Capitalism and opportunity

I obtained my college degree in Business Management at the age of 40. Obviously I didn’t go to college right after high school. For me, high school was a prison. I only wanted to graduate, turn 18, and then get my own place. That’s what I did. At eighteen years old, I was able to get a private sector job that enabled me to live on my own. This is known as opportunity. I want the same opportunity that was available for me to be available to all young people today and in the future.

Opportunity is the life blood of capitalism. Without opportunity capitalism fails. The system relies on competition to produce a strong economy built on a highly skilled and motivated work force. The system requires a government that understands capitalism. A government that understands its purpose is to help promote businesses and opportunity; not compete with them.

Government does not make money, it spends money. Government is supported by a tax burden placed on every working individual and business. Government didn’t build anything without the funds from the tax payers, or in the case of massive borrowing, future tax payers. There is only a certain ratio of tax burden that businesses can absorb and still be competitive in a global market.

Has all the recent mass corruption in big business proved that capitalism does not work? Has the combination of unemployment and underpaid workers along with grossly overpaid upper executives proved that capitalism has failed? Do these issues imply capitalism is out of balance or needs to be thrown out completely?

Capitalism is not without vulnerabilities. Pure capitalism is evil as there is no regard for the human condition. It is by no means immune to corruption that can cause any system to fail. It requires opportunity to work. If someone can’t get a job no matter how hard they’re willing to work, they will lose faith in capitalism. If people get money in a capitalistic society by not working hard but simply being part of some good old boys network, capitalism suffers. The same rules apply to strong capitalism as they do to strong business and strong government. The people in charge of the system need to have the utmost integrity and be the best qualified for the job, period.

Capitalism needs structure, regulation and oversight. CEOs should not receive more money in one month than the average worker makes in a lifetime. CEOs should not be treated like ancient Egyptian pharaohs. They shouldn't be given enough money to build their own pyramids. This practice leads to arrogance, carelessness, corruption, neglect and incompetence. CEOs are more accountable when they make 40 times the average worker’s salary as it was in America in 1980, not over 500 times the average worker’s salary as it was in the year 2000. How accountable will someone be if they are given enough money in one month to live very comfortably on for the rest of their lives no matter how poor their future performance might be?

“In a country well governed poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed wealth is something to be ashamed of.” – Confucius (551-479B.C.)

In order to strengthen capitalism and provide a minimum standard of living for all people, everyone should have the right to employment. This needs to be a top priority, and we absolutely have the ability through the right people and organizations to make this happen. Unemployment is a problem for many countries. In our global economy, we should all work together to find solutions. Solutions include increasing skills and logistics to get the people who need work to where work needs to be done.

We need to get rid of factory farms and go back to local organic farming. This would create jobs and improve the quality of food. It is also far more humane for the animals. We need to get rid of automated checkout and return to human customer service. We need to remove shelled out buildings and use that land to plant more food. We need to manufacture clothing and furniture in this country. We need to stop unfair competition instilled by big business and remove red tape to promote small local businesses. We need to promote opportunity for communities to take themselves out of poverty. We need less people on unemployment and food stamps, not more.

“Work banishes those three great evils: boredom, vice and poverty.” – Voltaire

“True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

Those who take the opportunities to increase their skills and raise their value in the job market should be rewarded with the ability to buy more stuff than they were before. At the same time, the poorest of Americans should have a minimum level of opportunity and standard of living. Would a job program that guarantees employment to anyone seeking it be a cost this country cannot afford? How much does the US spend on unemployment benefits? How much does the US spend on welfare? How much does the US spend on crime and prisons?

People need money to live. If they can’t get money through employment, they will find other ways, including crime. How much does the US spend for every prisoner in jail? How much could we reduce that number with job opportunity? Imagine the impoverished communities in this country. If everyone could at least earn minimum wage which would provide housing and all the basic necessities, these communities, now filled with the unemployed, could be revitalized with workers and paychecks; this would stimulate the economies of these neighborhoods and bring in small businesses and more jobs.

I am one of the many people in this country gravely concerned about the future. It seems we are doing everything wrong. Massive Federal debt, skyrocketing tuition and healthcare costs, and a disastrous public education system are killing the next generation. The ineptitude and lack of urgency from leadership is disturbing. Many young people today are embracing socialism, essentially giving up on their own abilities and ambition. The Founding Fathers did everything they could to give us a foundation for freedom and prosperity. It’s up to we the people to build on that foundation or collapse from within.

James Kirk Wall

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