You can’t beat a sociopath when it comes to business.
Sociopathy is an informal term that refers to a pattern of antisocial behavior and attitudes. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), sociopathy is most closely represented by Antisocial Personality Disorder.
You can try to purge the sociopaths, but without them you’ll always end up with a morally bankrupt society, a fragile market economy, higher prices and sluggish growth.
Prices in capitalist market economies are not set by the value of labor. They’re set solely by demand, which is driven mainly by scarcity.
Jealous economists lie to you about Say’s Law. Supply is downstream from demand. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerburg are wizards of precognition. They can “feel” demand in their brains because they’re genetically modified reptiles.
Scarcity allows business to reinvest surplus and innovate, bringing prices down over time to reach a larger audience at higher price elasticities of demand, but not too early. Without sufficient competition, prices stay high. Yet, high prices serve as a signal that there exist opportunities for disruption and long-run wealth creation.
Capitalism seems to be driven by sociopaths, who are actually a necessary part of improving the lives of the greatest number of people. The only time a sociopath can be stopped from building a monopoly is when they are called out and challenged.
They move on price, not emotion, so you can always count on them to extract wealth from the general population in a constant cycle of innovation and stock buy backs until a new champion enters the arena.
Sociopaths set standards; they construct the price ceilings from which all competition derives.
No sociopaths. No standards.
Sociopaths don’t seem to have that evolutionary tick that tells them “You’re profiting so much, what about the rest of your supply chain? If they knew how much you were making, they’d be angry with you.” They don’t apply the Effort heuristic. They value value, not effort.
Caring about your supply chain (and how hard they work) beyond the price they sell you their inputs of production is a mental handicap.
The Capitalist sociopath shrugs and correctly points out how much more miserable 99% of people (consumers) would be without them. For example, if I don’t sell my extra virgin olive oil at $65 per bottle then nobody in America gets real Croatian olive oil. Simple as that. And then perhaps nobody would ever be motivated to unseat me.
Sociopaths doesn’t wince when they realize that they’ve captured 90% of the profit margin of the entire supply chain for their product.
Some clothes are made for a few dollars, and sold for thousands a piece. Do producers give most of that money back to their suppliers, or as future savings to consumers? Not often. But they will buy more widgets to supply you more gizmos when demand increases.
Bringing traditional product to market is costly. Bringing innovative new product to market vastly more so. But it’s more than just expensive. It requires mastery of story-telling, and luck. And most people have access to neither. People always underestimate the value of sales and marketing and overestimate the value of engineering.
Ultimately, if there are no substitutes for the product you want, you can’t get lower prices by merely appealing to a business person’s “empathy”. You can’t just write them a letter to ask for a perpetual discount 10% discount for you and your friends. Word gets out out, people complain, CEO ends up in tabloid (it happens anyway), and everybody suffers.
Without high stakes, incentives to maintain product quality largely evaporate.
We strive for a world in which business leaders are both empathetic AND market savvy.
But life doesn’t work that way. Recent demand for corporate social responsibility merely increased demand for CEOs with mad acting skillz. Market always wins.
Communists gave empathy a shot. But they sucked ass and killed a lot of people trying to prove a moot point. Democratic Socialists are now trying to do the same. If they succeed, many people will suffer.
By forcing empathy on people, you end up creating a paradox in which you produce far more sociopathy than is evolutionarily stable for a dynamic environment. You end up creating an “empathy hierarchy” in which you realize that in order to deliver the greatest amount of empathy, you have to selectively re-evolve the vast majority of the more productive portion of society, either by firing squad or by induced pharmacological gradients of complacency and bliss.
You only want a small percentage of your population to be producers, and you want those producers to modify their behavior only under the framework of market competition, not by staring down barrel of famous Soviet PPSh-41 General purpose Helical submachine gun with 71-round drum and 35-round magazine.
At the end of the day, you can only get a scarce good at a lower price by attempting to bring that same product to market yourself. Or by waiting for somebody else to do so.
Definitely not by diktat.
That’s why ruthless, quasi-sociopathic market competition is the highest possible moral virtue ever known to humankind.
So long as business people are not subsidized for their losses, and possess skin in the game (they absorb their own externalities when they fuck up), then relatively high levels of sociopathy amongst producers constitute a market boon rather than deficiency.