The concept I am talking about today is called economic self-interest. Most think capitalists when they act in their self-interest are greedy and ruin the economy and the system. The fact is everyone in the economic system acts within their own economic self-interest. The owner of the coffee shop does not open to serve the community, but to serve themselves and their economic interest. Now don’t get me wrong the coffee shop owner does serve the community and if they are too greedy then the coffee shop will not succeed and the owners’ self-interest would not be satisfied. This is why greed is an aberration and only lasts for so long before it collapses. Owners can’t exist without their customers and customer frequent owners who benefit their economic self-interest as well. If one person is too greedy then there won’t be a mutual interest and both will suffer.
The concept of a self-interest is you operate to benefit yourself but while doing so operate in such a way you benefit those around you. For example, the coffee shop, offers local access to coffee and treats for local customers, who benefit because they get what they want and don’t have to travel so they are willing to purchase there at the right price. Another example, is as an employee you have developed your own set of skills. You share these skills for a price, economic benefit, to an employer. Your employer benefits from this sharing of your economic interest and they benefit as well. If the owner doesn’t pay enough for the skills you leave and he suffers thus there is a common set of interests.
The example that made me laugh was one not as obvious. In Austin, where I live, we’ve had some minor storms that have created icy roads and unsafe conditions. The school districts have to make split second decisions as to whether or not to cancel or delay school. Doing so affects their economic interest as they get paid for having students in the seats during required times. If they are closed they lose money. Parents have an economic self-interest in keeping their children safe and getting a good quality education to further their children’s economic benefit. These are mutually inclusive but also operate counter to each other. There is a third interest and that is of the parents furthering their own interests through their jobs. If their kids are not in school that interest is hampered. SO when schools did not close and there was an issue with a school bus sliding off the road and people were stuck at school the parents were upset claiming the schools acted in their on interest and not that of their children. A week later when there was a similar situation with possible storms and they closed but then there was no ice or bad conditions then parents got upset because the schools followed the self-interest of the children but ignored the parent’s interest. This is a no win situation for the district in the current model.
Another great example is what CVS has done. They decided to eliminate tobacco sales from their stores. This is a perfect example of economic self-interest working. They sell 2BB a year in tobacco products a year in North America, getting rid of it would seem to be counter to their economic benefit but instead it might be better. CVS is known as a health care company but yet they sell tobacco products known to destroy health, so they made a choice to eliminate that sale to better their economic self-interest by better serving the community.
How do you better your economic self-interest? What examples do you see?