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War profiteer

From Academic Kids

A war profiteer is any person or organization that makes profits (rightly or wrongly) from warfare or by selling weapons and other goods to one or even both of the parties at war in their own or in foreign countries.

Types of war profiteers

Different types of war profiteers can be distinguished ranging from single persons, to whole companies or trusts, and nations.

During and after World War II enormous profits were made by persons selling rare goods like cigarettes, chocolate, coffee and butter on the black market.

In general, all companies selling weapons increase their profits when war starts.

Furthermore, one can distinguish passive war profiteers from active war profiteers:

  • Passive war profiteers make profits from a war without influencing the duration and/or outcome of a war.
  • Active war profiteers, in addition to making profits from a war, have a vital interest in starting and prolonging wars in order to make or increase their profits. Basil Zaharoff's Vickers Company sold weapons to all the parties involved in the Chaco War.

Anti-profiteering measures

Making unreasonable profits from war is widely considered unethical and is deeply unpopular, so attempts to prohibit excessive war profiteering, such as the imposition of an excess profits tax, receive much political support in wartime. Defining 'excessive' accurately is difficult, however, and such legislation frequently allows some instances of profiteering to go unchecked while reducing the income of others' war-related business to loss-making levels.

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