Human Welfare or Profit?

By PSU EcoMerge Capstone - 8:59 PM


It is illegal for many corporate managers to make choices that don't maximize the profits of their companies.


If you had a choice between a profit return of 50% or 20% but the higher margin meant a village would be destroyed somewhere to mine for some mineral or the water supply for a village would be tarnished for human use forever, which would you choose? 

Well if you are in charge of one of the many large multinational publicly owned corporations, you don't have a choice. You MUST pick the one that returns that largest profit to your investors or you can be sued.

Even in financial circles there is commentary about the rise of a growth imperative and a profit imperative that values the perception of growth but often doesn't value the stability of a company or it's ability to generate wealth over a longer period of time.

It is a socialist idea that making profits is a vice. I consider the real vice is making losses.
- Winston Churchill
When someone as lauded as Winston Churchill makes this commentary it is easy to fall into the trance of the capitalist dream. The issue with capitalism and the profit imperative isn't that it is inherently evil, it is that it is born out of incomplete accounting. 

Walmart makes its profits on the backs of people who don't make a living wage. Chevron and other oil giants make their profits by destroying the environment. The fashion industry drives a continual buy and discard economy that devalues natural resources and also the people who it uses as it's models and spokes figures. Capitalism as we know it is incomplete and without a way to include the human and environmental cost of doing business on the balance sheet, then we will not realize the true cost of these "profits" until it is too late.


The death of the Great Barrier Reef is a good example. Where are we to account for this in the practices that led to it's death?


There are some motions that show that we are finding our conscience lately:


Whatever you do, remember that one of our only votes that matter any more is where we put our money. Humans or Profit, you decide.


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