Originally Posted by ethereal
I'm wondering how you guys feel about choosing between what's best for society and what's best for you when making business decisions, i.e. to profit maximize or to perhaps discount your products and allow society/consumers who previously couldn't afford to buy them to benefit.
I have to agree with the previous responses. You should charge as much money for your products and services as people are willing to pay for them. If someone can't afford to buy from you then that's a problem for them not you. Think about it this way -- the people who can afford expensive things have usually provided a great deal of value to society in order to create their wealth.
For instance if someone can afford a BMW then they deserve it, because they created equivalent value for someone else. Should BMW lower their prices so that more people can afford their cars? If they were to do that, they'd also have to lower their standards and quality. This would eventually make them spiral into making cheap but crappy cars. You can't make something be really cheap and at the same time really good.
Another good example is Apple. They make very expensive but also very high end computers. Their hardware is always top of the line and they also make their own operating system, which allows them to tune it to work perfectly with their hardware. Many people can't afford a Mac, but those who can are able to obtain something unique that's not available from any other company. And again, if Apple had to lower their prices they wouldn't be able to afford doing what they do now and would become just like every other computer manufacturer.
One last thing I wanted to mention is that maximizing profits typically doesn't mean charging more money, but rather spending more time on sales and marketing. These two things will typically play a much greater role in how much money your business brings in, unless you're charging a lot less than you should be for what you're selling.