There sure are a few angry & uneducated Americans out there who haven’t a shred of understanding how Capitalism works. I’m not sure I should be the one to attempt to rectify that situation because I have a tendency to over-simplify things … like reducing them to their lowest common denominator >>> Anyone remember that? The lowest common denominator? I digress …
For many of us growing up in America, our first brush with Capitalism is the Lemonade stand we do for girl or boy scouts or helping out with a school or church (or synagogue) bake sale or rummage sale. Yup! THAT is Capitalism, my friends, pure & simple! Create a product or service, find a market, sell your service or product at a price the market can bear, reap the rewards, use some to continue or build the business, the rest is PROFIT. Please notice, profit is NOT a 4 letter word! You worked for it; you earned it. If you sell enough lemonade that you need a helper, then you share the PROFIT with that helper in some way (this is “overhead” – the cost of running the business). If you have a good product/service and if the price is right, your business will grow and more helpers will be needed. If, on the other hand, the product/service is NOT good or the price is NOT correct, your business will fail. From Main street to Wall Street, this is how capitalism works. On Wall Street, however, the business has achieved huge success because the owner has made good decisions, provides a Good product/service at an excellent price, but the concept is the same.
What happened somewhere along the way, is really not as complicated as many have said. It’s simple GREED! Union bosses, notoriously corrupt for decades, charge Union members DUES – meant as insurance in case of strikes, to cover the cost of … uh, Union bosses, etc. The vast majority of Union contracts include pensions. The Union members never knew when the pensions started that funding them would soon be a very real issue, but … no worries, every Union member deserves 30 days vacation, full medical benefits, dental, 401K … etc! Again, the majority of Union workers never gave a thought to where all this was coming from … who was paying? Then sometime in the 70’s, people started to ask.
So greed drove Union bosses to levy contracts with pensions without funding. OOOOPS! In the meantime, Corporate CEO’s, with an eye on the bottom line, began to get wise to the unreasonable cost of Union employees, and began to move jobs overseas. Union bosses drove the price of steel, for example, significantly beyond what the market could bear. As a result, steel mills shut down, jobs were shipped overseas because the product could be made cheaper there. It is CAPITALISM = all about the bottom line! Now, if the Union bosses had the foresight to promote EXCELLENCE in the product or service, a slightly higher price wouldn’t have been an issue, but most of us realized that Honda, and Suzuki, and Panasonic, and Sony … actually put out a better product AND cost less – at least in the 60’s – 70’s.
What has happened in the last few decades? More of the same. the Rich get richer because they know how to do it, they know how to provide a product, how to market a product, how to price a product. They are willing to work long hours, in odd places around the clock and around the nation, or even the globe to push their product/service. At some point, it is no longer about the money, but about the “deal!” The high rollers, as we might call them, are all about the “deal,” the bargaining, the trying to out-smart, out-think, out-gamble the other players. GREED? Not really! Greed belongs to those who have NOT … not to those who have!
The turmoil now … the unrest, the angst against the RICH? All based on … you guessed it, GREED! Because Existentialism has been the religion of choice for colleges and universities since the 60’s – maybe earlier, a large segment of our population had their heads filled with the hopelessness and purposelessness that fills what some call good literature. People, however, cannot survive long without a purpose, so … ENTER … well, we can call it SELF-pity, SELF-loathing, or SELF-destruction. After all, we were the “ME” generation. We were ripe for re-programming! In creeps the socialist “fairness” theories. In walks the misplaced anger. Frankly, I think maybe some of us were moving in the phase of indestructibility, thinking America had become indestructible! America could handle our angst no matter how we screwed things up!
Whatever our thoughts, after the “Establishment” was been torn down, we found out there was some value in that Establishment! We wanted the peace and serenity our parents knew. No, not world peace, but inner peace – peace with ones SELF!
Found it yet? If you’re chasing your tail for a bigger bone, or bigger piece of the proverbial pie, I can tell you it will not satisfy! Nothing, no fancy car, no mansion, no gorgeous clothes can FIX what’s broken until you and I come to grips and admit something IS broken. If I am not content with who I am,
It is something You and I must do for ourselves. If we manage to conquer this, GREED will not be an issue any longer. And that’s my 2 bits for today!
One of the most dangerous beliefs in western thought is that STUFF and the accumulation of such is the measure of success (or contentment!)