This Short Film Explains Why Businesses Should Maximize Value Over Profit

“Businesses get so wrapped up in minimizing expenses and maximizing profits that they can neglect the human side of economics.”


Aspiring documentary filmmaker Taylor Erickson has a theory: If businesses put the interests of their customers over short-term profits, they’ll be more successful in the long run, and society will be better off for it.

“When I was thinking about the economy, that was the first thing that came to my head,” says Erickson, 20. It’s the message at the center of his latest short film, titled “The Greatest Economics Lesson.” It recently won the grand prize in a video contest run by Econ4, a group of professors and consultants in search of a more equitable approach to economics.

In the film, Erickson recalls a time when his friend, a property investor, stopped trying to maximize profits from his properties and began to treat his tenants as partners, taking extra care to improve their houses. The result? His friend’s tenants were more satisfied with their situation, and they stayed longer and took better care of the homes—and he still made money.

“The thing that gets in the way is greed,” Erickson says in the video. “Businesses get so wrapped up in minimizing expenses and maximizing profits that they can neglect the human side of economics…Prioritize value, and you can absolutely still make money. On top of that, you’ll be making your world better by adding value to it.”

Erickson, who works at HOPE Worldwide, a faith-based community service nonprofit in Cleveland, says the lesson extends beyond the macroeconomy. The decisions parents make in spending their money, for instance, affect the wants and needs of the entire family.

And Erickson isn’t done offering lessons. For the last two months, he has channeled his interest in how society works into an attempt to make sense of how political candidates approach the prevailing issues of the election season. In a way, he says, he’s trying to spread “societal literacy,” to take a concept that’s unfamiliar and make it easy to understand. He’s working on a short film on food insecurity and hunger in northeast Ohio.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.