Skillnaden mellan vinst och välstånd
Ibland händer det att man läser något extra insiktsfullt – något som man önskar att man själv hade tänkt och skrivit ned. Det hände mig i morse och jag läste det i en privat mailinglista där några av IT-världens skarpaste hjärnor utbyter tankar. Det är skrivet av Laura Creighton, som jag råkar ha en nära personlig relation till. Det var därför inte svårt att få hennes tillstånd att posta inlägget på min blogg. Jag gör det utan vidare kommentarer.
The problem is that capitalism has evolved out of being the best way humanity has come up with for managing scarce resources. But this has fundamentally affected the way business majors see scarcity. Since profitability is to be found in controlling and exploiting that scarcity, scarcity is, paradoxically, a good thing.
Capitalism is still struggling with the notion of abundance. Anything digital can now be produced, if it can be produced at all, in what is effectively a limitless supply. There may be no such things as a free lunch but the price of digital dinners has dropped to the point where it’s no longer worthwhile to measure the cost. What has come unstuck is the historical relationship between wealth and profits – Wikipedia, for instance, has clearly increased the amount of wealth in the world without being profitable.
This is a real problem for business majors, who are taught to maximize profitability, not wealth – even though they usually confuse the two and think that what they are maximizing is wealth. It’s not the creation of wealth they are interested in, but the creation of wealth which is then unequally distributed, with themselves on the have lots side. Moreover, these days, the wealth creation part can all be done by somebody else – once the wealth is created the business majors can make sure they fiddle with it’s distribution so that they profit.
This means that sustainability is, pretty much by defintion something they actively do not want. Once you have made something sustainable, there is no scarcity driven profits left in the thing. Provided you have done your job properly, the thing just chugs along spitting out wealth but not the unequal distributions. There is simply not enough profit in running a utility – unless you can start manufacturing scarcities to drive up prices – Enron.