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The Bottom Line — Profits

 

I remember watching a movie about a small business and its rise to “the top”. The CEO, a Donald Trump wanna-be, pounded his fist on the conference table, pointed to the chart behind him showing flat line growth and shouted, “It’s profit, the bottom line is profit!”

 

Let’s look at this statement. Are profits the bottom line? What are the benefits of profits? I suppose those getting them think they’re great — but whom do they benefit? Do they make the lives of those on the assembly line, toiling day in and day out more worthwhile? Do they aid those who buy the product or service? Or is their greatest boon given to those sitting behind desks all day, flexing their power?  

 

Let’s do a quick comparison.

 

In most companies, the profit goes to the Board of Directors (BOD), and then to the stock-holders. A definite minority. By doing little to no work, the group gets the majority of the assets created by the workers for the specified market.

 

Consider a malignant tumor or cancer. It too, does little work, taking from the host and feeding only itself, growing and fulfilling its own needs first.

 

If profit equals cancer, what can we do to stop the growth of the interloper?

 

How about:

- Profit-sharing. Instead of the BOD getting the money, give it as bonuses to those who manufacture the product or provide the service. The percentage to the employee can be determined by years of service, type of job done, hours worked, and other specifics.

 

- Put back into the business. Keep up with technology; maintain the equipment, working conditions, and employee benefits. (Don’t follow BP’s example.)

 

- Living wage. Make sure your employees are receiving a “living wage”. This means they have enough money to pay their debts and live comfortably while working for you.

 

- Give back to the community. Some local businesses give some of their profits to local social organizations, schools, and community groups.

 

- Act as a patron. Pick out a charity, or non-profit and give a monthly contribution.

 

Choose one or a combination, but stop feeding the tumor.

 

Making profits need not be evil or harmful. But the money garnered by a corporation, agency, or whatever, should be used in a way to provide the greatest benefits to society as a whole. Ostentatious wealth is neither a necessity for a happy, meaningful life, nor a requirement to prove “you’ve made it”. While a bit of luxury is nice, an overabundance of anything can stifle and cause harm. The harm usually isn’t physical; stunted emotional growth, mental anguish and indecision, as well as feelings of isolation are all possible results.   

 

Up until now, we’ve discussed profit as if it was made in an honest, up-front manner. That goods manufactured are of the highest quality, assembled in clean and humane conditions, and built with an eye to lasting for years (with an excellent warranty). That services rendered are the best available, given with sufficient guarantees, and have follow-up options.  

 

This sadly is not the case. Most manufactured items today are of inferior quality, have a short lifespan, and generally need constant repairs (if they have moving parts). Services provided often expire after the warranty or are not offered at all. A printer purchased for our computer was given a 2 year warranty, with no option to renew. After two years, the company considers it too expensive to repair the unit. They expect you to buy a new one.

 

So, is most profit garnered from low quality items sold for exorbitant prices that last for a short period of time? Is it fair for companies to rake in millions selling these inferior products and services?

 

Would the quality of products improve if those making them had a share in the profits? I think so. If we bring back “pride in our workmanship” I think quality will improve. If a salesperson working for a major department store got a percentage of the profits, would she try to sell more? If she knew the goods being sold were of the highest quality would she point this out to customers?  Again, I believe so.

 

There are a small number of companies in the U.S. today that are employee owned. Why don’t we hear more about them? Could it be corporate America doesn’t want the word to get out that those at the top may not be needed? If we cut out the majority of our top-heavy corporate structure, how much would the system improve? Are we willing to try?    

 

Or do we have our heads in the sand so deep we no longer see the sun? Opinions?

 

The litmus test:

Profit cannot exist without people.

 

But…

People can exist and thrive without profits.

  

Profits are not the bottom line.

 

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