The standard textbook definition of capitalism is "an economic system in which private individuals or businesses own capital goods." (Investopedia)
But, what does that even mean? In simple terms, capitalism is a system that deals with money and wealth where citizens and not governments own and run companies, and companies compete with other companies for business. (Britannica Kids)
When reading the definition of capitalism, it sounds liberating and harmless; however it is not. Being able to generate money and wealth without government intervention on how that money is distributed sounds nice, but many critics and anti-capitalists have expressed how this system generates inequality, making the wealthy wealthier, and making the poor poorer.
Of course many people work hard to generate the wealth they have, but everyone does not have the privilege to work hard and one day become a millionaire or even generate enough wealth to move up a social class. Capitalism exemplifies the "pick yourself up by your bootstraps" mentality. But as Dr. King once said, "It's all right to tell a man to lift himself by his own bootstraps, but it is a cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps." Historically, marginalized groups especially BIPOC folks have been left bootless, unable to pick themselves up by their bootstraps no matter how hard they work.
Tupac 1992 Interview "It's too much money here"
Capitalism is the reason millionaires and billionaires exist. In my opinion there is no reason America has a population of almost 600,000 homeless people, yet millionaires and billionaires exist (The State of Homelessness in America). There is no reason a McDonald's worker can't live comfortably off minimum wage yet McDonald's generates an average of 4.6 billion dollars per year (Statista). That is worker exploitation. But, we're expected to work a 9-5 until the age of 65, and the average life span of a human is 79 years old.
65 years of work and 14 years to finally rest does not sound like fun to me.
Even as a 22 year old, there are some days where I don't want to work at all. I want to rest. I got a taste of working in the "real world" last year after graduating with my Bachelors in Criminal Justice. It was so difficult to find a job in my field that offered the pay I know I deserved as a college graduate. After finally landing a job, I was so exhausted every day sitting at a desk, working for hours straight, even though it was a job making a great impact on the community. In reality, we all want money because we need it to operate in this system; however, none of us really want to work the rest of our lives to achieve the financial stability we want and need.
In all, capitalism has it's pros, but in my opinion there are more cons than pros. No one deserves to be homeless in a a society where millionaires and billionaires exist.
What are your thoughts on all of this: capitalism, the wealth gap, and working in general?
Leave your thoughts in the comment section below. Don't forget to suggest other topics you are interested in discussing in this group hub on the Discussion Poll post.