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March 9, 2010, at 8:10 am — Blogs / / / /

A Lack of Ethics in Profit

When I was a kid, my dad taught me how to be money-minded: how to save money, how to make a profit… In primary school, we would have an annual entrepreneur’s day on which selected students could put up stalls and sell things. I always participated. I always thought up ways to manipulate my customers and make them pay twice the price for something that they didn’t even need. The prospect of making money excited me more than a sleepover or trip to see The Lion King did. By the age of 11, I had accumulated enough cash to purchase my own Hi-fi system.

The concept of profit in a capitalist society is essentially devoid of ethical considerations. There is one goal:  increase net profit; even if it involves attaching misnomers to your pitch or creating subterfuges. It is usually only the most vile that resort to such extremities; however, even in the simplest sell-and-buy transactions there occurs a certain amount of manipulation.

Manipulation may simply occur through misrepresentation of person or skill. In a recent encounter with a woman who claimed that her calling in life was to help people heal their broken heart (once they had bought a certain book that she had written), I asked her what her perspective was on free advice to people who could not afford her book. She smirked and replied saying that in assisting people who did not pay, she would be wasting time and neglecting the customers who did. There are also spiritual healers (sangomas), back-door abortionists and such (essentially charlatans) who offer overpriced solutions to the ignorant, desperate and impoverished. In South Africa, there was a case in which a practicing 16-year-old spiritual healer mixed something toxic and killed himself and his family (an approximate total of 16 people died).  Profit sucks out the soul of humanity: any help needed comes with a price tag; all price tags come with an included and invisible mark up (pure-hearted charity excluded).

Even the poor manipulate and make money off the poor. In certain clinics in South Africa, which are meant to aid the impoverished and provide medication to the sick, there are nurses who steal the government-provided medication and sell it instead of distributing it to the sick who approach the clinics for help. In old age homes, there are assistants who steal the belongings of the elderly to sell and make a profit. Orphanages are also robbed of their comforts with charity given toys and food being taken by the assistants for their own usage. Certain companies even use charity as a marketing gimmick – ‘for every (product) purchased, a percentage will be donated to (a random charity organisation)’.

In every finance-involved situation there is a capitalist salivating over the prospect of profit; be it a supposed act of goodwill or straight cut business deals. The most indigent are non-existent. Charity organizations and NGO’s can only do so much to assist them.

However, there also exist the genuinely good-hearted people who help out in times of need… free of charge. I like to think of such people as miniature land-bound gods; free of the capitalism shackles. As for me, I’m refining my entrepreneur skills in an attempt to profit of the rich – despite the soul-less nature of capitalism, everyone needs money. Myself included.


1 comment to A Lack of Ethics in Profit

  • Let me start by saying welcome to the Avocado Jungle – I am deeply honored that you are writing here and grateful. You are adding a perspective that is not only necessary but immensely helpful to furthering our understanding of each other and complex realities of a global life.

    I agree that profit can push reason to the side. I find it troubling that here in the United States people give to charity and receive a tax break in return – they gain profit from their contribution to the poor. This undermines the very act of giving charity. I wish folks would care more about the profit of the soul more than the profit of the pocketbook.

    Although – like you so eloquently put – everyone needs money.

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