Food For Capitalist Thought

Despite where your politics may lie, on the left or the right, the same goal is generally in both forms. Both sides want to provide the highest standards of living and the opportunity for the happiest life achievable within the system. The difference is how the different sides of the spectrum approach this task.

In modern society one of the many debated issues is the role of education in the political system and whether it is a fundamental right or a achievement to be worked towards. It’s a no brainer that in capitalist society a college education is used to as a competitive edge in the job market for the field they chose to study; even though education can provide a fulfilling and happy life, today it is primarily used to get a decent job. One struggle with this reality is the issue of the lower class students being unable to attend college with as much ease as higher class students. If there’s two students with the same grade average and qualifications, but one’s dad is a plumber and the other is a successful business owner, undoubtedly the son of the business owner will be chosen.

Considering this issue, the capitalist mode of handling education truly makes no sense. Capitalism depends on the brightest and the most qualified to rise to the top and to produce what others cannot. If it’s only the rich getting into college and meeting the qualifications of employers then social and technological progress will be seriously crippled, even more than it already is. For the system to be the most honestly competitive and innovative then all members of society must be given an equal chance to compete. If wealth can only be acquired by those who already have an excess of it then we live in a modern oligarchy. An equal opportunity at an education would make it so the most gifted and talented members of society, despite their economic background, would rise to the top and continue to create.

With this proposal no longer would the son of the business owner trample the son of the plumber. The person that is most naturally talented and puts in the most effort towards their education would be rewarded for it, no matter what background they come from. Whether or not you agree with the fundamentals of capitalism, improving the system is a goal for both wings. Like it or not, with capitalism being the current system it is not vain to try and improve things.

This is not to say that college would be mandatory for everyone, no, far from actually. College does not suite everybody and some people don’t realize this until they are already enrolled. Many people are perfectly happy with joining the work force and living out an honest life. There is a sense of nobility in this.

The chance at education is something both left and the right should agree on. For right wingers it means a chance at fulfilling the true meaning of capitalism and for left wingers it means delivering a fundamental right to the people. The few middle and working class students that manage to enroll in a university are so buried in debt by the end it doesn’t matter what job they get with their degree. Despite what side of the politcal spectrum you may lie, providing an education can do no harm.

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22 thoughts on “Food For Capitalist Thought

  1. “If there’s two students with the same grade average and qualifications, but one’s dad is a plumber and the other is a successful business owner, undoubtedly the son of the business owner will be chosen.”

    Aside from our college and university system largely being hostile to capitalism, I doubt the basic premise, as stated in this quote. I’d be interested in a source to back up this claim – even for a tiny fraction of all institutions

    As for huge student debt, yes, it’s a big problem, which I think largely is related to the government’s intentionally lax credit standards and credit availability policies. But again, that’s not capitalism.

    I can remember hearing the phrase, “Working your way through college,” but that is a concept all but dead today. Instead, we can observe more of the socialist “entitlement” mentality – let somebody else pay for what I want.

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  2. I think the problem with politics today is that the very basic tools to a fulfilling life (decent living, education, and work) have been reduced to possibilities. They need not be mere possibilities, they need to be real, tangible deliverables, in terms of rights. The object of democracy is self-government, putting common welfare (not privilege) in the hands of our elected leaders; assigning them responsibility for our well-being. And unless they deliver, the political system is a failure.

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    • I agree. I also feel like many Americans are beginning to realize this and change their views accordingly. Of course there will always be different opinions and sadly misinformation/propaganda in the media to counteract this. But coming out of the era of neo-conservatism I believe we are heading to a social consciousness.

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  3. I must say, I do believe it is in society’s best interest if everyone is guaranteed an education in whatever field they show an aptitude for. If my neighbor was born with a knack for chemistry, then he should be given the tools to go into that field, professionally, so that he can provide quality services to the public. The real problem I see is in determining what everyone’s aptitudes are in order to provide the right education to the right people. After all, if that same chemistry genius neighbor of mine is pushed into architecture, a field that he is not naturally gifted, then it really does no one any good.

    This is where I think capitalism has been able to provide a solution through the student loan system. If you are personally confident that you are good at something, you can bet on yourself by taking out a student loan for college in that field. If you bet wisely, you will come out of school with a job that pays well enough for you to pay that loan back. If, however, you bet poorly, you end up saddled with an astronomical loan and no way to pay it back. Now, if we could just keep people from making the mistake of taking out a huge loan to get a degree in a field that they will end up not performing well in or will just not be happy with for long enough to stick it out and make the money back.

