American Society is Too Immature for Capitalism

While I drank my coffee this morning, I stumbled upon the above post in my Facebook feed. As the various commentators, myself included, argued the benefits of sharing verse stealing from one another, of which evidently socialism and taxation are forms, it became very clear to me that the issue at hand isn’t socialism vs. capitalism, but the very fact that Americans are children wanting to play with a very grown up idea, and failing miserably.

I love money. I’ve always loved money. I studied economics as my undergraduate electives and fell in love with money even more while pursuing my MBA in International Business. While I stuck with technology as a career, and then eventually homemaking, I continued my love of money, or more importantly, the story of money. I regularly read books written by economists just for fun. To me, money is beautiful, not because supply-side economics looks nice as an equation, but because money is the truest historian of humanity. Money is our scribe.

            If you want to know who you really are as a person, then study your bank statements. Where do you spend your money? Whom do you spend it on? Why? How do you feel about your purchases? How did you earn your money? How do you feel about that?  Do you ever take the time to think about this? If you do, you will know more about yourself than any shrink will ever tell you. Money never lies. Money is pure. Money will tell you the story of your heart.

            Go deeper, look at each purchase and ask, what’s behind it. What did it take for that car to be in your garage? What resources were needed? What amount of labor? Where was it built? Why do you need it? What does it say about you? The story of money is rich, and deep, and never, ever false. What you see might make you uncomfortable, but it’s still the truth of who you are as person, both emotionally and intellectually, at the time the money is spent.

            Follow the money and you shall know the truth.

            Money tells the story of our society. A peek at the government budget for the United States of America tells us who we are as Americans—fearful, warmongering, self-interested juveniles set on the acquisition and hording of money and profits at the expense of human lives. Why would I say that? Because any country that spends more than half of its resources on war is afraid. And people who are afraid don’t make very good capitalists.

            Capitalism is the golden jewel when it comes to money. Free trade allows humans to invest, invent and imagine. A strong merchant class allows the flow of information in and out of a society. A strong labor class allows for the creation of high quality products to improve the lives of the community. This ideally happens within the structure of freedom. The freedom to choose your craft or trade, the freedom to acquire capital and investments and the freedom to spend your money according to your values. When viewed this way, what could go wrong?

            There are three components to the creation of goods—raw materials, labor and capital. Where do we get our raw materials? From the earth. Where do we get our labor? From humanity and technology, which has been invented by humanity. And where do we get our capital? From banks, family members, profits, venture capitalists, Kickstarter campaigns, crowdfunding, rich guys with nothing better to do and the sale of stocks. When a human is empowered and living from a place of ingenuity, these three things are in balance. The higher the person or society moves up Maslow’s hierarchy, the clearer their thinking and the ability to plan long term kicks in. This is what capitalism requires—healthy adults who are secure enough to see the bigger picture and operate from a place where the relationships between raw materials (nature), labor (humanity) and capital (money) are in harmony. One is not focused upon to the detriment of the other.

            A person who lives in fear, who’s afraid of losing something, whether it’s their yacht, their stock options, their job, their house, their hot girlfriend, or even their national identity or status among peers, will not be able to keep the three in balance. And since capital eventually produces profits, which is what remedies the person’s fear and insecurities, then that is where the short term, fearful human will focus. How do I get more capital? How do I pay my investors and still make a buck? How can I implement a system of trade laws that maximizes capital so I can have never ending growth? This person will not consider what happens to nature when its resources are over-mined for production, nor what happens to their workers when benefits are reduced in order to increase the bottom line. Capitalism becomes CAPITALism.

            Many Americans claim the government should stay out of the economy. But yet when business leaders pay the government to create labor and environmental laws that enable them to make more money, that’s progress. Why? Why is it progress to operate from the mindset of a child? A toddler can’t understand why he needs to share. His parents show him that. Sharing isn’t about taking from the 1% and giving back to the 99%. It’s about implementing capitalism in a way that keeps all three things, nature, labor and capital in balance.

            And it takes an adult mentality to do that. America, unfortunately, doesn’t have what it takes. We’re the selfie-stick culture. The mine, mine, mine culture. The individual reigns supreme culture. America has become the place where adults think its fine to throw a tantrum in public because they’re tired of being politically correct. America is a place where on one hand, Donald Trump is a contender, and on the other Hillary Clinton deserves to be the president because she’d be the first female president, and she's wanted it all her life. Seriously? Donald Trump is the trope of our time and who cares if Hillary is female and has wanted to be president all her life? Both of these candidates soothe the American insecurity and fear of not being good enough.

             Which is a problem, because unruly children often require authority to behave, and historically authoritarianism is the opposite of freedom. So we're at an impasse--on the one hand we're a democracy that requires a capitalistic economy and on the other hand we still can't manage to stop bullying one another on the playground, which requires someone of a higher authority to step in and tell us how to behave.

            Capitalism requires a certain emotional and intellectual advancement from its people. Money itself has always required this from us. To me, money isn’t the root of all evil, it’s the refusal to grow up and see the connections between all of us that causes all the evil in the world. Money is just the messenger.

            And everyone knows you shouldn’t kill the messenger.