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Good Profit Is Not Always Good

In the business world, good profits are earned with customers' enthusiastic cooperation. A company earns good profits when it so delights customers that they not only come back for more, but also refer friends and colleagues. In contrast, bad profits are earned at the customer's expense. Whenever a customer feels misled, mistreated, ignored, coerced or disrespected, then any profits resulting from that customer are considered bad.

According to Robert Morpheal, a Canadian writer and philosopher," ignoring this basic understanding of good and bad profit, in our modern world we have seen more and more equation of "good" with "profit" as if the two words mean exactly the same. If there is no profit, it cannot be good. If there is profit it must be of some good. Profit and good in terms of being an increasingly absolute value have become regarded as more and more synonymous (meaning the same). “

This means that if something is losing money, or not making profits, it tends to be regarded as something that ought, morally, to be given up, in favor of what does make money, and is profitable. So we regard the closing down of activities, enterprises that are money losers, not money makers, as something more and more natural. It something that is less and less put into question. Twenty five years ago more people would have questioned the closure, cessation, of non profitable activities or enterprises. Today few would do so, and even those without much argument. It is simply more taken for granted that that is the "right" thing to do.

Morpheal: “Even western psychology has jumped onto that growing bandwagon supporting a mentality that closes down, gives up, ceases to pursue, activities and interests that would lose money, or fail to make a profit on investment of means to their pursuit. Those means are more extensive than simply money. Money is a necessary means in a monetary economy, but it is never a sufficient means in and of itself. We are talking about all the means necessary to the pursuit of an activity or enterprise."

This has proven to be a very dangerous way of thinking, and is a destructive trend in regard to the future of humanity. Much that is good, in more absolute terms, is not profitable. It does not make money, even if it might be much needed by human lives. We must begin to come to terms with this and we must begin to change our thinking on this, realizing that profit is not the same as good.

This means that ways must be established that support what is good, in terms of additional enterprises and activities, which do not turn a profit. We must begin to consider how to do what is good, for now and for the future, outside of the dangerously destructive constraint of "for profit". We cannot allow "for profit" to become the absolute value. The absolute value must be reasserted as being what is good for people, now and for the future. Often what is profitable is contrary to that good, and in conflict with good.

"Profit" and "good" are not the same meaning, in any language, and we must uphold that difference, not allowing erosion of that difference. We are suffering from that erosion of difference and we must blame those leaders who failed to make that difference part of their leadership. Fundamental part of their leadership. Good leaders understand the difference between "good" and "profit" and lead towards the "good" even when it is not profitable. We must support those leaders and we must remove leaders from power who do not understand, or do not choose to uphold that basic and vital difference.

The future of humanity depends on that revolution in politics, in economics, in society. What is needed is a sustainable profit which reflects a vote of confidence from society that what is offered is valued. The promise of growth is already built into today's share prices, as a reminder of investors’ expectations of future cash flows. This poses a dilemma as markets are saturated, political and economic uncertainty lowers spending, birth rates in developed countries are declining, and only one in ten companies is able to sustain growth. An intense discussion about the roles and responsibilities of companies towards global society is required calling the whole concept of growth into question. While economic growth has led to tremendous improvements in personal freedoms and well being for people in industrialized societies, it has left too many behind. The image of environmental destruction, hunger, disease and human misery refuse to disappear from our television screens. How can growth be made more sustainable while at the same time including and benefiting all of society?

The answer might be found in a new and sustainable profit and growth model. We cannot wait any longer, because as the previous century of dissipation and destruction has consistently shown, the good is under siege and imperiled, and we must save what is good from those who would destroy the good, in favor of a world based solely on profit. We cannot allow that evil to prevail, or humanity will be utterly destroyed.

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