This is a posting in praise of profits.
Profits have, rather oddly, gotten a bad rap. One reason for this is because they are misunderstood.
Profit is what is left over after you've paid the factors their due. Labor gets wages. Capital gets interest. Resources are purchased. What is left over after various inputs are paid is profit. Profit is the difference between the market value of the output and the market value of the inputs.
In an ideal world, the inputs of labor, capital, and resources would be minimal and the outputs of products and services would be maximized. You'd only have to work about 4 hours, buy a guitar for $500 (your capital), rent a studio for an hour, and create millions in value, collecting royalities for decades. In an ideal world. The beautiful thing about profits is that it signals that you've created more value than was there when you started. You've orchestrated inputs like resources, capital, and labor into lots of value.
Every community ought to have the goal of maximizing profits. If you can create a million dollars worth of value with thousands of dollars of input, you're creating quality of life with minimal impact on people's personal time and scarce resources. Among other things, minimal input suggests little environmental impact. If a community could create value without using any labor or resources, why wouldn't it?
One other reason that profits have gotten a bad rap is because they have been associated with capital and returns to an elite few. But we've made our largest companies public - literally spread their ownership across the public. And the really smart companies have made their employees owners - sharing ownership through outright grants of stock and stock options.
Historically, ownership has been very concentrated. Even today, "the typical big company distributes 75 percent of its stock options to only its top five executives." Because of this, the average person has tended to see profits as something that come at the expense of the little guy, something that simply make the rich richer. But this is not an indictment of profits. This is an indictment of how profits are shared.
One reason to popularize entrepreneurship is to transform the role of employee from a wage earner to someone who shares profit. Profits are a great thing. Hoarding profits into the pockets of a half dozen executives is not.
We need to change our values and expectations. We need to show more appreciation for profits, need to see them more as something of great economic value. And we need to change our expectations of how profits in publicly held companies are shared. Corporate profits are going to continue to increase. We need to make sure that this increase is widely felt.