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Do human beings need profit?

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12 Comments so far ↓

  • Erin Blaskie

    Techno-pagan FTW.

    I am shedding this idea of materialism myself so I agree with you. I think we need enough profit to survive but not excessive profit.

    You my friend AJ Pape. Are intelligent, thought-provoking and present exciting ideas to think about.

    Keep on keepin’ on.

    Erin B.

  • ajpape

    Erin thanks.

    I like what you say about “enough to survive but not excessive.”

    There’s a distinction my friend Lynn Twist makes between “abundance” (having tons of something) versus “sufficiency” (having and experiencing ‘enough-ness’).

    Thanks for being one my inspirers!

  • Rax Lakhani

    Hi AJ

    Good to see you’ve mastered the ‘Art of the YouTube video’!

    Great question and one which made me pause to think about my own situation.

    I’ve given consultancy on a number of occasions to ‘social enterprises’ in the past. These businesses are social mission driven organisations which trade in goods or services for a social purpose. Profit is still important in these companies but not the overiding factor in the organisation’s raison d’etre.

    This got me thinking… on a philosophical point, does profit always have to be economic? If we take the general definition of profit to be the increased wealth obtained from an initial investment, then perhaps we can start to evaluate ‘investment’ in non monetary terms…

    So you could invest time and energy into a project and end up with more time as a result. So if i spend three hours time planning a document, I may in fact gain an extra hour in productivity.

    Does that make sense?

    I spent some time a few years ago volunteering as a Samaritan (the UK’s leading ‘suicide’ hotline). I did so for what I thought at the time to be fairly altruistic reasons (wanting to help others, give back to society, etc). However what I quickly learnt was that by spending time with volunteers and by getting to understand the issues that made people phone up and bear their souls to a complete stranger, I ended up getting a lot more back than I put in. There was a clear ‘profit’ in what was a originally a voluntary act. To put it simply: I got MORE out of the experience than I probably put in.

    However in these situations, profit is a by-product; a BONUS, if you like. But inn being so, is much more rewarding. Is there an economic model in this?


  • » Blog Archive » links for 2009-07-14

    […] Do human beings need profit? @ajpape asks the big question… What do you think? (tags: profit) […]

  • ajpape

    Matt – thanks for checking it out, glad to see you here.

    Rax – I like your examples of social benefit, personal reward, and productivity gain. I used to think of word “margins” a lot. E.g. am I leaving myself lots of time, health, energy, trust, money in the way I conduct my affairs, or am I running low on any of those because of my choices.

    Your comment makes me want to be back in London, but maybe we can host a webinar for folks on some of this soon or do a Skype call.

    Thanks again!

  • Gibbo

    Very timely question. Bill Maher just posted a very funny essay on just this:

  • Claudia

    First of all – good on you for asking these BIG questions at this particular time in our culture. Kudos on still being eloquent and provocative.

    Here’s my thinking: human beings need to be able to survive – we need all those things in that hierarchy of needs: at the basic level – food shelter clothes – in the west, that means we need money so we need work – we also need love and that self-actualization thing at the top of the hierarchy – was this Abraham Maslow? can’t remember. So…in a contemporary western society, people need to be able to provide for basic needs and that means making money.

    But Profit? Making more than you spend? In my view that is not intrinsic to survival whatsoever. I mean we need those business types to keep everything going and good for those money motivated folks – but we can’t expect them to strive for justice or be self-regulating. Their role is to make money. On the other hand, we can’t expect people who strive to achieve justice to make profit. I don’t think society needs the people who impose the law to be making coffers of cash. As a prosecutor, I shouldn’t make more money for convictions than acquittals, for example. Society doesn’t want prosecutors, police or judges getting rich off the justice system. When you think about why that would be wrong, I think it proves that profit, as in material gain, can’t be necessary for everyone, though we need some of those folks to keep us all going. I personally blame lack of regulation for the failure of big business and big banks…

  • Valerie

    A.J., you provocateur! Perhaps we have migrated so far as a species from our true nature that these questions you ask have no short answers. But I’ll give one, nonetheless.

    We do not need profit. It is not a biological urge or coded in our DNA. We do need, crave really, the feeling of safety. Perhaps long ago that feeling was supplied by a trust in Nature (many names work here) to always provide for our needs, along with a small but sufficient stockpile of whatever allowed us to make it through the winter.

    There are so many other factors to complicate the equation now. Most of us, at least those of us gathered here via technology, live our lives much removed from the cycles of nature and the concept that our sustenance comes from the Earth. I mean, we know it, but we don’t “get” it. Most of us have also shifted the locus of abundance beyond our immediate control and into some form of corporation. Unease ensues and we try to gather more of the harvest, just in case.

    Add to all that, most people don’t know who they are or what they are capable of and this keeps them in an ongoing status of feeling unsafe and craving, craving, craving…. Cash on hand is an obvious target for attempting to fill that craving.

    Dx for corporate greed that leads to loathsome practices: teach the leadership their true human nature and the craving stops.

    Yours in technopaganism!

  • Mike McCarthy

    AJ’s Q’s is, “Does human beings need “Profit”?
    Let us break it down folks.

    Need = something that IS required or lack of something that IS required.

    Profit = advantage, gain, the sum that remains after deducting costs.

    So based on our common meaning of those words, my answer is a NO, NO and NO, again.

    In a broad general sense, (which helped us to evolve to this point, making it possible to use man-made products to communicate to people thought-out the entire world, we, as individuals, will more than likely NEVER physical meet, but now have an infinite connect with via the I-net ect), a human being NEEDS just a few things, food, shelter and a believe that they are safe from predators. Cut and Dry.

    To continue to “survive” human beings, like every other living item in this universe, NEEDS to “Grow”. Without growth comes a “withering on the vine”, which leads to demise and lack of life.

    So again to answer the Q posed by AJ in my humble thoughts, is NO.

    It is “things”, devised by human beings, such as commerce, that NEED profit to GROW, not human beings.

    Oh, by the way AJ, I can “Help improve your visual environment” for you next pod-cast. E-mail me , if you would like me to offer some advice on how to make it happen. I have 13 years experience, and a few Daytime Emmys, in live television programing.

    All the best, to each and everyone, who is now joined together infinity, by AJ’s Q.

  • Daniel Hazen

    I found this interesting discussion because I was doing an internet search about the concept of profit in the context of an individual human being: isn’t any income over and above what is required by or closely related to the costs associated with producing that income “profit”? Individuals have basic food, medical and shelter needs to survive; transportation needs to get back and forth to work; basic uniform, clothing or equipment needs (most equipment is supplied by most employers for most people however); education or training expenses to qualify for and keep the job, etc. Any income over and above those related to the job (and which is not plowed back into job performance or enhancement), I would consider “profit”: all of the money we spend on eating out, entertainment, most electronic gadgets (other than basic work-related communications needs), etc.

    I think it can be argued that certain things (artistic, intellectual, emotional, familial, fraternal, recreational, etc.) over and above bare survival needs are necessary due to our status as sentient beings.

    Is anyone aware of any data on this question?



  • Felipe Toro

    Dear AJ
    We talked earlier today on the lab and i found your blog… It is really interesting about future considerations … I would like to learn more and explore concrete cooperations.

    With respect to your video…yesterday having a coffee in the centre of at karlsruhe and a bike coffee maker…we ended talking about the source of problems…
    Perhaps no profit is not so important… I challenge you… Can we live in a world without money?
    Does human beings need money?

    I hope this is a start for an interesting consideration!
    Best regards! Saludos

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