My blog is titled “I’ve been thinking” and that is what this writing is, just some thoughts. There are smarter people than me, I am just a country boy trying to survive in this world and help others along the way. So take it for what it is worth, any comments are welcome.
Some say capitalism is based totally on greed and that it has failed. In light of the Wall Street fiascos that may seem correct. I have read a lot of stuff promoting socialism or other redistribution of wealth schemes that are put forth to cure the evils of capitalism. I admit that I am not an economist, do not understand Wall Street very well, and am not wealthy, but like many, I have my opinions. At age 63 my main concern is that my grandchildren have as much opportunity and freedom as I did to make a living, experience success, and maybe even experience failure and the challenge of starting over. I also want them to have the joy and self esteem of providing for themselves and their families and trusting in God as their higher power, not government. I also recognize that some people cannot take care of themselves and that we need to help them survive.
I have been thinking about this a lot. I am open to other ideas and welcome any questions or comments on my thoughts.
Capitalism may be greed driven to some, that is obvious. Some want wealth more than anything in the world. Some gain their wealth honestly, some dishonestly, that has been true for the history of the world. I actually like the idea that i could be wealthy although it probably won’t happen to me! But there are other motivations too.
To some it is the reward for innovation that makes all our lives better. That list is endless, from television to communication systems to automobiles etc etc etc. some of the motivation for these inventions was curiosity, some to prove they could do it, and some to build wealth. Regardless of the reason, we are better off for these things in spite of the wealth others built by inventing them.
Now I hear that these big businesses have control over us because of their wealth and their products that we need, in addition to credit that we think we need in order to buy these products. I think they only have the power that we let them have by our inability to control our own spending and greed for these things. We have a choice to buy what we want and to buy it where we want. We are free to say yes or no to the plethora of advertisements that plague us or even the predatory loan phone calls we receive, I contend that we don’t say no because we do not understand our priorities as being ultimate peace and happiness, instead of instant gratification.
Millions of people depend upon these large corporations success as we have IRA’s, pensions, or other long term savings that contain stocks in these companies. I want them to succeed. I also believe that many of these corporations pay out way too much to their executives, but am not jealous because I know what the cost is to some of them who have climbed the corporate ladder. I was on it myself and saw people who missed out on a lot of life because of their addiction to work. If they get wealthy while providing me with a growing nest egg for my retirement I have little complaint about it.
I do feel for the employees who get “handled” by these corporations, but also believe they (we, I have been there) can or should do more to manage our own careers which are our businesses.
Many say that the wealthy have all the power under capitalism. Again, that may be true. I kind of understand the people that want wealth for what it can buy and how your lifestyle can be upgraded exponentially, although I do not agree with using money that way. I respect most the people who give back to charities, churches and other organizations that help others.
The people who just seem to want the power that money brings scare me. If people want money just for the power, what is their goal? I am suspicious of that. Many advocate putting the government in control of redistributing folks’ earnings to the whole population. That may sound good, but I don’t like the idea of someone else deciding who should get what, and how much is enough for anyone. Will the receivers of the unearned money ever get enough to buy the things that the earners provide and also purchase for themselves? The government currently has plenty of power, taxation, laws, even moral decrees that feel like attempts to manage our lives. Where does it end? Where will it end if we are dependent upon them?
Big corporations are accused of exploiting the customer, but the customers have a choice. We have little choices with government edicts such as taxes or laws that force us to comply with. I fear big government as much more than big corporations. The oil spill, Katrina and illegal aliens are just a few examples of how big bureaucracy has gone amok. Do we really want it bigger? What will happen with health care?
I think the answer to our problem is education and values. We need to understand debt, not just how it works, but what it does for us and to us. I grew up in a small town where we had layaway plans at stores; folks would come in with $20 once a month to buy a $60 item in three months; I doubt if anyone under 50 recalls this idea. Now we charge the $60 today and gripe about the interest and the unmanageable balance on our credit cards. In my town work was viewed as a normal, good thing. I don’t recall folks griping about their jobs, they were happy to have them and understood how their paychecks supported them. Illegal aliens wouldn’t have had many opportunities there. They weren’t as concerned about what they were doing as how well they were doing it for their employer. If something cost too much they didn’t buy it. Most lived in modest or rented homes. You can’t exploit someone if they don’t participate. I learned a lot there, but admittedly didn’t use all I learned over my life. Now I am trying to teach these concepts to my family in hopes that they live happy lives. They don’t need a nanny, they need to learn to be creative, have a servant’s attitude about work, keep abreast of the employment markets, and manage their money. Sounds simple but it isn’t, there is more too it. That is where practical education comes in.
We can’t control the stock market, the economy or much else, but we can control a lot and if we trust our real Higher power we can make it and pursue happiness.