The Profiteers: How Business Privatizes Profits and Socializes Costs

The Profiteers: How Business Privatizes Profits and Socializes Costs

by Christopher Marquis

Narrated by Simon Vance, Christopher Marquis

Unabridged — 9 hours, 29 minutes

The Profiteers: How Business Privatizes Profits and Socializes Costs

The Profiteers: How Business Privatizes Profits and Socializes Costs

by Christopher Marquis

Narrated by Simon Vance, Christopher Marquis

Unabridged — 9 hours, 29 minutes

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An exposé*of how society pays for corporations' "free lunch" and the cost of environmental damage, low wages, systemic discrimination, and cheap goods.

In an age when business leaders solemnly profess dedication to principles of environmental and social justice, Christopher Marquis's provocative investigation into the real costs of doing business reveals the way that leaders of the corporate world gaslight to evade responsibilities by privatizing profits and socializing costs. “Who pays?” for the resulting climate and environmental damage, racism, low wages, and cheap goods: the average citizen and the taxpayer.

By bringing to light ideas that today are on the fringe but rapidly making their way into the mainstream, Marquis outlines a new regenerative paradigm for business in society. He tells of a group of pioneers trying to not just reform but transform the way business is conducted all over the world. By taking novel actions to reimagine business operations in responsible ways, minimize their negative impacts, and create new ways for business to properly absorb their hidden costs, these leaders provide blueprints to move the needle on vexing social and environmental issues.

What's in it for leaders of the corporate world? The model of reform presented provides clear guidance on how to get ahead of the curve as an emerging economic order is formed. No business can lead from the front if it is morally-backward looking. History has shown time and again that those who get out in front of emerging changes in our social and environmental landscape protect themselves from inevitable eclipse.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly


Big business is “exploiting the public commons while convincing us that repair is our individual responsibility,” according to this impassioned exposé. Marquis (Mao and Markets), a professor at the Cambridge University Judge School of Business, points out that Amazon relies on public roads to deliver its packages, yet paid only 6% in federal corporate income taxes in 2021 despite record profits. Walmart, in turn, pays some employees so poorly that they qualify for food stamps, shifting the responsibility for supporting workers to government benefit systems. Examining how businesses shirk blame for environmental pollution, Marquis contends that plastic recycling allows companies to continue manufacturing wasteful single-use items while placing the onus for proper disposal on consumers, even though most plastic labeled as recyclable can’t be reused and gets sent from recycling facilities to landfills. Marquis enrages readers with his accounts of corporate chicanery, but he injects some hope by highlighting individuals and organizations working to change flawed economic incentives. For instance, he discusses how in 2020 entrepreneur Eric Ries launched the Long-Term Stock Exchange, which seeks to curb the reckless pursuit of short-term profits by requiring listed companies to “measure success in years and decades.” The result is a galvanizing call to rein in corporate malfeasance. Agent: Jane von Mehren, Aevitas Creative Management. (May)

From the Publisher

Powerful, passionate, and persuasive. Christopher Marquis argues that business is both a principal cause of our current troubles and perhaps the most important cure. Drawing on fresh examples, he demonstrates both how business has profited from destroying the natural world and the structure of our societies, and how business leaders—working in concert with investors and other key stakeholders—can be powerful agents of change.”
 —Rebecca Henderson, McArthur University Professor, Harvard University

“A profound call to action for businesses to take responsibility for their environmental and social footprints. The Profiteers shows us that a better business model isn’t just possible, it’s imperative.”
 —Paul Hawken, cofounder, Smith & Hawken, and author of Regeneration

 “Timely and full of sharp insight on the devastating impacts of business as we’ve known it—a critical read for anyone who wants to understand how the deep design of business itself can and must be transformed.”
 —Kate Raworth, author of Doughnut Economics

“Marquis has delivered a brilliant critique of today’s dangerous corporate practice that dumps social and environmental costs onto society in search for ever greater profits. TheProfiteers is a wake-up call to businesses everywhere to reevaluate these shameful practices.”
 —Jeffrey Hollender, cofounder, Seventh Generation

“At a time of great division, The Profiteers underscores that there is no partisan divide on the idea that business should make money the right way, by treating their workers, communities, consumers, and the environment with respect, and that it’s unfair and wealth-destroying when companies profit at the expense of others. The Profiteers identifies practical ways all of us—as individuals and as a society—can forge a more sustainable and responsible capitalism.”
 —Leo E. Strine Jr., former chief justice and chancellor of Delaware

“A forceful argument for genuine business accountability.”
 —Kirkus Reviews

"[An] impassioned exposé... Marquis enrages readers with his accounts of corporate chicanery, but he injects some hope by highlighting individuals and organizations working to change flawed economic incentives... a galvanizing call to rein in corporate malfeasance."—Publishers Weekly

“Everyone must pull their weight to meet our responsibilities in these difficult times: government, civil society, and—the most nimble, resourceful, and culpable of the three—business. Chris Marquis in the Profiteers makes the case that making a living while doing the right thing is as good for business in the long run as it is for the larger society and the natural world.” —Vincent Stanley, director of philosophy at Patagonia and co-author of The Future of the Responsible Company

Kirkus Reviews

How profits can follow responsible business practices.

Business professor, lecturer, and Forbes columnist Marquis mounts a sharp critique of businesses that have hidden the negative social and environmental impacts of the ways they produce and deliver their products and services. “Behind a smoke screen of rhetoric about individual responsibility and personal choice,” writes the author, “corporations and their leaders ruthlessly pursue their own interests, shifting the blame for the harms they cause onto society at large.” These businesses typically use two strategies to deflect responsibility for environmental pollution, labor exploitation, and systemic discrimination: gaslighting, which presents “a false view of reality with the aim of convincing the ‘victim’ (i.e. us) that they are responsible for a wrong that the gaslighter committed,” and greenwashing, whereby companies publicize an ecologically sound image—a new logo or advertising slogan—“while continuing to operate in the same dirty way they always have.” Marquis points out, for example, the “big lie” told by the Plastics Industry Association about recycling: Most plastics are not recyclable, instead ending up in landfills. In presenting practical ideas for reform, Marquis sees a growing movement from “a linear ‘take, make, waste’ orientation to one where virtuous cycles drive positive change.” Among many companies working to eliminate pollution and reduce their carbon footprints are the shoe manufacturer Allbirds, furniture superstore IKEA, personal care enterprise Dr. Bronner’s, household cleaning supply company Seventh Generation, and clothing manufacturer Patagonia. The establishment of benefit corporations and B-corporate certification has spread internationally as a result of shareholder activism and corporate collaboration. In addition to programs for recycling and reuse, many companies are actively promoting reduced consumption. “Doing well by doing good,” Marquis reveals, “is an easy pill for the public to swallow, and companies know this.”

A forceful argument for genuine business accountability.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940159236708
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Publication date: 05/14/2024
Edition description: Unabridged
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