Tag Archives: Profit Motive

Richard Epstein explains why economic inequality is required in order to promote innovation

My friend Matt, who blogs at The Conscience of  a Young Conservative, posted this on Facebook.

Epstein explains how the profit motive creates economic value that raises the standard of living of all people, who are able to exchange their money for valuable products and services that they did not create. He explains how wealth redistribution is wasteful and harmful to economic growth.

(Found here)

Now let’s look at some myths that Christians believe about economics.

We need to understand basic economics

Christian philosopher Jay Richards explains basic economics.

Excerpt:

THE ZERO-SUM GAME MYTH.

There are three kinds of games: win-lose, lose-lose, and win-win. Win-lose games, like basketball, are sometimes called “zero-sum games.” When the Celtics and the Bulls compete, if the Celtics are up, then the Bulls are down, and vice versa. The scales balance. It’s a zero-sum.

Besides lose-lose games, which most of us avoid, there are positive-sum, or win-win, games. In these games, some players may end up better off than others, but everyone ends up at least the same if not better off than they were at the beginning.

Millions of people think that the free trade in capitalism is a dog-eat-dog competition, where winners always create losers. This is the zero-sum game myth, which leads many to think that the government should somehow redistribute wealth. While some competition is a part of any economy, of course, an exchange that is free on both sides, in which no one is forced or tricked into participating, is a win-win game. When I pay my barber $18 for a haircut, I value the haircut more than the $18. My barber values the $18 more than the time and effort it took her to cut my hair. We’re both better off. Win-win.

THE MATERIALIST MYTH.

A similar myth leads people to think of the economy as some fixed amount of material stuff—money in safes or gold bars in a vault. Since two firms competing for one customer can’t both get the customer’s money, we might think the whole economy looks that way: wealth itself isn’t created, it’s merely transferred from one party to another.

A common image of this “Materialist Myth” is a pie. If one person gets too big a slice, someone else will get just a sliver. To serve it fairly, you have to slice equal pieces.

This isn’t how a free economy works, however. Over the long run, the total amount of wealth in free economies grows. We can create wealth that wasn’t there before. The “pie” doesn’t stay the same size. Under capitalism, someone can get wealthy not merely by having someone else’s wealth transferred to his account, but by creating new wealth, not only for himself, but for others as well.

THE GREED MYTH.

Friends and foes of capitalism often claim that it is based on greed. Writer Ayn Rand even claimed that selfishness is a virtue (see the accompanying feature article). But greed is one of the seven deadly sins. If capitalism is based on it, then Christians can’t be capitalists.

In truth, Adam Smith and other capitalist thinkers did not believe this “Greed Myth.” Rather, Smith argued that capitalism, unlike static economies, channels even greedy motives into socially beneficial outcomes. “In spite of their natural selfishness and rapacity,” Smith wrote, business people “are led by an invisible hand…and thus without intending it, without knowing it, advance the interest of the society.”3

Rather than inspire miserliness, capitalism encourages enterprise. Entrepreneurs, including greedy ones, succeed by delaying their own gratification, by investing their wealth in creative but risky ventures that may or may not pan out. Before they ever profit, they must first create.

In a fallen world, we should want an economic system that not only channels greed into productive purposes, but unleashes human ingenuity, creativity, and willingness to risk as well.

I think Christians who don’t understand economics really need to make the effort to understand the basics. I recommend Robert Murphy’s “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism” and Thomas Sowell’s “Basic Economics“. If you want to see how economics works together with Christianity, then you also want Jay Richards “Money, Greed and God” and Wayne Grudem’s “Politics According to the Bible“.

How do job creators perceive Obama’s anti-business policies?

Here’s an interview with Bernie Marcus, the co-founder of Home Depot, from Investors Business Daily.

Intro:

Bernie Marcus co-founded Home Depot (HD) in 1978 and brought it public in 1981 as the U.S. was suffering from the worst recession and unemployment in 40 years. The company thrived, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and redefining home improvement retailing.

But Marcus says Home Depot “would never have succeeded” if it launched today due to onerous regulation. He recently helped launch the Job Creators Alliance, a Dallas-based nonprofit of CEOs and entrepreneurs dedicated to preserving the free enterprise system. IBD recently spoke to him about jobs and the economy.

Excerpt:

IBD: What’s the single biggest impediment to job growth today?

Marcus: The U.S. government. Having built a small business into a big one, I can tell you that today the impediments that the government imposes are impossible to deal with. Home Depot would never have succeeded if we’d tried to start it today. Every day you see rules and regulations from a group of Washington bureaucrats who know nothing about running a business. And I mean every day. It’s become stifling.

If you’re a small businessman, the only way to deal with it is to work harder, put in more hours, and let people go. When you consider that something like 70% of the American people work for small businesses, you are talking about a big economic impact.

IBD: President Obama has promised to streamline and eliminate regulations. What’s your take?

Marcus: His speeches are wonderful. His output is absolutely, incredibly bad. As he speaks about cutting out regulations, they are now producing thousands of pages of new ones. With just ObamaCare by itself, you have a 2,000 page bill that’s probably going end up being 150,000 pages of regulations.

IBD: If you could sit down with Obama and talk to him about job creation, what would you say?

Marcus: I’m not sure Obama would understand anything that I’d say, because he’s never really worked a day outside the political or legal area. He doesn’t know how to make a payroll, he doesn’t understand the problems businesses face. I would try to explain that the plight of the busi nessman is very reactive to Washington. As Washington piles on regulations and mandates, the impact is tremendous. I don’t think he’s a bad guy. I just think he has no knowledge of this.

