It's OK, I'm a Capitalist

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I had some work done on my home by a contractor. I was very specific about what I wanted done. There were other things wrong with my house but I told the contractor to ignore them. Three weeks later I called the contractor and accused them of not fixing all of the problems, and if they didn’t come back and fix them I would call the Better Business Bureau (among other agencies) and report them as a bad contractor. Rather than deal with all the hassle, they came back and fixed the rest of the house even though they lost money on the deal. It’s OK, I’m a capitalist, I love free markets.

 

I went to a friend’s wedding last weekend. I bought a beautiful suit from a local store and had $200 worth of alterations done to it. It looked beautiful at my friend’s wedding. The Monday after the wedding, I returned the suit and told them that it didn’t feel right and I wasn’t going to try to get it fitted, I just wanted all of my money back for a suit that was tailored specifically to me. They gave me all my money back. It’s OK, I’m a capitalist, I love free markets.

 

I helped out with the music at my friend’s reception. I bought a beautiful amplifier from eBay, that we used to play music at the wedding reception. After the reception, I took the amplifier, hit it with a hammer, took a picture of it, and shipped it back to the eBayer who sold it to me, claiming that it was damaged in transit or before it was shipped, and I wanted all of my money back. The eBay seller reluctantly gave me my money back, claiming that the amplifier was in perfect condition when he shipped it and given the way it was packaged before it was shipped there was no way it could have been damaged in that way, but I got my money back. It’s OK, I’m a capitalist, I love free markets.   

 

 I started my own small company. I gave some of my employees fancy titles and insisted that they were “professionals” and paid them as small as salaries as I could. Since they were on salaries and I called them “professionals” I could work them late into the night as well as weekends and never pay them overtime. Some weeks, if you took the salary that I paid them and divided by the number of hours they worked, they made less than $7.00 an hour. It’s OK, I’m a capitalist, I love free markets.  

 

Things in the business got so good that I hired my cousin, and made him executive vice president with a really healthy salary, company car, and company credit card, even when he knew nothing about the business, had dropped out of college, and had a drug problem. My cousin and I dreamed up all kinds of crazy plans on how to run the company, and never listened to the employees who were doing the work, getting their hands dirty and working overtime. The things we dreamed up on the golf course at the country club (membership paid for by the company, of course) on Fridays never worked because we had no idea what we were doing, and the salaried workers would have to work all kinds of overtime to take care of the customers. It’s OK, I’m a capitalist, I love free markets.   

 

Some companies started doing what my company was doing. They started “poaching talent” offering my employees more money than I was paying them. It was unprofessional on their part to poach my employees and disloyal on the part of my employees to go elsewhere. This is capitalism; they’re supposed to love me, after all, I gave them a job. It was kind of like freed slaves confronting their master; I insisted that I had done all kinds of great things for them, and they appreciated none of it. This capitalism idea sucks. The people that I paid were very disloyal, and the new people want more money, which might mean that I cannot have a new car every year and have my company pay for the country club membership, among other things.

 

In order that I could keep driving expensive European sedans, taking vacations every three months, and all of the other perks that come with being a CEO, I hired “contractors” to do a lot of the work. I never checked to see if they were actual American citizens, because what did I care? It was the free market that was supplying the “contractors” and I got to keep my generous salary, company European sedan and country club membership. It’s OK, I’m a capitalist, I love free markets.

 

I have to be careful, though. There are people in this market that will do anything to make money. There are people who believe that the only “fair fight” is one where they win. They care nothing for their fellow citizens; they cheat anyone and everyone as much as they can. They call themselves capitalists, but all they care about is themselves, how much money they can make, how much work they won’t have to do, what kind of a luxury life they can have. Whenever they have the upper hand, you’ll never get a break, they’ll take everything they can from you, work you until you are sick, and then toss you like a used paper towel. They aren’t capitalists, they are elitist opportunists.

 

In case you’re wondering, I never did any of those things, never got even close. It is a made-up story describing someone calling themselves a capitalist. Hope you get it.

Comments

George N Romey Added Apr 23, 2017 - 2:19pm
You can love a good football game but would you want football to get rid of the referees because some believe they ruin the game?  You might like having a nice glass of wine at dinner but if your kids are playing near the street do you want a neighbor that just drank a bottle of wine getting behind the wheel of his/her car?  You might be able to short an elderly person money but does that make it ok to do?
 
Like all things in life there are no absolutes only situations.  An unfettered market is a disaster to mankind just as total central planning by clueless bureaucrats. 
 
