What are the negative consequences of valuing private profitability over social need?

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People who hold to the ideas of communitarianism would say that there are many problems that come of valuing private profitability.  Some of them include:

  • Pollution.  As we value profitability, we allow companies to do things that create problems for the environment.  We do this because we worry more about allowing the companies to make profit than we do about the consequences for the environment.
  • Crime.  When we value profitability, we tend to allow a great deal of economic inequality.  This leads to a situation in which we do not do enough to help the poor get out of poverty.  Their economic needs and their psychological frustrations help lead to higher rates of crime.
  • General breakdown of social ties.  When we value profits, we encourage people to stop caring about one another.  We encourage people to think of other people more as assets or as tools rather than as human beings.  This leads to a situation in which we are willing to simply use others for our own good instead of caring about them.

Overall, communitarians would argue, valuing profit over social needs makes for a greedy society in which people come to care little about things like the environment or other people because they care only about making money.

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In short, a society that privileges private profit over social needs may fail to meet these social needs. For example, in an effort to keep taxes low in order to maximize business profits, a government might cut back on basic social programs. All government welfare programs, in addition to other services like education, depend on tax revenue to function. Additionally, many occupational safety requirements could be dropped in the interest of profitability. Some business leaders argue that environmental regulations hurt businesses and should therefore be eliminated, despite the obvious potential cost to society.

On the other hand, if government enacts programs or raises taxes in the name of the social good, it can result in reduced profits for businesses, which can result in workers losing their jobs. So governments must strike a delicate balance between stimulating business and pursuing the social good.

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