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Published 2 years ago with 6 Comments

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  • RoamingGnome (edited 2 years ago)
    +3

    Really? And what happens when the shareholders demand more profit? The quality of materials will be reduced to save money and drive more profits. Then they will buy cheaper food. Then they will want to maximize payloads beyond design specs. Then people will die. Then Umbrella Corp. will tell government that they can't continue without subsidies. Then taxpayers will be footing the bill yet again, but the bill will be far bigger because we will have to cover the money for profits. Privatization is pretty much never the correct answer; especially for something of this scale. Profits should not be a factor in this type of endeavor.

    • spaceghoti
      +2

      There are times when a profit motive helps drive innovation and research better than straight government funding. Primarily when there's a specific goal in mind like making the best use of finite resources. The Internet is an example of private industry taking off and developing applications that were outside the scope of the government's investigations. The government laid the groundwork for private industry to build on.

      What you describe are genuine concerns that we need to watch out for. Businesses will try to cut corners with safety and health in the name of profit, which is why regulation and oversight are critical to safeguard human interests. There's room for both.

      • RoamingGnome
        +3

        I agree that there are certain things that private industry can and should do. Building roads is a good example. Government should finance roads, but have private companies build them. But the difference is that is a finite job with a goal and an end. Something ongoing, like space exploration, healthcare, jails, etc. need to be handled by government because of the profit factor. Once a project goes from construction to maintenance mode, corporations can not make acceptable profits without gouging. It's just the nature of the beast.

        • spaceghoti
          +1

          It seems to me that corporations were doing just fine at maintenance until we started repealing regulations in the 80s. Eventually we're going to need to look at the mineral resources available in the solar system (and hopefully beyond) to meet our needs for growth, and of course explore the possibilities of industry in microgravity environments. The way to get businesses up in orbit to start gathering those resources and building those industries is to give them a stake in it.

          Capitalism is easily abused, I agree. But capitalism leashed by regulation can be a powerful tool. That's why the most stable economies I know of combine the wealth-generating power of capitalism with regulation and redistribution by government.

          • RoamingGnome
            +3

            I agree. The drive for a better life, which is bought with money, which is provided by profits, is what makes entrepreneurs be entrepreneurs. I fully support the idea that having a great product or service, along with a sound business plan, should make the creator wealthy. I then think they should pay taxes commensurate with their burden on infrastructure and the environment. My issue is with the insane demand for growth quarter-over-quarter. It is not sustainable and it causes companies to cheapen themselves in the name of more profits.

            • spaceghoti
              +2

              That kind of mindset is enabled by our low-tax no-regulation style of government. When our highest nominal tax rate was above 70% businesses responded not by pulling out but by playing the long game, reinvesting their profits instead of focusing on quarterly returns. Income disparity was much narrower while research and development were given a higher priority. But so long as we enable large returns in the short term, that kind of business thinking isn't going to come back.

              We know how to fix this. We just lack the political will to make it happen.

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