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The Forum > General Discussion > No Such Thing as Profit

No Such Thing as Profit

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There's no such thing as profit because when a profit is "made", e.g. .coal is pulled out of the ground and sold, the earth is poorer by that much coal, or the community is poorer: some collective entity, from which the profit is sourced, is poorer. It's karma, or Newtonian physics. A sustainable economic system would not use profit as a way of creating wealth (which it does, short term) but aim at a permanent system which neither grows nor declines. This might require a much smaller world population.
Posted by clem gorman, Friday, 4 January 2013 12:09:33 PM
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CG, I disagree, as there is profit from the likes of mining, which then provides a means to invest which in turn turns a profit.

Of cause you are right to say the community wherebthe coal was extracted is poorer, however, one could also suggest that if not for the coal, mining towns would not prosper, makimg profits for many, both locals and outsiders.
Posted by rehctub, Saturday, 5 January 2013 5:00:06 PM
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I agree one hundred percent, Clem Gprman. This is one of the most sensible posts I've read for ages. Long-term, permanent profit for human individuals and corporations is a concept that's destroying the planet. Always when one species upsets the balance of natural give and take, they die out. The grab for profits has already resulted in the loss of most of the world's topsoils, the degradation of land, waterways, air and seas. The extinction of thousands of species, the change of climate that will destroy us all.
Profit is a chimera. You can't take out more from a system than you put back in. We are putting the profit into more humans, not back into the environment that sustains us. It is this irrational thinking that has set all governments on the path of demanding continuous "growth". Of expanding economies. But this comes at the cost of shrinking everything else, especially quality and diversity of life. We live in a closed, self-supporting system of life that is finite. It cannot expand, it can only change. And change will alter the environment in which we evolved, leaving us stranded in an alien, unliveable place... something that is becoming increasingly apparent for the unblinkered few who care.
Posted by ybgirp, Monday, 7 January 2013 8:01:51 AM
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Altogether very weird.

>>The grab for profits has already resulted in the loss of most of the world's topsoils, the degradation of land, waterways, air and seas.<<

It is all very well wringing hands and saying "woe is us", but we didn't get where we are today without exploiting the profit motive for all it is worth.

Think of one civilization, if you can, that has survived without indulging in some form of mutual exchange that profits both parties.

Or indeed, try to name one activity that we undertake today in Australia that would benefit from being removed from the world of profit and loss?

I await a response with more than my usual level of interest.
Posted by Pericles, Monday, 7 January 2013 12:13:42 PM
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Pericles, Iím not wringing my hands and complaining, merely pointing out the cost of expecting to profit permanently from the land and the environment. You are confusing this with mutually beneficial barter, in which one man profits from anotherís expertise. Clem's post clearly mentions unsustainable profit extracted from the planet, using and consuming but not replenishing.
As for civilisations, "The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been two hundred years.
These nations have progressed through this sequence:
From bondage to spiritual faith;
from spiritual faith to great courage;
from courage to liberty;
from liberty to abundance;
from abundance to selfishness;
from selfishness to complacency;
from complacency to apathy;
from apathy to dependence;
from dependency back again into bondage."
Sir Alex Fraser Tytler -† (1742-1813)
OK, so itís not directly related to profit, but Iíve been waiting to insert it somewhere for a while.
Of course we all benefit from the profit motive - me included, Iím living on the profits of corporations that are destroying nature. But the consequences are graver now that the human population is unsustainable. If we want to go on living beyond our means and destroying the environment in the process, then at least we're aware of the price. I reckon Iíve got fifteen years max before I kark it, so Iíll probably miss out on the really bad bitsóalthough this drought in SEQ where I live is the worst in living memory and shows no sign of breakingóbut itís been predicted so Iím not surprisedónot even surprised that no one wants to do anything about it. Humans arenít like that.
Posted by ybgirp, Monday, 7 January 2013 12:40:45 PM
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I don't think so, ybgirp.

>>You are confusing this with mutually beneficial barter, in which one man profits from anotherís expertise.<<

I am certain that human ingenuity will in the near future enable energy to be harnessed and used without the need to deplete the earth's crust. And that by the time the global population reaches equilibrium around the middle of this century, we will have mastered the technology that allows us to recycle what we have already produced, also without the need to further exhaust natural resources.

So the "mutually beneficial barter" that you describe can equally be applied to the exchange between the earth and ourselves.

Everyone knows that perpetual growth is not possible. But it is a little early to cry "woe, woe", given that the earth's capacity to give is far from exhausted.

Unless of course, you make the assumption that humans have reached the limit of their intelligence and ingenuity, and that no further progress is possible.

If you are in that camp, I should remind you of the statement US Patent Office Commissioner Ellsworth made in his 1843 report:

"The advancement of the arts, from year to year, taxes our credulity, and seems to presage the arrival of that period when human improvement must end."

While the idea that we might solve both energy and resource problems in the near future might "tax your credulity", consider this:

When Mr Ellsworth wrote his report, even the humble light bulb had not been invented. In the following sixty years, the world gave us, inter alia, the telephone, phonograph, wind turbine, internal combustion engine, seismograph, toilet paper, the fountain pen, machine gun, radar, the pneumatic tyre, AC motor, movies, the vacuum cleaner, radio, aeroplane and... the Theory of Relativity.

Plus, the vacuum flask.

Which Paddy famously described as the most incredible invention of them all. When asked why, he said "Well, it keeps hot t'ings hot and cold t'ings cold"

"What's so great about that, Paddy?"

"Tell me den, how does is know which is which...?"
Posted by Pericles, Monday, 7 January 2013 2:10:10 PM
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