the P-word

Jeffrey Tucker’s great closing line the other day received appreciation and praise:

Yes, it is all about profits. Sorry socialists: this also means that it’s all about people.

It has me wanting to collect great lines about profits and misunderstandings of the profit motive.

Please nominate your favorites. Here’s one of mine:

If maximizing profits means that a man in all market transactions aims at increasing to the utmost the advantage derived, it is a pleonastic and periphrastic circumlocution. It only asserts what is implied in the very category of action. If it means anything else, it is the expression of an erroneous idea.

– Ludwig von Mises, Human Action, p. 243

OK, so you could claim that Tucker’s line is more accessible than Mises’s, but I find Mises’s line just as funny.

Postscript: I found this wonderful example of someone who is

  1. interested in language and
  2. not especially interested in economics

stumbling on Mises’s line and looking up ever word (and every word necessary to understand what she’d looked up in the first place) before concluding

So pleonastic and periphrastic circumlocution means something like redundant and abundant over using of words! Was the writer joking?

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4 Responses to the P-word

  1. Duane says:

    Profit is a measure of how under-paid the worker is.

  2. Anna says:

    Now that has to be a joke, right Duane?

  3. Duane says:

    Part joke, part observation. A for-profit enterprise needs some margin for investment and incentive for the risk takers but there comes a point at which the socialist maxim carries some sway.

  4. Profit is a measure of how much capitalists exploit their ambient society.

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