Fix the System

The poltical system of the USA is facing major issues of which the average citizen is unaware. The power to fix these issues lies solely in the hands of the public.

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Location: Peabody, Massachusetts, United States

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Why We Love Capitalism

Ah, America--the birthplace of Capitalism. The capitalist system provides security and opportunity for millions of people--and for some, even wealth. As a direct result, the USA is the wealthiest country in the world, is a driving force in the world economy, and has provided a model that much of the rest of the world has adopted.

In short, Capitalism is good. Right?

Capitalism is just like any other system. It has strengths and weaknesses. The problem is that its strengths are seductive, and its weaknesses are easy to ignore.

The Good
Nothing motivates people as effectively and consistently as money. Capitalism provides a structure for wealth building that is unparalleled. Opportunities for rags-to-riches possibilities abound. Americans believe that anyone willing to learn how to use capitalism for personal gain can do so. This provides hope to the destitute, opportunity to the ambitious, and security for the hard-working.

You can do anything if you have enough money.

The Bad
You can do anything if you have enough money.

"You have to spend money to make money." As a result, the wealthiest continue to get wealthier, amassing power proportionate to that wealth. Power can easily be misused; this is especially true when speaking of power that comes from wealth.

Amassing wealth often requires compromising morals. Drug dealers use Capitalism extremely effectively. However, morals can be compromised without breaking laws. Consider the company that under-sells competitors temporarily to put them out of business. Is destroying the livelihood of a small business owner virtuous? There's a reason they call it cut-throat.

Seduction
However, most people are uninterested in looking at the problems of Capitalism unless they have been directly and obviously hurt by it. (And people who are hurt by it generally do not have enough money for the rest of the system to care about them.) The reason is that for all but the most destitute, capitalism provides us with a wealth of stuff.

Before money was invented, the measure of wealth was stuff. If you had more food, clothing, pottery, trinkets and tools than the next person, you were more likely to survive and procreate. We have been genetically wired to collect things that add perceived value to our lives.

Capitalism is happy to oblige this need.

The most wealthy entities, corporations, need to sell products or services to make their money, which means they need consumers to buy them. The bulk of consumers end up with little money but lots of product, which satisfies our "need" for stuff.

This has lead to a viscous circle where companies manufacture perceived need, in order to keep the flow of cash. This creates an unhealthy appetite for consumption in the general consumer base. This is one of the reasons for many social problems, including obesity. We want more than we need.

I would encourage all who read this to do two things. Next time you think, "I need that," or "I want that," ask yourself, first, if you really need it, and second, if you want to support the company that provides it. It's time to pause and think about Capitalism.

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