Finally, there are still many a business owner that is proud as hell that he/she provides a place of good paying jobs and understands the positive impact to the community.   We should be having a discussion of how do we provide for full employment, good jobs, strong enterprises, investment for the future and an economy not overloaded by gimmicks and debt instead of some of these moronic arguments heard on CNN, MSNBC or Fox.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Apr 23, 2017 - 2:41pm
What you described is predatory crapitalism. Or as I like to put it - IGMFU crapitalism. I Got Mine Fuck You. Yep, laissez faire crapitalism ladies and gentlemen. Ain't it grand.
John G Added Apr 23, 2017 - 2:49pm
Their useful idiots believe that everyone doing those things somehow makes the totality a societal good.
Rational self interest.
Jeff Jackson Added Apr 23, 2017 - 4:16pm
Ah, those rationalizations. As long as certain people can have everything at their fingertips, life and capitalism is good. They love the free markets as long as free markets keep them in the part, as Thorstein Veblen said,  as "the idle rich class." They create jobs, but pay as little as possible, in order for them to keep most of what they have.
I know that not all companies are like this. I have seen people who worked for companies that really took care of their employees and appreciated the work that was done for them. I know of one firm that paid full salaries to ladies who had children, and the ladies returned to work as soon as they could. It isn't all bad. But yes, I have seen companies work people until they were burnt out and disabled, and they threw them away like empty soda cans.
I love the companies that pay slave wages and then can't figure out why they can't keep anyone. I still find that rather amazing that they seek loyalty from the people that they screw. Loyalty is a two-way street. I do for you, you do for me. I guess they didn't teach that in business classes. I know they never taught it in any of my business classes. Look at the countries where millions, yes millions of people are trying to leave. There is no loyalty owed when all the government does is lay crap on you. But in the terms of government, why not have a revolution and turn things around? It's happened. It has happened in America. Surely we aren't the only country in the world that could change the government into something that valued citizens as something more than cannon fodder.
Dino Manalis Added Apr 23, 2017 - 5:24pm
Now, you will have to pay more in property taxes as a result of your home renovation, that's anti-development!  Property taxes are anti-property rights, as well as discriminate against poor school districts and prevent poor and middle class families and seniors from owning property!
George N Romey Added Apr 23, 2017 - 6:12pm
Funny there are companies like Southwest and Costco that pay their people the highest wages in the industry yet are consistently the highest per capita.  You are right countries that have little concern for most of their citizens typically are the ones with people trying to leave.
Ari Silverstein Added Apr 23, 2017 - 10:51pm
What's a slave wage?  In America, all workers are employees at will.  Meaning, if they don't like the wage, they don't have to work.  
Jeffry Gilbert Added Apr 23, 2017 - 11:27pm
There's Ari burnishing his obtuse credentials again 
John G Added Apr 24, 2017 - 2:39am
Americans have the freedom to starve. Hallelujah!!!!!!
Ain't capitalism grand.
Utpal Patel Added Apr 24, 2017 - 9:57am
It’s unprofessional for business owners to offer individuals more money than what they’re currently making to leave their current job?  What gives you/anyone the right to pay people less than their market value?  You sound like an elitist opportunist. 
Mike Haluska Added Apr 24, 2017 - 10:05am
Jeff -
 
your snide, self-aggrandizing comment:
 
"They create jobs, but pay as little as possible, in order for them to keep most of what they have."
 
begs the question - "Who the hell doesn't"???  How many people pay as much as they can for something???
Mike Haluska Added Apr 24, 2017 - 10:15am
John G -
 
"Americans have the freedom to starve. Hallelujah!!!!!!
Ain't capitalism grand."
vs.
Socialists have the guarantee of lifetime equality - equal misery for all!!!!
Ain't socialism grand?"
 
Seeing how I don't recall anyone starving to death in the US (even during the Great Depression), having the "freedom to starve" is kinda pointless.
 
