It’s politics season, so people are throwing around the word capitalism (usually as an inoculation against the scary socialism) as if they are invoking the name of a personal deity. So what is capitalism in America today? In my parents’ generation, it meant starting your own business, working hard, and making enough money — sometimes lots. In capitalism, private ownership wins out and thrives.
That was when affordable supply chains and bank loans weren’t shutting almost all of us out. Capitalism once was private and gave us all plenty, but now that the infrastructure is in place, most of us find our labors flowing to others. Just look at your own life if you doubt me.
To us, modern ‘capitalism’ usually means taking a wage from a business that isn’t loyal to you, buying your food from corporations, voting for corporate-sponsored politicians, watching corporate-backed news, buying corporate products from mostly corporate brand stores, and filing the rest of the time with corporate-made entertainment. There is precious little ‘capitalism’ left.
Now, if you’ve got a success story to tell, you’re considered one of the lucky ones who escaped the cycle, and everyone’s envious. It takes a unique person these days to smash through the barriers. The common man, the Moms and Pops among us, rarely can. That’s not a viable system. That’s a lottery.
The few people who are rich enough or creditworthy enough to start their own businesses are squashed by the international and legislative advantage that massive businesses hold.
Too many people seem to think hard work is the same thing as ‘capitalism.’ In truth, almost all of us work hard to put the fruit of our labor in an investor’s pocket. Although most of us are very hard workers, few of us are really ‘capitalists’ the way we think we are, and fewer of us still can afford to be. We confuse toil with capitalism.
Why can’t Americans see their lives for what they really have become?