This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

Profit motive as the engine of economic growth

Profit undoubtedly has a role to play, both from the standpoint of personal motivation and as reward for labor, and also as a measure of the success of an enterprise. However, when sought for itself alone it becomes greed plain and simple.

The principle of the maximization of profits, frequently isolated from other considerations, reflects a misunderstanding of the very concept of the economy.[1]

Not only does the blind pursuit of maximum profit lead to the abuse of workers who must rely on wages for their living,[2] but it can also obscure the fact that profitability does not, in itself, imply that an enterprise is playing a positive role in society.[3] On the contrary, “it is possible for the financial accounts to be in order, and yet for the people—who make up the firm’s most valuable asset—to be humiliated and their dignity offended.”[4] The goal of profit, legitimate within limits and as a measure of the health of a business, must be kept in harmony with the dignity of the person and the proper concern for environmental health, both of which are superior values.[5]

Perhaps the most disconcerting result of an all-embracing desire for profit is the fact that it inevitably excludes all those businesses and individuals who would choose to operate by a different motivation, and this is unjust. “Space also needs to be created within the market for economic activity carried out by subjects who freely choose to act according to principles other than those of pure profit, without sacrificing the production of economic value in the process.”[6]

[1] LS, 195.

[2] LE, 11.

[3] CCC, 2424.

[4] CA, 35.

[5] LS, 190.

[6] CV, 37.

Share This