Thu, 19 Aug 2004

Profit 2

Earlier I mused about some people's reaction to profit. I noted that profit didn't have the qualities that they imputed to it. I guessed that they were actually objecting to something else, which I called "orange" (so as not to prejudice myself or anyone else as to its nature). Bob Johnson suggested that orange==passivity, noting that the harder someone sweats for their money, the more acceptable are their profits.

I think Bob is quite right here. The quintessential honest job is that of a farmer, and you know that farmers put their backs into their jobs. The next most honest job is a steelworker, another sweaty job. A more "orange", or passive, job is secretary. Secretaries rarely get sweaty; if they do, they're probably doing their job wrong. Still, the pay isn't very good, so the lack of sweat can be forgiven. Still more "orange" is the job of college professor. The perception is that they only have to come in to the office a few hours a week, teach a class or two or three, and rake in the bucks. All those perceptions are wrong, but the perception of passivity is there.

Even more passive is an insurance company. Their profits are assumed to come with no work. More passive yet is the job of landlord, particularly a landlord who doesn't reinvest money in repairs (but if those repairs won't result in more or retained income, why spend money on repairs?) The most passive is someone who merely invests in a company. Of course, if you invest passively, you get some pretty passive profits. While there's condemnation of investors when they're making money, there's little sympathy when an investor loses money.

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