Capitalism Is A Beautiful Thing When It Works

November 6, 2011

Breakfastpop commented on her hub, "Maple Granola and the Observer," that "capitalism done right is a beautiful thing and the only thing that succeeds in the long run." Her observation happens to be exactly right. In my view there is simply no way of arguing around that logic. The question is then, is capitalism working? Is capitalism being done right?

I think we have issues in this department.

I say it all the time that I dislike the way that our CEO's are paid. There's an indisputable widening gap between what the CEO's get and what the average worker gets when it comes to compensation and benefits. In several hubs I've written in the past I've cited numbers which clearly show that during the greatest and longest period of economic prosperity in this country, the bulk of that benefit has not been realized by the average worker. I have often times spoken out against globalization, and the effect it has had on the average American worker's earnings power. This makes it appear that somehow I'm against capitalism, or that I am for protectionism, or even against globalization for that matter. My claim suggests that I want someone in a position of authority to start making rules about these kinds of things—namely the government.

That could not be farther from the truth.

The fact is that I like the free markets, and I think that the key to allowing capitalism to work is by making sure that the government gets out of the way, and by making it clear to the American people that the ball is in our court. The choice to reap the greatest rewards from what is arguably the best economic system in the world is ours to make. And likewise, the position that we find ourselves in right now is largely a result of our own allowing of the free markets to work against us.

At the end of the day we are the markets. Everything that happens in the system of capitalism is a direct result of what we ourselves contribute to it. There are no phantoms out there driving this whole system. There are not evil people with sinister grins cracking whips and forcing gears to be turned at their whim. There is only the response. The response is what lies at the heart of capitalism. Capitalists respond to what the system tells them is the most profitable, agreeable, and acceptable course of action.

What I'm saying is that if we want this system to start working in our favor again, then we have to be very aware of our role in that, and we need to be actively engaged in our own personal prosperity. We have choices to make when it comes to what we buy. We have choices to make when it comes to how we buy. And especially we have choices to make when it comes to how we save and invest our money, thereby empowering ourselves to have a better ability to make choice rather than have choices made for us through necessity.

For example, when you allow yourself to become indebted to the point that you could never possibly repay the debt, then you become a victim. You become powerless to control your destiny. Perhaps you must buy something made in China simply because you cannot afford the premium you'll pay for the alternative product that's made here. You become locked into what your boss says your worth because you cannot afford to tell him it's not enough, and move into a new, better paying job.

We need to reinvigorate competition. It's the only way any one of us is going to really get things back on the right track when it comes to the system of capitalism. How we do that is by getting our own personal houses in order first. Nobody should be sitting on their duffs not doing their own part to right their own situations. Nobody should be waiting for the CEO's to start raising their wages and offering better benefits. Nobody should be waiting for the government to start making demands that corporations start working for the people or else.

Being competitive means that we put ourselves in a position to dictate the status quo. We can buy American, for example, and send the message that we want American made and are willing to pay for it. We have to make sure that we educate ourselves and make ourselves more valuable to the corporations that hire us. We have to make sure that we don't spread ourselves too thin, and then be forced to accept what the boss thinks we're worth because leaving our jobs may mean we can't pay some bills. We want to make it so that we can show the employer that someone else may think you're worth more, and because as a people if we are all empowered, the level of competition for talent is more fierce. We can buy local and support smaller businesses and in turn scrape away just a bit of the market share of the big boys. You can bet they (the big boys) will do things to try and earn some of that business back.

The bottom line is something I said about capitalism in another comment on Breakfastpop's hub. I said, "We are free to screw ourselves out of its benefits as well as we are free to get something out of it."

Getting capitalism to start working again is a task for us. I think if we get to work on that idea, it's going to help to get our country, America, working again, and it will serve to restore American's faith in this great system of ours that it can work for them. Not only must we get government out of the way. We need to get out of our own way.

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Comments 11 comments

feenix profile image

feenix 4 years ago

Hello, Springboard,

As a black man who grew up poor in a "very dysfunctional ghetto," and as one who is now a successful, financially-secure person, I KNOW that capitalism is a beautiful thing and that it works.

I must also say that the United States of America has been good to me. This great nation has provided me a never-ending line of opportunities to pull myself up from the bottom and to keep right on climbing towards to the top.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States

This is an interesting hub and personal responsibility is a major factor in capitalism working. People can't sit around expecting handouts when they are capable of helping themselves. It seems everyone wants to blame everyone and everything else when they don't have their own house in order. We need to buy American but the government also needs to simplify the process for small businesses to grow their businesses. I think this president has failed miserably in making the right decisions to let capitalism help pull this country out of this deep hole.


Springboard profile image

Springboard 4 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Feenix, opportuntiy is the key in this, and it's the part that a lot of people who complain about capitalism forget about. We may not be able to control what others DO, but we CAN control what WE do. I may not get paid what I want, my current employer may not offer me a pension, but that doesn't mean I can use any of that as an excuse to fail. It's up to me to be the cause of what happens to me. I can, for example, live frugally on what pay I get and educate myself on how investment works, and just work as hard as I can to earn what I can and invest what I can, and rather than wait for opportunity's doors to open for me, I can open them myself.

Thanks very much for stopping in.

