Time Essay: Profits: How Much Is Too Little?

Profit is today a fighting word. Profits are the life blood of the economic system, the magic elixir upon which progress and all good things ultimately depend. But one man's lifeblood is another man's cancer.

—Economist Paul A. Samuelson

And so it is. Profits are called by many names these days, many of them bad. Obscene, exorbitant, excessive are the leading pejoratives. By contrast, nonprofit has gained an altruistic, almost hallowed connotation. Psychologically, that prejudice may be understandable, but economically it makes no sense. Profits can, of course, be immoral—if they are exploitative,...

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