Where does profit come from?
Systemic Disorder | 04.25.2012
The work of employees, who are paid only a fraction of the value that they produce, is the source of profits for capitalists. Those astronomical salaries and bonuses enjoyed by executives and speculators come on the backs of the company’s employees.
The question “Where does profit come from?” initially seems as if it has an easy answer, but on closer inspection is a matter of considerable controversy. Ordinarily, we are given simple answers such as “buy low, sell high” or, that favorite fallback position, “the magic of the market.” Standard answers such as these rest on a presumption that circulation of a commodity is the source of profit.
But the value of a commodity would be the same if the workers sold the commodity themselves, thereby retaining the full value of what they produced rather than having much of it taken by the capitalist. The portion taken by the capitalist therefore is the source of the capitalist’s profit and not the circulation of the commodity.
Surplus value is the difference between the value of what an employee produces and what the employee is paid — the surplus value is converted into the owner’s profit.
Why shouldn’t the people who do the work earn the rewards? Why should bosses, shareholders and speculators accumulate so much at the expense of so many? Why should those who dedicate their lives to accumulating so much be anointed the guardians of morality and ethics when their ability to acquire money does not make them experts at anything other than greed?
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