Saturday, October 03, 2009
Profit and Cheeeezies
My daughter and I had a chat a couple of days ago and one of the things she said made me think about how I interact with money. She said left-wing people ( she knows I lean to the left) often see 'profit' as a bad thing. I can't speak for others on the left, but I know businesses need to make money and since my daughter and her husband run a business, I certainly hope that it will be successful enough to make a profit.
I think small businesses, such as the one my son-in-law and daughter run are often far more ethical then public corporations. First of all, treating your employees well by paying a reasonable wage and offering what benefits you can afford is the right thing to do. It also makes good business sense to participate in your community and be a good business citizen. "Doing it right' will not necessarily generate a quick profit, or any profit at all, in the beginning - aye, there's the rub. But, I believe that over the long haul a good business reputation is worth a lot.
"Soulless corporations" used to be a left-wing expression. I haven't heard it much lately though it still has value. Why? A publicly owned corporation has only one purpose and that is to make money for its shareholders. People who own shares had grown accustomed to getting larger and larger dividends, no matter what, so solid long-term investments that would provide a lower rate-of-return were scorned. Big fish swallowed little fish and were in turn swallowed by even bigger (and sometimes mythical ) fish, On and on it went, Then the market crashed and there was a lot of talk about regulations, but little if anything has been done to change things.
Greed, not profit, is the dirty word here.
How does all this apply to writing?Well, think of a best selling writer whose book is like a bag of Cheezies. You pay more for it than it's worth, perhaps because so many others are reading it and you want to be au courant. After you finish it, you're left with orange fingers, and maybe a stomach ache, but little or no substance. Then, the writer produces another Cheezie, because, after all, the first one did so well, he has already has the template and why not take the easy way out and reuse it. The product reaches the shelves quickly but maybe a third one doesn't sell as well as the first two.
However; there are the authors who write books that stay in your mind for years. Often, they don't sell that many books, but their readers are not disappointed, they are sustained, maybe even changed by what they have read.
I'd rather write something lasting than write a Cheezie and if my work should happen to make a profit, I'll happily accept my share.