothing but indoctrination, which begins early in homes, churches and schools.

    There are two things (at least) that need to be done before we can to begin to think of a better society:

    1. Start a discussion about the across the board belief in the concept that money is the prime motivator for goods and services.

    2. Look for reasons why the people with power, in all political structures, very seldom have the populace at heart.

  75. 84 Vijay Pillai
    February 11, 2010 at 15:34

    Get abck to ethical business and avoid financial melt donw again

  76. 85 TomK in Mpls
    February 11, 2010 at 16:53

    One thing everybody seemed to miss. It is human nature to focus on bad news more than good. A bad reputation is stronger and lives longer than a good one. What is the percentage of bad companies compared to to average and good ones. Use any measure of good and bad you choose.The focus needs to shift to relative performance, discrimination is a good thing, use it. Focus on the mainstream and deal with the aberrations separately.

  77. 87 John in Salem
    February 11, 2010 at 18:02

    Profit = incentive = innovation.
    It’s a great system. Being socially responsible doesn’t automatically require ignoring one’s self-interest – it just means having a conscience about how you pursue it.

  78. 88 Harry Webb
    February 11, 2010 at 18:40

    Profit is an abstract concept, which has been eating away at the species for millenia. Unfortunately, it has now been so systemized into everything that we do that nobody can conceive of a World without Economics. There is no real reason why we cpouldn’t utterly dispense with accounts and accounting and, simply be goood and helpful neighbours. Unfortunately, nobody appears able either to conceive of simply undermining the entire system at a grassroots level by simply not participating in our exchanges of tokens. Instead of Money serving the species, the reverse is now true. Money has outlived its usefulness as a tool. It needs to go the same way as the neolithic axe!

  79. 89 Monica
    February 11, 2010 at 18:57

    Our society does not offer enough alternative choices. Those few alternative choices that are more morally or ethically responsible tend to be the more difficult options. Humans will naturally choose the easiest route, therefore if alternative choices were just as easy (or economic) as the mainstream choices, they would be more popular. I give an example: I have made the personal decision not to have a car. This is certainly not the easiest option (it is more economic though!). I have to walk or bike in a town that is not conducive to public transit. This take considerable time that a majority of the population can not afford. Therefore, we our society had made us a slave to our car. How can we change this? How can capitalism make it easier for people to make different choices?

  80. 90 Michel Norman
    February 11, 2010 at 19:36

    The pursuit of short-term profits has led the western world to come to the sound economic decision that it is much cheaper to pay a chinese factory worker a pittance than to pay a factory worker a minimum wage in Europe or America. By the same token it is cheaper to pay an Indian in New Delhi to answer the telephone than it is to pay a clerk in Wales. And it is well- profitable to import cheap foreign workers to work in hospitals, hotels and care homes – It is all very profitable in the short term – the only problem is that Westerners are now no longer needed in the work force and in the final analysis that is the root cause of the financial crisis. The profit for the few driven global village is a disaster for the west – is this not a no-brainer!

  81. 91 Thomas Murray
    February 12, 2010 at 22:40

    Absolutely not!

    Here’s the reason.

    In the US, health care reform has hung up on the proposal of a so-called “public option,” which is a euphemism for government provided insurance, a provision that the US health insurance industry has colossally torpedoed.

    Private insurance providers are motivated by profit, which means they’ll cut corners where they can to keep their money from their clients (where horror stories are legend). You can think what you want about government, but only the most cynical won’t concede that the motivation of public servants is less about profit than altruism. (Okay MASSIVE EGO plays a role in it, also, at my end, bureaucracy seems filled by people too nasty to survive in the private sector.)

    So far our private insurers have been acting like a velvet mafia with the shake-down artists exhortation, “It would be a shame if you were to have a heart attack without our protection” — a circumstance that could lead to our next financial meltdown in the midst of an eventual overwhelmingly aging population, while the insurers lament, “Geez, I didn’t realize their were so many old people out there!”

    Public health care is simply too important to left to capitalists.

    And neither is “the world’s problems.”

    –Louisville, Kentucky, US.

  82. 92 Tan Boon Tee
    February 15, 2010 at 03:37

    Relentless and wild pursuit of wealth by filthy means has been the main cause of the current economic crisis.

    It is the root of most evils and global conflicts.

  83. 93 Mike
    February 16, 2010 at 12:30

    In my opinion there are often whims lurking in comments on this type of subject, so as such I feel they have no justification for me.

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