It seems to me, we can argue all day long whether a zebra’s stripes are black, or white, but at the end of the day we still haven’t answered whether a zebra is an equine or not. In the same way, progressives and free market proponents argue about whether profit is good or bad, but that misses the point, in reality everyone seeks profit, both the capitalist and the socialist, the real question is, whether profit should come from providing value to your fellow man or at his cost? Those who contend that profit is good, know their’s is a weak argument weighed on it’s inherent merit, so to change the subject is a way to seize a moral high ground they have no right to, and keep their real position from being known, let alone discussed on it’s merits. So we fight and wrestle, vilifying each other over such weighty questions as, “are a zebra’s stripes white or black?”
Progressives claim the market system is based on profit, and profit is greed, and greed is bad. Therefore, they further contest, the market system is bad. Both Marxists and capitalists seek profits however. Socialists seek profits as much as capitalists. The socialist however, as opposed to a capitalist, seeks profits for nothing. What do you think the public dole is? The dole is nothing more than a profit to the recipient. The dole however, is not based on providing for your fellow man or woman, it is based on one’s existence. If the dole is a form of profit, and we see that it so obviously is, they are condemned by their own argument, progressivism, socialism and communism are based on greed… and are therefore bad. But that is arguing on progressive’s terms.
The real question is, is it more just to get a profit for providing value or not? The socialist side stands that it is unjust to “force” people to provide value to another for profit. They contend it is more just if we provide profit to others free of charge. This is what we should be discussing, not whether profit itself is good or bad, that is as I have shown merely a diversion. To answer that question we must first answer what is justice. The modern interpretation, since the Enlightenment is… equal treatment. Even a child innately knows justice and demonstrate it when they say, “It’s not fair!” The justice of a child is not equal justice however, because a child lacks the ability to be objective, that is a learned trait. That is exactly the root of socialism however, the demand of a petulant dependent incompetent child, to get one’s needs met.
The free market’s means for getting profit is to meet a need of someone else. Providing value in and of itself, is a good of the first and second order. A good can be broken into two types, a good we do for it’s own sake; (the first order), and a good we do because it staves off a bad; (the second order). Brushing your teeth is a good of the second order in that we don’t do it for itself we do it to stave off tooth decay. Skiing is a good of the first order, for those who love to ski, since it is a good we do for itself. Providing value for profit is both types of good. That providing value for one’s profit is a good of the first order is embodied in the old saying… “Choose a job you love and you will never work a day.” Regardless of the value as career advice, that saying is true in that many people love their jobs and cannot see themselves doing anything else.
Providing value for profit is also a good of the second order, since the innate requirement to meet someone else needs to get one’s own bread incentivizes positive behavior as, courtesy, perspective, humility, sympathy and equal treatment. At it’s most basic level, the ancient tradition of the merchant, a merchant has to be able to see things from another’s perspective to provide what the customer wants and needs, she has to be courteous else risk the loss of sales and profit, he must be humble lest his supplier or customer go somewhere else, sympathy is a natural outcome of the ability to see from another’s perspective, and every incentive for a salesperson is to treat everyone equally, to maximize profits. As we can see, providing value is a good of both types.
Socialism on the other hand is not a good of either the first order nor the second. Human nature is not egalitarian, self sacrificing, or accepting of one’s “place.” Those attribute go against the demands of evolution. A species that self sacrifices is soon eliminated from the biosphere, eschewing saving up food is a sure path to starvation during times of want, and if not for the drive to get ahead of one’s competition one falls behind in that competition, in the case of a species, that species goes extinct. Human nature itself is damning of socialism. To be a good of the first order socialism would spontaneously happen, as did skiing, due to it’s being a good of the first order, as the free market has. That it has only happened under extreme pressure from the state, shows socialism is not a good we would do for it’s own sake.
Getting profit for nothing also falls far short of a good of the second order. Getting profit for nothing incentivizes people to be rude, uncaring, egoistic, and discriminating. The best historical reference for someone who gets profit for nothing is the aristocracy of feudal cultures. The aristocrat could be as rude to the peasants as he or she wanted, they had no comprehension of the life of the masses, aristocracy is nothing if not egoistic, their profit was inherent to their existence. Moreover, at court, those with political favor were above the law, while those without were below it’s protections, because that enhanced the aristocracy’s profit. These same attributes are created by incentive in those who receive the dole. Not to argue everyone who receives profit for nothing is bad, as it is the case that not everyone who provides value is good. The incentives however over time impel either good attributes in people or bad ones, the more the bad ones the easier it is follow the crowd and adopt bad behaviors.
Taken on their own ground, that profit is bad, socialism condemns itself in it’s own words, moreover, when we consider the real argument between free market advocates and socialism’s adherents, which is more just… to get profit for nothing or for providing value, the answer becomes obvious. Providing value for others is a good of both the first and second order. The market forces equal treatment by the ever present threat of bankruptcy, plus, as a good of the second order it incentivizes people, over time, to treat each other equally, which both meet the fundamental definition of justice. Meanwhile, socialism is not a good of either type, creating conditions for unequal treatment of people along with a host of negative behaviors, showing socialism to be unjust. That socialist have obtained the moral high ground and advanced their position as far as they have, is because we have been accepting their premise and contending on their ground, arguing to the head of a pin, what color zebra stripes are, to answer the question of is that zebra an equine or not.