In business “bad profits” are short-term gains at the expense of a business’ long-term viability. For example, soaking your loyal customers might bring you some increase in short-term profits but the customers won’t remain loyal, and your future market share will decrease. Cutbacks in service, quality, and overall value drive future customers away.
Bad profits are what you get when you use tricks to bring a quick boost to quarterly profits, paid back with trouble later. With a bad-profit approach a company might get a short-term gain, but loses the future. *
For the Republican Party, this is that future. For the giant corporations that funded the worst elements of the right, this is that future.
Many businesses have been gaining bad financial and political profits by funding the conservative movement and its corruption machine. They put money into right-wing “think tanks” and the other anti-government, anti-law, anti-democracy outfits. They did this because it purchased a Party that gave them tax breaks, favors of various kinds and monopolistic deregulation, boosting their profits. But these were bad profits.
To keep the votes coming they encouraged the worst kind of ignorant, racist, superstitious, reactionary thinking. It worked, it got them the votes that got them the tax cuts and the capital gains breaks and the deregulation and the rest. But it also “dumbed down” their constituents — now too many actually believe that tax cuts increase revenues, cutting government helps the economy, and other nonsense. (Never mind climate denial and the coming consequences.)
Now the consequences of this “dumbing down” of the Republican base are coming home to roost. By financing the right these companies ate the seed corn of democracy that enabled their prosperity in the first place. Now the Frankenstein’s monster they created opposes funding infrastructure and R&D and courts even economic statistics. (And immigration, health care, disaster relief…)
They have shut down the whole damn thing. They have shut down the prosperity engine. They have killed the golden goose. And they are on the edge of shutting down the whole world’s economy.
* Actually the “they” who make bad profits get big bonuses or big stock payouts and move on, but the company suffers. It is very important to see the difference between the people who do the bad things and make fortunes doing so, and the company that suffers from those things. A company is not a sentient being that makes decisions, people do that. And particular people do that. Bob in Accounts Receivable and Bev in Sales didn’t make the decisions or get the bonus but it is their job that goes away when the bad profit scheme catches up to the company. Just like how the citizens haven’t been making the decisions for the country but it is their economy and democracy that has been wrecked while the billionaires can fly away in their jets to their private islands.