    Don’t get me wrong, I do not think this is a perfect system, but I understand how it came into being. Maybe it would work better if there were an agency dedicated to finding gifted individuals and setting them up with grants to get the right education. We already have this going on to some degree, as there are tons of scholarships floating around, but we could probably use more of it.

    I totally agree that we should be making more efforts to get the right education to the right people, as long as we do not end up with a system that blindly guarantees a tax payer funded education in any field to any person. I have heard horror stories about Brazil, where they offer unlimited higher education to everyone at free universities. There is apparently a sizable percent of the population that is just perpetually in school and never bothers to use that education in a career. When society pays for your school, if you cannot repay society by using it in a job, then you are taking advantage of your neighbors and friends who funded your education.

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  4. Reblogged this on My Thoughts on How to Make This Place Better and commented:
    I must say, I do believe it is in society’s best interest if everyone is guaranteed an education in whatever field they show an aptitude for. If my neighbor was born with a knack for chemistry, then he should be given the tools to go into that field, professionally, so that he can provide quality services to the public. The real problem I see is in determining what everyone’s aptitudes are in order to provide the right education to the right people. After all, if that same chemistry genius neighbor of mine is pushed into architecture, a field that he is not naturally gifted, then it really does no one any good.

    This is where I think capitalism has been able to provide a solution through the student loan system. If you are personally confident that you are good at something, you can bet on yourself by taking out a student loan for college in that field. If you bet wisely, you will come out of school with a job that pays well enough for you to pay that loan back. If, however, you bet poorly, you end up saddled with an astronomical loan and no way to pay it back. Now, if we could just keep people from making the mistake of taking out a huge loan to get a degree in a field that they will end up not performing well in or will just not be happy with for long enough to stick it out and make the money back.

    Don’t get me wrong, I do not think this is a perfect system, but I understand how it came into being. Maybe it would work better if there were an agency dedicated to finding gifted individuals and setting them up with grants to get the right education. We already have this going on to some degree, as there are tons of scholarships floating around, but we could probably use more of it.

    I totally agree that we should be making more efforts to get the right education to the right people, as long as we do not end up with a system that blindly guarantees a tax payer funded education in any field to any person. I have heard horror stories about Brazil, where they offer unlimited higher education to everyone at free universities. There is apparently a sizable percent of the population that is just perpetually in school and never bothers to use that education in a career. When society pays for your school, if you cannot repay society by using it in a job, then you are taking advantage of your neighbors and friends who funded your education.

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    • I agree with your opinions to an extent, but I wholly respect them. And yes, college is seen as an investment. The idea is that for other people to pay taxes and provide the opportunity for a higher education and in return that person will provide benefits to society through his/her chosen field. However I see the issue of student loans a little differently. Most people that go through college need to take out some sort of student loan in the process to make ends meet, and in my experience most people do realize that they will be able to pay them back. It’s just the amount of time that it will take to pay them back that scares them. And I do agree with your point on the gifted student agency. I don’t know if you like satire or not, but the Onion did a clever article on the topic.
      http://www.theonion.com/article/10th-grade-prodigy-studying-mathematics-at-10th-gr-37438

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  5. Our experience seems to me, to suggest that we can have our choice of quality or quantity in education. Competitive, elitist systems in Europe and Asia have, like cost-filtered ones in the US (where working one’s way through college was once a stereotype) sooner or later been politically prostituted in one way or another. We seem forced to choose either quality or quantity to start and we seem usually to end with quantity either way. Attended by mediocrity. Humanity is a wonderful thing … except for the damn people!

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  6. [Sorry for the overwhelming comment. I did not intend it to be this long. I thought I’d write a couple paragraphs in response, but I started typing, kept typing, then realized I had enough for a decent post for my own site, so I kept going. So over on my page, shortly, this will be its own post, edited a bit, and will include links and references if you’re interested.]

    My thoughts on some of this…I would first encourage everyone to broaden your ideas of what education is. Education should not just be thought of as classroom learning, government schools, colleges, tests, certificates, etc. Education can be a lot of things, and every individual in society ideally should encourage this and help promote a variety of ways to learn, gain skills, and seek self knowledge. This could be reading books, traveling, tinkering, self directed learning projects, apprenticeships, internships, on the job learning and training,combination skills/theory programs, entrepreneur courses, online classes, and a lot of other things I’m not thinking of or don’t exist yet.

