Friday, 13 December 2013

For-profit social work?

I saw a TED talk saying that the best way to tackle poverty and other global social problems may be to get for-profit businesses involved. If there's a profit there, said the speaker, that motivates business to succeed and also means the solution will scale, because the more you do, the more profit there is, and that is a big carrot to business.

My objection is that "profit" is not some magical wealth created out of nowhere. Wealth is zero-sum. There's no such thing as making money, only taking money. So if your business is working on global poverty and making a profit as a result, where is that money coming from? If it's just you and a poor country's economy involved, then that wealth is coming out of a poor country and into the pockets of a rich company.

That is the exact opposite of solving the problem, and it is the only way that I can see for turning a profit from social justice projects to work. The only other thing they have to give is time and work, and that quickly turns into sweatshops.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Which is the time an ethical business will withdraw.
PPS - Here's the talk, if you're interested.

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