Saturday, December 17, 2005

Profit: Its Social Motivation and Function

I found this site in a roundabout way via this page over at Liberated Space.

I tooled around a little bit, and aside from an essay making a valid criticism of the turgid and pleonastic prose of Joseph Schumpeter, this essay, described by the author as "a brief treatise on this commonly referenced and highly sought subject of economics," particularly caught my eye, if only because being against profit has always seemed to me to imply that you then must be for losses. Am I making a bit of a logical fallacy, there? Constructing a bit of a strawman? Granted. The point serves, however, to illuminate the narrow way in which the far left always tries to define profit as synonymous with exploitation. This is, in fact, what Punkerslut attempts to do at the outset:

Profit serves primarily as an economic idea. If a merchant were to purchase a single loaf of bread for one dollar and to sell it for two dollars, that would be a single dollar of profit, or what many economists would call a 100% profit return. What does money translate to for the merchant? It translates specifically to privilege: the right to possess and consume products and services, which would otherwise be unreachable, had the merchant sold his labor, instead of selling commodities.
Now, my first complaint of the above quote is that it is simply a string of non-sequiturs. What does each sentence have to do with the previous - outside the broadest sense, that they are all somewhat concerned with the subject of "profit"? You can see, though, the foggy outlines of the basic Marxist notion that profit is exploitation of the "laboring class" (the only "class" that creates value - the Proletariat) by the "merchant class" (the parasitic "class" that produces nothing - Capitalists).

But is the laboring class really the only class that creates value? Why is profit restricted to the Capitalist class? Can't a laborer value his wages more than the labor he has exchanged - thereby "profiting" from the transaction?

Reading Punkerslut's essay just makes me sad.

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