    When we think of education in only one paradigm as a public good that “we” need to divvy out in a certain way, it sort of distorts what learning is. The implication is that education is something that is done to you, rather than you doing it. Genuine learning is something that is self directed. We learn best when we have an interest and we pursue it in some way. Also, this could happen for everyone at different times. We all learn differently and develop at different rates. Some might be ready at 16 to go start a little business, or work for someone. Some might do better in a longer structured academic setting. Some might goof off til they’re 30, then finally find their calling or interest, which might or might not include formal school. So society’s insistence that kids “stay in school” until 18, then all get funneled into some “higher” education at the same time, might not be the best thing to push for everyone.

    Also, it’s important to sort of question the notion of “getting an education” so that “you’re qualified” for some job slot, and are given the official license and certificate that says you’re good at and allowed to do that job category. Maybe things can be done differently. Maybe how we determine who is qualified for positions could be done differently. Maybe someone without any training or certification at all might be better in a particular job than someone with the formal education for it. And maybe we need to get away from trusting traditional systems to sort all of this out. What I mean is, often there are barriers to entry for most professions or for starting a business that are just artificial constructs by the powers that be and vested interests in various industries. The biggest impediment to starting a business for example probably isn’t that potential entrants don’t have money or education.

    To illustrate this at the most basic level, a completely broke, poor, young, and uneducated person (a small child) can’t even open up a lemonade stand or mow lawns without running afoul of government laws and various business restrictions; and that trend continues throughout life and through all industries. Laws that limit food trucks are often proposed and favored by brick and mortar restaurants. Laws that limit uber and lyft are favored by taxi companies and unions. Laws for licensure and accreditation are not always promoted to raise standards, but are actually favored by the existing firms and vested interests in that industry because it keeps new competitors out of the market. Minimum wages are not always pushed to raise wages for everyone. It’s often favored again by existing firms, unions, vested interests, etc. – because it keeps out new employees, often new employees who might be willing to take the job for a lower rate than the existing ones (but now no one can hire anyone at a lower rate, creating more unemployment for the poor and uneducated.) Some regulations for safety or higher standards might not really be about higher standards. Often the biggest corporations, with the help of lobbyists and government, create certain rules that those biggest firms have no problem dealing with, but their smaller competitors, with smaller economies of scale, will have a much harder time with, and might go out of business. End result of all of this is more consolidation and centralization centered on government and the largest most corrupt businesses.

    The second big point I would make is to question what we think capitalism is, as we each use the term. The problem is, everyone uses that term, but everyone has a different definition of what it is. It becomes a catch all phrase. The “right” uses it as a catch all positive term, like “our merican capitalist system is strong, blah blah blah”. Most everyone else uses it as a catch all phrase to point out anything they don’t like about the current system, just using one word to encapsulate all the problems.

    Everything that was described in the article and in my comment so far is most definitely not capitalism in the classical sense. I don’t typically try to use or revive the word since it has been so corrupted. To get across my meaning of the word I use free society, markets, voluntaryism, anarchism, etc. In the classical sense, capitalism is these things. It is equal opportunity for everyone. It is those who earn and deserve success getting it.

    All the wrongs that people point out about our economy are not just not outgrowths of capitalism; They are the antithesis of free markets. All of the things people dislike about this system, would not actually be possible in a genuine, free market and free society. All of the things people fear would happen in a free market are in fact results of the market not being free in the first place.

    Examples…Market manipulation, special privileges for corporations (in fact the entire concept of corporations, since it is a government created entity), tax loopholes for certain interests, inability to just work hard, be honest, and jump into starting a business or working in an industry. Yes, even high tuition rates; as government continues to subsidize college, colleges in turn keep raising rates because they have a guaranteed flow of new customers, who they know will keep paying the higher rates since government keeps subsidizing loans and mandating that they’re easier to get. Inflation, rising prices; restrictions on trade, wages, hiring, starting businesses. Favoritism, nepotism, and undue privileges. Restrictions, high costs of education, and other things that would make success possible; in a free market there would be a thousand different avenues to success and without the state/academic/corporate behemoth controlling learning, as I mentioned towards the beginning, there could be countless ways to learn and become skilled, and businesses would be fighting to provide these services at lower and lower prices, for in the absence of the state and the artificial economy, prices can work; supply and demand can work – what we want will become cheaper, not more expensive. In a free society where government “schooling” isn’t compulsory, young people can start to learn and mature into their full potential much earlier if they’re ready for it. Right now the primary education that everyone thinks is a right, is forced, controlled indoctrination during the prime years of learning and exploration, and children learn very little that prepares them for the real world. They learn to take standardized tests to get into another school where they take more tests.

