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Debate: Profit-driven society

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Is a profit-driven society ideal, or should we move away from it?

Background and context

Nowadays, our society is greatly concerned with financial profit. However, people are also losing track with reality and forget that there are other important things in our lives, aren't they?

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Environment: Does a profit-driven society help the environment?

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Pro

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Con

  • Environment and economy is not a zero-sum game. As companies and individuals are concerned about their current financial profit, they are effectively harming our environment. And contrary to economy, the environment can hardly be restored. We are exacerbating our natural resources, we are reluctant to fight global warming, and these decisions are driven by the care for profit. This clearly is unsustainable and wrong.


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Freedom: Is the drive for profit beneficial, or are we its victims?

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Pro

  • Working is usually very social. While there are jobs which are lonely, most of the professions today includes great deal of social interaction, so the notion that working (for profit) reduces social life is fallacious. As a matter of fact, working requires cooperation between people, so it is one of the (if not the) most social activities ever.


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Con

  • Social life is more important than money. What we are constantly forgetting is the fact that living in poverty is difficult, but living in a rush for possessions is not only exhausting, but also quite complicated. Modern people fall prey to their own dreams, ambitions and visions about higher wages while ignoring that they effectively enslave themselves as they are forgetting what the really important values are.
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Economics: Does the "invisible hand" solve everything?

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Pro

  • Arbitrage. Arbitrage, the process of buying goods on one market and reselling them on another in the pursue of personal profit, greatly benefits everybody concerned as it stabilizes prices and helps to reach market equilibrium. It - in essence -transfers goods from places with surpluses to places with shortages, which brings prices to an equal level.


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Con

  • Negative externalities. Consideration of one's personal benefit may lead to negative externalities and thus to overconsumption, as people quite often fail to realize all of the repercussions of their behavior. (E.g. A dog owner will "weigh the price of the dogs, their food, their health care, etc., against the joy he receives from owning them" [Princeton Review: Cracking the AP Economics Macro and Micro Exams, 2010 Edition], but at the same time he will not consider the costs imposed on his neighbors (barking, biting, droppings). This means that the owner will buy the number of dogs that would suit him, although the optimal quantity for the society is lower.)
  • Positive externalities. If a person consumes less than the optimal quantity for society, we talk about positive externalities. (E.g. When people decide whether or not to get a flu shot, they do not take into consideration the benefits to others of not getting the flu from an unimmunized person.) [Princeton Review: Cracking the AP Economics Macro and Micro Exams, 2010 Edition]

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