Package Deals: "Profiteering"
May 25, 2020
The function of the package deal is to combine into a unified concept things that are essentially different, and that function is made possible only when a nonessential characteristic is employed to define the concept.”
Peter Schwartz, Integration by Essentials
In this series of Meetups we examine how certain package deals have gained such widespread acceptance, so as to alter the meaning of the concepts in most people’s minds, a fact that is reflected in public discourse. This week, we will deal with the concept of ‘profiteering’.
According to the Cambridge dictionary, profiteering means ‘the act of taking advantage of a situation in order to make a profit, usually by charging high prices for things people need’. It is a term that comes back to fashion in every crisis, in order to shame, or even to suggest legal action, against traders who ‘unfairly’ charge a higher price to products that are under a very high demand. Recently, we have seen the rise in the price of masks and sanitizers being declared as ‘profiteering’, and in many countries deemed illegal. Is the slamming of profiteering by its critics linked to a disdain for the morality of profit as such? Are there activities that should indeed be named and shamed as profiteering, and how should one react against them?
Andrew Bernstein is a philosopher and novelist. He is the author of several books, including The Capitalist Manifesto, Capitalism Unbound, and the recently-published Heroes, Legends, Champions: Why Heroism Matters.
Robert Van Dortmond is a coach of student start-ups at the minor in Entrepreneurship at the University of Amsterdam/Centre for Entrepreneurship. He has 27 years experience working with Egon Zehnder International (leading global executive search firm, partnership), and as an executive coach and advisor on career and organisational development.