    These are all symptoms of a system where there is a monopolistic 500-pound gorilla in the room: the state, working hand in hand with banks, the media, and all of the largest corporations to work towards their own ends, at the expense of all of us.

    In the article you say “Capitalism depends on the brightest and the most qualified to rise to the top and to produce what others cannot.” This isn’t necessarily always true. This is a sort of caricature of capitalism that its opponents have created to make it out like its “dog eat dog”, or some evil system of social darwinism. “Capitalism” doesn’t depend on anything. A free market isn’t a thing. Its not even a system. It is not something that needs to be managed and controlled. Classical capitalism simply implies that we as individuals own ourselves, our property and the products of our labor, and that we are free to choose what we do with them. There is no implication or advocacy for control of economies, exploitation of workers, monopolization of resources, etc. Again, the negative aspects of the economy that people associate with capitalism are a result of capitalism not being capitalism anymore; of society and the economy no longer being free; and of the joining up and collusion between power hungry people in government and business.

    In other words, the capitalism that its real advocates are for is not the capitalism that its opponents think they’re fighting against. They’re fighting against cronyism and fascism. We’re fighting that too, and we’re fighting for voluntary, peaceful, free exchange of goods, labor, ideas, and services. We’re fighting for a free society without arbitrary restrictions, monopolized violence, or institutionalized corruption and control.

    Its not taught or widely known, but before the state starting taking over every function of private society, people did help each other, people did care about their communities, people did succeed to the extent that they deserved it. Anyone could gain an education (though not necessarily from an academic institution) and succeed, and with few barriers, anyone, regardless of their starting point, started businesses left and right. If we want to use the term, this is the capitalism that I advocate – a free society, but specifically voluntaryism and agorism. And in these schools of thought there are thriving discussions of systems of mutual aid, decentralized solutions, business ideas to revolutionize the way we provide goods and services to society. They’re discussing alternative forms of law and governance; free and open money and markets without the influence of the FED or wall street; voluntary cooperatives to provide health care and other services; alternative forms of education like free online learning, traveling, thinking and working outside of borders, unschooling, and more. They’re working on ways to rekindle community through local decentralized ideas like “free tiny libraries”, home or neighborhood gardens, local markets, and alternative business models that don’t involve getting state benefits of a corporation or of IP protection of anything else. This is the free market we advocate. We are against what passes today for the market.

    After all, a businessman in the classic sense does what he does to provide a good or service to customers who have a demand for his product. He works to improve his quality, retain the best workers through good pay, and improve efficiency to bring down prices over time. The modern so called “capitalist” businessman is nothing like this though. This modern capitalist is an outgrowth of the state; he grew as the state grew. They are connected, linked, and share a symbiotic relationship with each other, while they both have a parasitic relationship to us. Many of these modern businessmen of the last hundred years or so – seek to get laws passed for themselves, seek to get exceptions for their benefit, seek to work the revolving door between government regulators and corporate executives. Rather than being honest in their dealings, they seek to get government to help them cover up their misdeeds, and government is more than willing because a problem in business would point to their own lack of “oversight”.

    We have never seen classical capitalism, or a free market, not now, not anywhere in the world, not in America through its entire existence. It started off closer in that direction, hence the American boom of the 1800s and the countless examples of immigrants pouring in and starting businesses left and right. Notice I said closer. There were obvious exceptions (slavery and others), but it was closer. This was promptly halted by 1913 though. Within a couple of years there, we get the Federal Reserve takeover of the economy, government’s takeover of all of our money with the income tax, and the beginning of the modern war fare state, all of which still dominate our lives and the economy today. So call it what it is. Its fascism – not the absolute control of the economy by the state like communism, but the direct interconnection between the two, with corrupt business and corrupt (though I’m redundant here) government working together and feeding off each other to dominate.

    This is important to me and should be important to everyone, because as long as everyone is railing against the system, in terms of it being “capitalist”, the cronies, oligarchs, bureaucrats, politicians, and bankers are cheering you on, laughing all the way to the bank, as they continue to centralize power and control, and further manipulate society and the very meaning of the language we use.

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