TED Conversations

Taylor Tomasini

This conversation is closed.

What if profit maximization is not only wrong, but dangerous?

Profit maximization implies hierarchy, standardization, and efficiency (how else do you maximize?) but these activities limit diversity and create bureaucracy.

Genetic diversity is what helped people survive the Bubonic plague. Terrorist organization survive because they have no leader (hierarchy). Your body creates redundancies (think two kidneys). And your psychological frame (profit maximization) can help you act in highly unethical ways.

What if profit maximization is contributing to unethical behavior, economic fragility, boom and bust cycles, and the degradation of society?

What if instead of placing profit at the center of our aims and desires we sought to maximize something else and simply made profits a constraint -- your business must be profitable in order to continue to exist?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Feb 1 2013: In my worldview, profit maximization is short-sighted and destructive.
    • thumb
      Feb 1 2013: : )

      I can't tell if you are kidding or not.
      • thumb
        Feb 1 2013: not. I believe that money itself the problem
        • thumb
          Feb 1 2013: I'm interested in hearing what you have to say. Will you elaborate a little?
      • thumb
        Feb 2 2013: Money is a human invention, and it serves as the "glue" that holds our cultures together. In human history, it's a rather recent invention. We can thank the Romans for popularizing it to the degree that it exists 2da.

        John Locke ("Treatises of Government") states that property ownership rights are based on three principles.
        1) There must be enough left over for others
        2) You must not let it spoil
        3) Must mix your labor with it

        So, for as long as you take no more than you can use, and you mix your labor with it, private property ownership works well. BUT, he then goes on to say that once the introduction of money is made by men's tacit consent, the rules change. Now

        1) You don't have to mix your labor with the world - you can buy labor using money. (pro inequality)
        2) Money doesn't spoil so you can have as much as you can get your hands on. (pro greed)
        3) There is no longer consideration for whether there is enough left over for others. (poverty creation and senseless destruction of earth resources encouraged)

        This appealed to the interests of capital owners (wealthy)

        Then Adam Smith comes along. He says that markets become stable through the invisible hand of the markets (invisible hand = a god-concept). He says that that among the inferior ranks of people (the not wealthy), the scantiness of subsistence sets natural limits on their reproduction - so that the "race" of laborers will be held in check by "natural law". The greater number of their children MUST die of poverty related causes - keeping the fiscal system stable. (The wealthy have no responsibility to the poor they created, because God takes care of that through "natural law" that protects the wealthy = divine right and divine intent.)

        Without the money that is intentionally threatening the lives of most, there cannot be profit maximization. No more plundering the earth's resources & devaluing fellow humans (inequality.) It is replaced with community working towards our self-iinterests

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.