Monday, January 16, 2023

The Profit Motive is the Best

The profit motive is the best. The profit motive is the worst. Hear me out. It's a simple argument. And it's important.

The profit motive is the best incentive to giving people what they want. Television quickly turned into the boob tube. And eventually into Fox News. The Internet quickly turned into porn. Even before it turned into Facebook, which can be almost as much a cesspool as is porn. And the American oil and gas industry turned into a pipeline to deliver enough cheap fossil fuel to warm the planet beyond its tipping point. Because it's what people want.

The profit motive is the worst at giving Americans what they need. They need a solution to global warming. "Last summer was the hottest on record for Europe...The past eight years were the eight warmest on record for planet." But there's more money to be made selling oil and gas than solving global warming, so that's what the free market provides. And it buys advertising pushing its own propaganda surveys to convince the market that it's giving them what they want.

But what do we need? Fusion power, for one.

Very recently, scientists (finally) created more energy from a fusion reaction than it took to create it. Despite that exciting news, when will fusion energy be cost-effective? That's still a decade away. It's been a decade away for decades. Why? It's because we're not serious about investing in it. The US invests $700 million/year on fusion research. Sounds like a lot. But compare that to the current $4.1 billion cost of a single SLS/Orion moon rocket launch. Then tell me which investment we're serious about. Fusion energy is considered to be a money pit. For now, it's all investment, no profit. And so we don't invest in it. The profit motive is a lousy way to deliver to society what society needs.


J. Casey Hurley said...

This is an excellent way to put it--makes so much sense.
Casey Hurley

S. said...

A recent read that illuminates this is Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America: A Recent History by Kurt Anderson. It traces a shift in corporate thinking towards maximum profit as the sole goal. This history begins in the 60s and early 70s with some academic opinion pieces that morphed into academic programs and think tanks funded by a few wealthy businessmen that then worked its way into mainstream thinking. With this foundation this philosophy was embraced by some powerful in legislative, judicial and executive positions and supported with legislation and judicial rulings.

(Steve Benson)