George Kocan Added Apr 24, 2017 - 10:21am
A free market, as a social institution, is a self-regulating system.  In the abstract, as a theory, fraud and violence are limited because normal persons do not want to be cheated or beaten up because of their trade.  Employees are free to quit and even to sue for damages.  The same goes for customers who cheat a business out of goods and services. 
Jeff Jackson Added Apr 24, 2017 - 10:27am
Some keys must be getting stuck on some of your keyboards. I don't see executives being paid the bare minimum, as many of their compensation packages, are described in numerous journals, and are documented in print, as "generous." The last people that did work on my home were given nice things to drink as the weather was warm, they were given Klondike bars, and one was even given a shirt because he was getting sunburned as his shirt wasn't protecting his skin. So there was another $20.00 in things that made them more comfortable while doing their work. So I paid more than they asked for. I guess I'm stupid for being kind, understanding and generous, as I am not seeing those traits in capitalists. I guess I should have found a way to get more out of them with less money; that's what its all about, huh? (just one question mark). 
George N Romey Added Apr 24, 2017 - 10:36am
Jeff if you want to know why the 1% continues to take over, well you have your answer.  Ignorance is bliss.
Autumn Cote Added Apr 24, 2017 - 10:58am
Please note, the best way to keep your articles popular and commented upon, is to offer as many personal responses as possible.
Jeff Jackson Added Apr 24, 2017 - 11:53am
Utpal- it was the predatory capitalist that got mad because the "unprofessional" was poaching the talent- not me- the predators want everything to go their way- they love the competition of people bidding for work, but hate when talent is short and they have to pay people so much that they can no longer live comfortable, even luxurious lifestyles, or that they can't keep contributing funds to the trust of their great grandson, still unborn.
George N Romey Added Apr 24, 2017 - 12:18pm
Jeff people really need to stop listening to Fox News and do some reading of the 2008/2009 implosion by people working on Wall Street at the time.  Many tried to sound the alarm bells just to be silenced by the likes of Dick Fuld, James Gregory, Stan O'Neil, and Jimmy Cayne. People that took on disastrous risk for short term profits and to line their pockets with millions. 
Jeff Jackson Added Apr 24, 2017 - 12:37pm
Yup, George, and the one that I love the most was being able to buy insurance on securities that other people owned, like buying a homeowners policy on your neighbor's home. Can you imagine walking over to your neighbor on Saturday and telling them "Hey Josh, I just insured your house for $200k, sure hope it doesn't burn down any time soon." 
I mean, where else could you do that? This isn't a capitalist market economy, this is a bunch of elites screwing us and then asking to be bailed out by the same people that they are screwing, and the government goes right along.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Apr 24, 2017 - 2:31pm
this is a bunch of elites screwing us and then asking to be bailed out by the same people that they are screwing, and the government goes right along.
 
They didn't ask. They threatened worse than the Great Depression if their wishes weren't met. Financial Terrorism. 
George N Romey Added Apr 24, 2017 - 2:55pm
Jeff these were men blinded by their own self arrogance and sense of entitlement.  They thought they were above the rules of debt and credit.  Fuld would never allow anyone to ride the elevator with him.  His secretary of five years never remembers him even saying good morning or acknowledging her presence.  Stan O'Neil that drove Merrill Lynch into bankruptcy would not allow the tables around him in the executive dining room be occupied.  And this was an African American that grew up poor. 
 
I worked with a woman just like that. She assume anyone below her stature of CEO as human waste.  In reality she was just one miserable human being that never understood how lucky she had it.  Her own brother had lost his job and lost everything eventually becoming homeless.  You would think she would look around and realize just how lucky she was. 
 
