Most businessmen today try to make as much money as they can, and try to have it end up on their bottom line. Should there even be an ethical question about earning a profit? Is there really such a thing as a “fair” profit? The problem is that what seems fair to a manufacturer may not seem fair to the ultimate consumer. What constitutes profit is really what competition makes it. Long ago, the government prohibited monopolies. But, sometimes when a company comes out with a product that becomes popular, they can charge whatever they can get away with. Only when someone creates a similar competitive product will prices come down. The Corvette costs a lot. So does the Z-car. But, when others began making similar sports car models, some of the prices came down. The ethics of profits are the fundamentals of business. If you’re first, rake it in because someone will compete and make you earn less profit eventually.

Profit is a return on the work you do or the investment you make. Banks make a profit when they lend you money. Stockholders are supposed to share in a company’s profits when they buy stock in the company. Employees should share in how well the company does and how much profit they make. Should there be a “profit limit”? Only the ultimate customer decides that. If the price is too high, they stop buying. If the product doesn’t work, or is defective, they won’t pay for it. Demand assures profit.

I interviewed a man who calls himself “King” of large-screen television, and who advertises that people can save thousands of dollars. How can he earn a profit? “Nobody sells at full price in this business,” he said. “Manufacturers set artificially high prices, and we honestly never sell at those prices. What’s more, we make profit through large volume. We also provide good service, so word of mouth brings in more customers. I have yet to lose money on a single TV set I sold.”

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