And Bernie is not the only one – we saw the recent rant from a Democrat CEO named Steve Wynn.

Excerpt:

And I’m saying it bluntly, that this administration is the greatest wet blanket to business, and progress and job creation in my lifetime. And I can prove it and I could spend the next 3 hours giving you examples of all of us in this market place that are frightened to death about all the new regulations, our healthcare costs escalate, regulations coming from left and right. A President that seems, that keeps using that word redistribution. Well, my customers and the companies that provide the vitality for the hospitality and restaurant industry, in the United States of America, they are frightened of this administration.And it makes you slow down and not invest your money. Everybody complains about how much money is on the side in America.

You bet and until we change the tempo and the conversation from Washington, it’s not going to change. And those of us who have business opportunities and the capital to do it are going to sit in fear of the President. And a lot of people don’t want to say that. They’ll say, God, don’t be attacking Obama. Well, this is Obama’s deal and it’s Obama that’s responsible for this fear in America.

The guy keeps making speeches about redistribution and maybe we ought to do something to businesses that don’t invest, their holding too much money. We haven’t heard that kind of talk except from pure socialists. Everybody’s afraid of the government and there’s no need soft peddling it, it’s the truth. It is the truth.

But there are many more CEOs saying the same thing.

Excerpt:

Wynn’s remarks echo those on a lengthening list of CEOs including:

  • 3M’s George Buckley, who blasted Obama last February as anti-business. “We know what his instincts are,” Buckley said. “We’ve got a real choice between manufacturing in Canada or Mexico — which tends to be more pro-business — and America,” he told the Financial Times.
  • Boeing’s Jim McNerney, who in the Wall Street Journal last May called Obama’s handpicked National Labor Relations Board’s suit against his company a “fundamental assault on the capitalist principles that have sustained America’s competitiveness since it became the world’s largest economy nearly 140 years ago.”
  • Intel’s Paul Otellini, who told CNET last August that the U.S. legal environment has become so hostile to business that there is likely to be “an inevitable erosion and shift of wealth, much like we’re seeing today in Europe — this is the bitter truth.”
  • Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, who observed to radio host Hugh Hewitt last month that Obama “never had to make payroll,” that “nobody has ever created a job in this administration” and that the president is “surrounded by college professors.”
  • GE’s Jeffrey Immelt, one of Obama’s biggest supporters, who hit out at the president last year. “Business did not like the U.S. president and the president did not like business,” the FT reported him saying. “People are in a really bad mood. We have to become an industrial powerhouse again, but you don’t do this when government and entrepreneurs are not in sync.”
  • Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, another Obama backer, who blasted Obama’s bank tax in January 2010 as a “guilt tax,” once called Obama’s carbon tax idea “regressive” and this month denounced Obama’s obsession with corporate jets.

These aren’t the only ones. CEOs of battered oil companies like Chevron and Exxon Mobil, media companies like Fox News and Forbes, and business groups like the Chamber of Commerce have also spoken out. When the creators of jobs and wealth are saying the same thing, isn’t it time for the White House to listen up?

When will the American people realize that you can’t support tax increases for the rich, and then be surprised when they just stop hiring – or worse they outsource jobs to more business-friendly countries. Obama’s anti-business economic policies cause outsourcing. The only reason for job creators to take a risk by trying to expand their businesses is because they might be able to make a profit. Take away their profit, and there is no reason for them to hire anyone. The profit motive is what creates jobs. Obama is attacking the profit motive, and that’s why no one is hiring. Anyone who understands economics understands that.

And it’s not just Obama’s anti-business rhetoric that is to blame for the high unemployment rate. It’s higher regulation of job creators and job-killing leftist boondoggles like Obamacare.

Britain’s National Health Service pays millions to gag whistleblowers

Story here from the UK Independent. (H/T Legal Insurrection via ECM)

Excerpt:

NHS whistleblowers are routinely gagged in order to cover up dangerous and even dishonest practices that could attract bad publicity and damage a hospital’s reputation.

Some local NHS bodies are spending millions of taxpayers’ money to pay off and silence whistleblowers with “super gags” to stop them going public with patient safety incidents. Experts warn that patients’ lives are being endangered by the use of intimidatory tactics to force out whistleblowers and deter other professionals from coming forward.

The IoS has learnt of children in Stoke-on-Trent needlessly losing organs after safety issues highlighted by a senior surgeon – who was suspended after coming forward to voice concerns – were ignored. In one of more than 20 serious incidents, a newborn baby girl needed an ovary removed after a standard procedure to remove a cyst was delayed because of staff shortages.

According to Public Concern at Work (PCaW), two-thirds of doctors, nurses and other careworkers are accepting non-disclosure clauses built into severance agreements, in order to avoid years of suspension, financial ruin, incriminations and distress before a case reaches court. The details of these claims, including allegations of dangerous practice, dishonesty and misconduct, are never disclosed to the public.

The problem with government-run health care is simple. They take your money through income taxes, and they promise that later on, when you are sick, they will give you treatment. But because you have paid them up front, when the time comes to be treated you have lost your leverage to get the treatment. None of the people providing you with health care have any incentive to treat you – you’ve already paid them! No one’s salary or bonus is riding on providing you with what you want! Provision of care is often rationed so that those who voted for the party in power are served first.

Contrast government-run health care with a free market system. In a free market, sellers of health care services and medical devices compete to earn your money by giving you the highest quality for the lowest price. You have the power over these competing sellers because you have the money in your hand – no one took it from you before you needed to use it. You can always go to a competitor if you don’t like what’s being provided to you for your money, unlike government-run systems. The consumer can choose what they want by comparing prices and patient outcomes across vendors.