These people are pure sociopaths and psychopaths.  Since they get results they are elevated, however, often in the end they crash and burn.  Unfortunately, the animal spirit of profits at any costs attract these types. 
Fernando Alcoforado Added Apr 24, 2017 - 4:58pm
Jeff Jackson, from your text I've looked at the paragraph where you state that there are people in this market that will do anything to make money. There are people who believe that the only “fair fight” is one where they win. They care nothing for their fellow citizens; they cheat anyone and everyone as much as they can. They call themselves capitalists, but all they care about is themselves, how much money they can make, how much work they won’t have to do, what kind of a luxury life they can have. Whenever they have the upper hand, you’ll never get a break, they’ll take everything they can from you, work you until you are sick, and then toss you like a used paper towel. They aren’t capitalists, they are elitist opportunists.
I disagree with your conclusion that they are not capitalists but opportunistic elitists. The capitalist world in which we live is constructed of objects designed for immediate obsolescence and discard. The speed of discarding applies not only to social values ​​and products consumed in the market, but also to the very human beings in the world of work who are being discarded and replaced by intelligent machines. The World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos reports that nearly half (47%) of all jobs in the United States and 35% in Britain will be susceptible to automation by technology over the next two decades according to The Economist and Researchers at the University of Oxford. McKinsey Consulting reported that 140 million workers could be replaced by automated by the technology by 2025. It is possible to imagine that the factories of the future will count less and less on the human presence in the production line. This is the essence of capitalism.
John G Added Apr 24, 2017 - 5:17pm
A free market, as a social institution, is a self-regulating system.
LOLz. It beggars belief that people believe talking points like that.
George N Romey Added Apr 24, 2017 - 5:37pm
Fernando the biggest crisis coming will be the human refugee crisis in the developed world when there are massive numbers of people unable to provide for themselves.  This assumes that our debt based economy even makes it that far.  There are no voices from either the public or private sector of how do we redefine work, economic prosperity, investment and savings, and adequate levels of demand. We continue to fight 2017 problems with 1957 ideas and plans. 
John G Added Apr 24, 2017 - 7:30pm
There are no voices from either the public or private sector of how do we redefine work, economic prosperity, investment and savings, and adequate levels of demand.
Yes there are, you just can't hear them while you listen to right wing alarmist misinformation and Fed conspiracy theorists.
Billy Roper Added Apr 25, 2017 - 7:57am
I believe in the government being a vessel which holds the race, and a true nation being based on genetic kinship. You know, kind of like our Founding Fathers did. It's okay, I'm a National Socialist.
Fernando Alcoforado Added Apr 25, 2017 - 11:05am
John G, the free market is not a self-regulating system because if it were, there would not be devastating crises like those of 1873, 1929 and 2008.
Fernando Alcoforado Added Apr 25, 2017 - 11:13am
George N Romey, I fully agree with your comment that shows that the greatest crisis to come will be refugees from the developed world when there will be a huge number of people unable to sustain themselves and that there are no public or private sector initiatives on how to redefine work, economic prosperity, investment and savings at adequate levels of demand.
Jeff Jackson Added Apr 26, 2017 - 8:42am
Some nations are going to have to learn to take care of themselves. If they cannot grow enough food, time after time, they need to cut down  on the population. I know that sounds like an easy, simple solution to a complex problem, and it is, but cultural and national traditions aside, if there are too many mouths to feed, these nations cannot expect the rest of the world to feed them. They are digging the graves of their offspring. 
The world no more owes the starving a living than it owes people jobs. The parents (individual responsibility, remember that? perhaps no longer taught in school?) owe their children food and sustenance. We feed them and they just make more, instead of controlling their populations. China had 25% of the world's population on just 14% of the world's arable land, and they realized this in the 1980s and started a plan. Many people criticized the plan, but it was a realistic assessment and a semi-successful program. I fully understand that there is enough food to feed the world, it just isn't in certain places, but that observation does nothing to feed the hungry. People starve to death because leaders allow it, and if you don't believe that, read about Stalin and Mao, who starved dozens of millions deliberately. 
Free markets are wonderful things, they bring us neat things, but they are also brutal, and have to be corrected at certain times.
Fernando Alcoforado Added Apr 26, 2017 - 11:26am
Jeff Jackson, I agree with your comments on the hunger issue and, most importantly, the last paragraph where you say that free markets are wonderful things that bring us neat things, but they are also brutal, and need to be corrected at times.
Jeff Jackson Added Apr 26, 2017 - 12:07pm
Starvation has been a political tool for centuries. The Irish were literally starved out of their country. The "Potato Famine" was a move by the British to get the Irish to leave, which they did. Stalin starved the Ukrainians, even when the Ukraine was the bread basket of Europe (I loathe to say Soviet Union, because they didn't voluntarily join, and they were forbidden to leave the union). Mao's campaigns caused massive starvation. On and on. Politicians cause their constituents to to starve almost always with reason or justification.
Capitalism, when everyone is equal, is quite efficient and productive, more so than any other economic model. Capitalism, when weighted against certain people because of political influence, is not much better than a tyrannical dictator allowing his friends to get rich and everyone else get poor.
The poor countries where all of the people are wanting to leave from have the 5% owning 95% of the wealth and the politicians making sure that the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor. That is the vast majority of the situation. Even extremely gifted intellectuals, i.e. engineers and physicians want to come to America the "land of opportunity." The opportunities are shrinking, and we are becoming more and more like the 5% owning 95%. America won't be worth living in if that happens, because we will be like all the rest. This is the "American exceptionalism" that is argued over constantly.
Billy Roper Added Apr 26, 2017 - 12:25pm
Thomas Malthus agrees.
George N Romey Added Apr 26, 2017 - 2:23pm
Jeff capitalism naturally concentrates wealth.  Therefore their needs to counteracting forces.  Some of that is legislation (despite what the total free marketers might want to think), some of it is preparing and training people for greater opportunities, some of it is leadership in both the public and private sector, some of it is a vigilant and informed populous. 
John G Added Apr 26, 2017 - 2:49pm
People starve to death because leaders allow it, and if you don't believe that, read about Stalin and Mao, who starved dozens of millions deliberately. 
Absurd American propaganda.
Ari Silverstein Added Apr 26, 2017 - 4:37pm
Capitalism, when everyone is equal, is quite efficient and productive, more so than any other economic model.
 