Pamela, I can't agree with you more. Heavy and overbearing regulation, and heavy and overbearing taxation KILLS business, and that's one thing this president absolutely does not understand. If one wants to know how much government knows about business, one need look no further than Amtrak or the Postal Service. Oh yes, of COURSE, I always hear that the Postal Service is technically not run by the government. Okay. Right. But who ponies up those billions of dollars they are in the hole by? And how well is that whole "business" working out? Compared to DHL, FedEx, and UPS I think the contrast in performance is very telling.

The best thing government can do is step aside and let people succeed and fail all on their own.

BTW, have you seen Perry's tax plan? It's sweeping. I don't know how he'll work out the revenue shortfalls, but man...his plan would certainly do something. He currently has the boldest tax plan out there.


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 4 years ago from London, UK

A great idea and splendid hub. I think you got the point of the way forward and without the government which over here sit on their backsite and boozes away.


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 4 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon

Beautifully said Springboard. Although I do believe that there is a phantom force out there that is manipulating things to steer the masses in certain directions (I think it's called corporate marketing), ultimately in a capitalist society, we have some control. I am not sure that we have complete control though. Our educational system is turning out less and less thinking people, which results in a mentality of impulse decision making based on emotions rather than logic. I don't think that many of us are as wise or informed as an educated person in the 19th or 18th centuries.

You said that we could show big business that we want to buy American, but I am afraid that by buying American products designed to break and fail (GM, Dodge) at a much quicker rate than foreign brands such as Honda and Toyota, we are merely telling them to bend us over a barrel and give us more substandard products. Do you think that if we only buy American, that American companies will eventually start competing in such a way that we will benefit? I think that's what you mean. Is that right?

What an excellent point about how not controlling our own situation ends up forcing us to buy foreign product when we need the higher quality item. I struggle with this concept on a much smaller scale: eggs. I know the pure organic eggs (non-caged, naturally fed, no hormones) are better for me and they do have a positive effect on my body versus the cheap factory farm eggs. But it doesn't feel like I'm taking anything away by buying the cheaper eggs and it reduces my monthly costs from 20 dollars to 5 for eggs.

But the ONLY reason I struggle is because I am poor (slowly getting out of it) and I am poor today because of bad decisions yesterday. This isn't to whine by the way, I just see how bad decisions can culminate into bigger and bigger ones.

Lately, I am so disgusted with the culture of debt that I have been a part of, that I don't even want to consider getting a loan to buy a house. I am saving for a plot of land to put my own house on. It's a long road, but it's a choice for freedom.


Springboard profile image

Springboard 4 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Hello, at the end of the day it's about the people directing their own fate, and realizing that they have the power to do that. Waiting for CEOs to make decisions in the people's favor doesn't work. Neither does waiting for the government. For that matter it doesn't make sense to let the unions dictate things either. CEOs, and governments should be reactive to the voice of the people, and so that means that WE have to be clear about what they hear. If we send the right signals then they follow what those signals tell them is the right course of action to take. Politcians want to get reelected, and CEOs want to make money for their shareholders. They will do what needs to be done to achieve those ends. And again, these are free market principles working...what I like to call natural processes. Before what we were telling CEOs, for example, is that we want cheaper, and we didn't care where something was made. Our choices, as a result, have been narrowed dramatically. Not to a point that we can't reverse that—though it may be a longer and more difficult process. If we want jobs we have to have a proactive endeavor toward that. If we want better pay, we have to increase the competition for that pay to be necessary to offer. It's again all about those signals we send. Choose Joe's Burger Shack for lunch over McDonald's 25% of the time. Choose Joe's Department Store over Walmart 25% of the time. It will return some market share to some of the smaller players in the market, make their businesses better able to compete with the bigger players, and help to force the bigger players to compete with the smaller players, whether it be attracting customers, or WORKERS and talent for that matter.


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 4 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon

That makes sense to me. That is the road I am taking, living my life in accordance with my principles (quality eggs, supporting the community and so on), and I don't expect anything to change, but maybe I will influence one more person to live that way, and maybe our numbers will increase. You've given me a reason to reconsider buying only American.


Springboard profile image

Springboard 4 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Alexander, I'm with you that I'm only one guy and what I do alone doesn't change the world. But I like to think I'm but one of many, and that more people can reason out that idea as they take more time to step back and look at where they are, and why they are where they are, and what they can do to break the cycle and empower themselves. The bigger things get the more power and control they have to set the course. Smaller is better not only in government, but in business as well. In any working free market system, competition drives innovation, creation, AND prosperity for all involved. Competition is not just about commerce, but also about jobs and employer offerings for those jobs. The tides turn when instead of employers saying to their workers, "Be happy you have a job," WE can say to THEM, "Be thankful you have ME to GET the job DONE."


Alexander Mark profile image

Alexander Mark 4 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon

Amen! If I ever have employees, I will be treating them like gold because they ARE the ones the business owner relies on. Definitely like the idea of smaller government, we are way too regulated.


nicomp profile image

nicomp 4 years ago from Ohio, USA

"We have choices to make when it comes to how we buy. And especially we have choices to make when it comes to how we save and invest our money, thereby empowering ourselves to have a better ability to make choice rather than have choices made for us through necessity."

Yes. Vote with your dollars.


Springboard profile image

Springboard 3 years ago from Wisconsin Author

Nicomp. Exactly. The unfortunate thing is that few Americans really understand the power of the dollars they spend. As the old saying goes. It is what it is.

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