by Sean, crossposted from Hiding in the Backwaters:
“You evil capitalist; making wealth for other people.”
I heard that sarcastic comment the other day walking down the halls of the building where I rent office space. It never ceases to amaze me how willingly delusional some people are.
First off, let’s establish that wealth is a relative term. Compared to most of the world’s population, I’m sure that I appear as stupidly wealthy as Bill Gates appears to me. When someone makes such a ludicrous statement, it makes me wonder what their definition of wealth is.
Can we agree that giving someone a job is not the same as creating wealth? I’ve heard the same fellow is planning on hiring three people to man phones and make cold calls to pitch whatever product he has to sell. Is he really thinking about creating wealth for his employees? Is going to split the profits equally four ways? I kinda doubt it. He undoubtedly plans to keep most of the profits and pay is employees a meager wage for growing his business.
I’ve always understood capitalism to be about one thing: making money for #1. If capitalism is about creating wealth for others, how do you explain that 80% of the wealth in the U.S. is held by 20% of the population? (sociology.ucsc.edu) Have you ever pondered the term “trickle down economics?” Why not “downpour economics?” Or even “stream down economics?” Because capitalism and trickle down economics work just like a dam on a river. Sure, some of the water continues to flow down stream, but most of it stays behind the dam.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not really opposed to capitalism. I don’t even disparage the ridiculously wealthy—at least not very often. I just think you should call it what it is. If you want to adhere to capitalistic principles and state that capitalism allows all people the same theoretical opportunity to amass wealth, fine. But don’t for a minute delude yourself into believing that makes you a philanthropist.