I cannot agree with Schiff that Russell Brand is a smart guy but Schiff does also give us a sound account of profits here viz. as being the money left over when all the bills that a firm has to pay out, including wages, rent and interest on any funds borrowed, on a project has been paid, that I think is correct. Any loss on a project may mean that all those bills cannot be paid. Not only the entrepreneur has no pay whenever a loss is made but also there a risk that the workers, the landlords, and the capitalists or savers who lend out money will not be paid either so that even the firm needs to go out of business. It all depends on how big the losses are. Usually entrepreneurs will be also on an normal wage as a worker and so normally a firm can afford some losses but few could go a full normal year on projects that all make losses so the risk of any firm going under remains quite real, despite decades of past success.
But Brand has always looked utterly stupid to me in all that he says and does, such that his stupidity is hard for me to tolerate. I try to dodge him as all that he does, especially whenever he talks, tend to irritate me.
Schiff says he does not understand Brand when he says profit comes from losses elsewhere but it is, as Schiff then nevertheless rightly supposes, simply the old common sense idea that society, indeed reality itself, only ever allows a zero-sum gain, so the rich are only such as they got rich by making others poor. Most people tend to think that, if ever they think about it at all. But it is a tyro howler. It even assumes away any economy at all.
Profits usually do mean losses elsewhere but not ever as a transfer of wealth, as Brand might think [i.e. a theft of some sort], but rather a transfer of external customer patronage in competition. Losses come from customer, or public, neglect rather than from cheating of some sort. Profits come from sales of wares or services.
But then Schiff rightly says Brand may only mean that this zero sum arithmetic just must apply to all things. He says that Marx also endorsed this idea in his labour theory of value. Brand is no better than Marx, says Schiff. If ever he saw Jonathan Ross then Schiff might well, similarly, think he was no better than was Immanuel Kant!
He does say that Brand is a funny guy but I do not agree, unless he means funny in the non-comical funny park sense. As the late Bob Monkhouse said, both Brand and Ross are not new alternative comedy but rather a Politically Correct [PC] alternative to enjoying comedy. Stupid seems to me to be an apt thing to say about what Brand truly is, as it is what needs to be said about PC itself. .
But even Karl Popper expressed that mistake about the labour theory of value in his book on The World of Parmenides (1998) (p200). Sadly, Popper nearly always errs on political or economic things. He was more interested in the philosophy of science. However, it is a clear fact is that it is a positive sum economic theory, even if it is also clear that it is a false one. Marx did not think that exploitation was cheating in some way, though he did smile at the vulgar moralistic misunderstanding of his supposedly scientific economic theory and he always seemed to have loved that sort of ambiguity. Marx was not against economic exploitation but instead he was against the anarchy of the market. Marx held that planning would do way better than the market ever could,
Marx openly said that exploitation would be needed, even vital, in communism, to look after small children or the ill or the aged, to cite but three categories who will be unproductive in his supposed new society. Not that communism is truly an option. The economic calculation argument [eca] effectively refutes that idea. See From Marx To Mises (1992) D.R. Steele.
Surplus value is supposed by Marx to be extra output in relation to inputs, just as profit truly is whenever a project makes a profit, as Schiff makes clear in his account of profit, but Marx merely imagined surplus value as he also imagined, or assumed, labour power when all others rightly only assumed only mere labour itself. Labour power never had any existential import. So Marxian surplus value never did either. It always was null set, or false as an assumption. But profit is the sign of successful entrepreneurship, which always sets out to guess what other people want, so profit displays that the firms that reap it in from their successful projects have guessed right on those projects. Losses that any firm makes on a project show that there they guessed wrong. Profit flows from customer patronage but losses from customer neglect.
Schiff says that Brand is right on the vote but that is false too. Brand is right not to vote but not because it is not effective. If this proactive coercion were effective it would be even more immoral that it is nowadays to vote. It is more like giving others a gratuitous slight slap than a hard punch in the face, but it might be even worse than a punch if ever it was very effective. Liberals might one day use the vote to negate the negation, in using it to roll back the state by cutting taxes, for example, but to use it to increase taxation is immoral. That is what is wrong with democracy, that it is ineffective is a mercy to any functional society that uses it.