Responding to the idea that private companies should be involved in delivery of health services or employment programmes, it is not unusual to hear people – not just trades unionists but politicians, commentators, civic representatives – say that “We should not be giving people money to make a profit”.
Reacting even to Derry’s Leah Totton winning the BBC’s Apprentice series, many suggested they didn’t like her – essentially because she was ambitious to make money.
What a laughable, unreal attitude!
From kids selling sweets at a 1p profit to people seeking out new ways to get benefits to people running a cosmetics firm with a turnover in the millions, everyone is ambitious to make money. It isn’t everyone’s or even most people’s main driver, but it is there in each and every one of us. And on balance it is a good thing – ambition, including for money, is what delivers new inventions, delivers improved services, delivers better products.
Why on earth would people in Northern Ireland not want to be part of that?
In fact, they do. But unfortunately many of them – like Leah Totton or indeed established businesspeople like Nicky Kinnaird before her – have to emigrate. When they emigrate, they rarely go to poorer places where it is harder to make money – the usual destinations are London (the richest and biggest city in the EU), Australia (riding high on the back of a commodity boom), the United States (with its ‘Dream’), or perhaps somewhere like Geneva (a hugely prosperous place). As discussed before, these (or at least the prosperous parts of them) are diverse places which promote that diversity (promoting immigration, legislating for gay marriage, and so on) – but they are also united by not fearing profit and not detesting those who admit they want to make money (the way, frankly, we all do).
Leah Totton admitted she likes to look good and admitted she wants to make millions. Good luck to her. Back at home we need more like her, not fewer.