A lot of times, I am trapped in the middle of this rather common argument about businesses and how they make money. If I morph myself into different personalities, customer and the businessman, I see the problems that each of them possess. Customers always want the best service at the lowest cost. Businesses want the maximum profit at the lowest cost (to them). Usually, I lean towards the customer portion and criticize the business folks for being a little too greedy. But then, it occured to me that both the consumer end and business end is not that different afterall. Both of them want to maximize profit. The customer wants to do so by giving the least price and the business person does it the other way. So, what is there to crib about?
One of the easy ways that I chose to analyse the business aspect was to assume myself to be in such a position. I work for a company. I dont demand any less money than what I could get from other companies. Whenever I employ someone to do a job, I not only find the cheapest labor with the best quality, but, I also make sure that he/she does the job efficiently and effectively. I dont give them time to check emails or write blogs..;).. When I head out to sell stuff on ebay or craigslist, I dont just give away stuff. I try to position myself based on the competitors and accept nothing but the best price. In general, it would be fair to assume that, when money is made, people want to maximize it in all possibilities that they can. If one doesnt and they dont have a compelling reason to back it up, it is equivalent to consider that they are incurring an oppurtunity cost and hence losing money. Why would anybody do that?
All the good things said, the critical view of the subject will paint a different picture. When situations like 9/11 or major catastrophies happen, if a store in that area increases its price to benefit based on that situation, is it right to do so? Ethically, it will be a strong NO. But then, if you look at bigger corporates, like all the energy and natural gas companies, they do just that. It doesnt have an emotional song to go with that, showing how a middle class person has to cut down his day to day expenditures to incorporate the increased energy cost. The corporates know for a fact that, a hike in the gas price for a shorter time is not going to change the way people consume energy. Another thing to look at is the compensation paid to CEOs and other higher officials. CEOs of companies get atleast 100 times more benefits than employees. Is that ethical? The list of dubious ethics questions could go on and on which will bring us to the rather difficult question of what is “fair” in the context of business? This question is difficult to me since it also conflicts with the very same ideals that I follow when I have to wear a business hat. In the fabric of life, is it just another thing that we have to live with, being controversial to one’s own ideals under different conditions?