That’s called socialism.  Capitalism rewards those that excel at what they do.
Jeff Jackson Added Apr 26, 2017 - 4:57pm
Ari, the capitalism where everyone gets a fair chance, not the rigged game capitalism where there are a few that have more control than most all of the others. When capitalism starts, everyone has a fair chance at excelling. 
George N Romey Added Apr 26, 2017 - 6:00pm
So when Chelsea Clinton got her plumb job out of college because she was a Clinton while another equally skilled young person found only $15 an hour low level job that is everyone exceling at their best?
Jeff Jackson Added Apr 26, 2017 - 6:43pm
Well, of course the people who know the right people, have the correct pedigree and are already rich and powerful are the right people to hire, George. Everyone knows that. The rich excel because they were born to excel. The rest of us are just third string backup, worthy of no more than mediocre wages. Everyone knows that people like Chelsea Clinton are brilliant. Why, just look at all of her accomplishments, when she, er, ah, well, she went to a great college, then got that, ah, "consulting" job straight out of college with McKinsey and company where she, er, ah, well, I'm sure she contributed to something...

I love all of those companies where there are these people that are considered brilliant but you never see anything come out of them them that made any sense. I had one of these brilliant desk monkeys come and ask me about a surcharge that was a standard for the industry and insist that he was going to stop paying it. I told him that if he chose to do so, make sure I knew because all of the equipment that they had on our property  would disappear within a few hours. I think he made about twice what I made and, well, did something anyway.
John G Added Apr 27, 2017 - 3:01am
Stalin starved the Ukrainians, even when the Ukraine was the bread basket of Europe (I loathe to say Soviet Union, because they didn't voluntarily join, and they were forbidden to leave the union). Mao's campaigns caused massive starvation.
 
You're a victim of capitalist propaganda.
Capitalism IS a rigged game. It is a class system.
Ari Silverstein Added Apr 27, 2017 - 8:43am
Capitalism has nothing to do with “fairness” and “equality,” these are terms that socialists use to justify government control of our economy.  Capitalism is often unfair and always results in unequal outcomes.  Even at the start, depending on how successful your parents have been, you will get an unfair chance at success yourself.  The only rigged game I see is the type of capitalism liberals advocate for. 
Jeff Jackson Added Apr 27, 2017 - 9:05am
Of course, you're right Ari, capitalism has nothing to do with “fairness” and “equality.”  The United States of America does, however, have something to do with “fairness” and “equality.” There has always been government control of the economy, it is just that capitalists believe that government control means that that they keep the monopolies and protect companies that hold 95% of the market share. 
Yes, John, despite actually speaking to people who saw the starvation for themselves, I am a victim of propaganda. As I am sure you are aware, I am just a victim of the great conspiracy to disparage the U.S.S.R. and China, those lovable mugs who really mean no harm and we've just got the whole thing wrong and have published book after book that maintains the lies. Of course there is that impostor, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn who just got paid to tell the lies that the Western powers chose to tell. 
John G Added Apr 27, 2017 - 2:30pm
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn who just got paid to tell the lies
I understand that you are being sarcastic but the statement is true. He was a western agent. And an admirer of fascists.
Americans have no idea of the great propaganda machine that they live within.
The USA is a serial genocidal killer. Of course they will point the other way.
Ari Silverstein Added Apr 28, 2017 - 8:34am
“it is just that capitalists believe that government control means that that they keep the monopolies and protect companies that hold 95% of the market share.”
 
Capitalists believe no such thing.  That’s how liberals like to portray capitalists so that they can take control of the economy.  Capitalists believe that in the extremely rare occurrence that a monopoly exists, market forces will correct things.  It’s only when liberals get their greedy hands on an industry that market forces aren’t allowed to work their magic.  The taxi industry is the perfect example.  Those companies don’t come crying to conservative politicians when Uber started to eat into their market share. 
John G Added Apr 28, 2017 - 4:11pm
The market is magic?
That's religion, not reality.
Peter Corey Added May 3, 2017 - 9:33pm
>Americans have the freedom to starve.
 
Whereas under socialism, citizens have the obligation to do so.
 
That's probably the reason we always see people "voting with their feet" and attempting to exit socialist economies (with varying degrees of success) and enter relatively non-socialist ones. We never see it the other way around. 
 
Wonder why.
 
Peter Corey Added May 3, 2017 - 9:36pm
> I bought a beautiful suit from a local store and had $200 worth of alterations done to it.
 
$200 for alterations? Sounds like a rip-off to me. What the heck did you have done to it?
 
If you buy a good suit, alterations (trouser length; jacket sleeves) shouldn't cost more than about $50.00.