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This classic animated short – originally titled as 'Going Places' – is a Cold War-era propaganda film about the American entrepreneurial spirit. It was produced in 1948 by John Sutherland and sponsored by the Harding College. It is one of the "fun and facts about American business" series.
The cartoon attempts to defend and promote the principles of capitalism against other economic philosophies, especially Marxism. It defines the profit motive and dramatizes the part it has played in the economic development of America. It tells the story of how progress is achieved through hard work, research, competition, and fair trade. It has a rose-colored view of capitalism, where industrial development is always an improvement over what existed before, where savvy consumers are impossible to cheat, where profitable businesses always share the wealth with their employees, and where the free market always quickly thwarts any monopolistic attempts. Although this cartoon is a good example of capitalist propaganda which fails to explore or explain the downsides of capitalism, it readily admits that for capitalism to work, economy must continue to grow.
The cartoon stars Freddie Fudsie, a lazy soap maker who just wants to go fishing. He invents bar soap, makes some money, and is about to retire in peace and quiet when the "Profit Motive," in the form of a beautiful young woman, captures his attention. Freddie, who suddenly needs more money to win her affection, never sees a fishing hole again. But that's okay, because "the profit motive has been the driving force behind the growth of American industry" and "will make a better life for the children of tomorrow." In order to raise the standard of living for his new wife and kids, Freddie uses his invention of bar soap to continue to grow his wealth. He step by step grows up to be the CEO of Fudso Soap, Inc., a thriving giant corporation, and learns about competition, monopoly and the evils of price fixing.
BACKGROUND / CONTEXT
In the late 1940s and early 1950s America, millions of theatergoers, students, and industrial workers saw one or more animated short films, shot in Technicolor and running eight to nine minutes, that were designed to build public support for the principles and practices of free enterprise. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation quietly funded the production of this series of cartoons, titled Fun and Facts about American Business, through multiple grants to industrial animation house John Sutherland Productions via Harding College, an evangelical college in rural Arkansas that would become known nationally for its anti-communist and conservative political activism. (The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation was established in 1934 by Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., then-President and Chief Executive Officer of General Motors.)
In economics, the profit motive is the motivation of firms that operate so as to maximize their profits. Mainstream microeconomic theory posits that the ultimate goal of a business is to make money. Stated differently, the reason for a business’s existence is to turn a profit. The profit motive is a key tenet of rational choice theory, or the theory that economic agents tend to pursue what is in their own best interests. Accordingly, businesses seek to benefit themselves and/or their shareholders by maximizing profits.
Theoretically, when an economy is fully competitive (i.e. has no market imperfections like externalities, monopolies, information or power imbalances etc.), the profit motive ensures that resources are being allocated efficiently. In other words, profits let companies know whether an item is worth producing. However, the market itself, should minimize profits as it is a cost to the value chain. Competition is the key tool by which markets overcome the individual firm's profit maximization incentive. The profit motive is a good of value to the economy. It is needed to provide incentive to generate efficiency and innovation.
The majority of criticisms against the profit motive center on the idea that profits should not supersede the needs of people. Another common criticism of the profit motive is that it is believed to encourage selfishness and greed. Critics of the profit motive contend that companies disregard morals or public safety in the pursuit of profits.
For more information about profit motive, see:
The Profit Motive: Going Places | Pro-Capitalism Propaganda Cartoon | 1948
NOTE: THIS VIDEO REPRESENTS HISTORY. THE VIDEO HAS BEEN UPLOADED WITH EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES. ITS TOPIC IS REPRESENTED WITHIN CONTEXT.