... our concept of "profit" needs to expand beyond mere money. ....Profit must include responsibility for and well-being of all our citizens, our culture, and our planet, and not just more gold bars in the strong room.This week we have two sterling examples of the problem with profit = money definition.
Item 1: The young CEO of an upstart drug firm has purchased an old drug, Daraprim, that is used to treat parasitic infections in HIV patients. It costs about $1 per pill to manufacture and sold for $13.50. But the former hedge manager has upped the price to $750 a pill overnight, calling a journalist who asked him why, a "moron". (Washington Post)
Item 2: Under pressure from the EPA, Volkswagen has admitted that it cheated by programming its diesel cars to run differently when being screened for emissions. Basically, under regular driving conditions, they emit 10-40x more pollutants than they are supposed to.
“It’s a new level of cynicism in the auto industry,” said Jack R. Nerad, executive market analyst at Kelley Blue Book. “We have seen honest mistakes and lapses of judgment before, and tragic things happening, but this strikes me as different. The intent from the beginning seemed to be to evade standard norms.” (NY Times)As a third, anecdotal example: I was driving in the Bay Area this week and noticed the pending installation of "express lanes" on I-580 not for carpools, but for those willing to pay tolls. People with money can afford to buy their way into faster traffic. And of course, the Bay Area abounds with people with money, so that the culture even in formerly countercultural cities like Berkeley has noticeably changed. Money money money.
Cynicism? You bet. As long as we let Wall Street stock exchange prices drive our concept of profit, as long as we let money be the end-all and be-all, we will continue this slither into the horrors of the gilded age.