We still teach a lot of myths in the intro to economics course, myths that spill over to conventional wisdom. Human beings make rational decisions in our considered long-term best interest. Actually, behavioral economics shows us that people almost never do this. Our decision-making systems are unpredictable, buggy and often wrong. We are easily distracted, and even more easily conned. Every time we assume that people are profit-seeking, independent, rational actors, we've made a mistake. The free market is free. The free market only works because it has boundaries, rules and methods of enforcement. Profit is a good way to demonstrate the creation of value. In fact, it's a pretty lousy method. Profit is often a measure of short-term imbalances or pricing power, not value. I hope we can agree that a caring nurse in the pediatric oncology ward adds more value than a well-paid cosmetic plastic surgeon doing augmentations. The best way to measure value created is to measure value, not profit.
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