Profit is the engine of production
Restraining profit by taxing it or limiting it has the effect of limiting production. Restraining profit means an economy will produce fewer goods, of less variety, and at higher price. Innovation suffers. As a result, to the extent profits are restrained, all consumers suffer. Profit drives production in several ways:
Profit is the incentive for production
The profit motive is the supreme motivator of productive business activity. The creativity of scientists, the entrepreneurship of businessmen, and the resourcefulness of financiers are all motivated, in whole or part, by the pursuit of profits.
Profit provides the means of production
Profits and savings are the ultimate source of the investment capital (money) that finances construction of factories, research laboratories, distribution centers, ships, warehouses, and all of the equipment that is used to invent, produce and distribute the goods that we consume. To restrict profits is to deny a source of capital necessary for production.
Profit directs capital to the production of goods most urgently wanted
The highest profits are earned by the businessmen who can supply the goods most wanted by customers. iPods, portable generators after a hurricane, personal computers, fashionable clothes, and all of the goods consumers want most, are made by those who make the greatest profits. The profitability of an enterprise is the ultimate measuring stick of how well it has satisfied its customers. A money losing business is either making products consumers do not want or charging too much for them.
Profits result in everyone’s gain
Profits do not come from the net loss of anyone. On the contrary, profit results from the creation of goods that people voluntarily buy in the marketplace. A businessman who makes a huge profit makes things that are good enough that many people want them and willingly buy them from him.
Profit is property
Profits are the property of the shareholders and other investor/owners of the business. Restricting or taxing profits is not just impractical, but is theft.
Honest profits are an essential feature of capitalism
A profit honestly earned in a capitalist society is beneficial and good for all. Profits must be distinguished from the money a businessman might get because of special governmental favors, such as tariffs, regulations or subsidies. These interventions are contrary to capitalism and allow some businessmen to gain at other people’s expense. Their gain is not profits, but a form of theft.
First appeared on The One Minute Case.
Raymond C. Niles
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