Investing, money

Ich bin ein Capitalist

I’ve been a capitalist from a very young age.   I had a paper route when I was 11 years old and a bank account even longer.  I’d save up my earnings from allowance and odd jobs to buy things big things… a pellet gun or even an ATV.

I’ve worked either a “real job” or summer job since I was 16.   I’ve degreased deep fat fry filters, changed industrial light bulbs and ballasts, cleaned up manure, supervised inmates, helped survey roads and building sites, painted walls, and written software.  All that just and more in high school and college.

When I finally got a “real job” (e.g. one that utilized my four-year degree) I was taken aback by the paltriness of my first paycheck.  OMG, I’ve paid taxes on $5- to $12-dollar- an-hour jobs, but suddenly taking home only 60 percent of my salary.   Not all of that missing 40% was taxes.  Some was medical and dental insurance premiums.  But between state, federal, Social Security and Medicare 30% of my check was just — POOF! — gone.

Once I got done with all the swearing, months later, I started to investigate where all my money was going.   On the state level it was pretty obvious.  Schools, colleges, roads, infrastructure, police, fire dept., etc.  Actually the state stuff all seemed pretty reasonable.

At the federal level not so much.  What do you mean a big part of Social Security dollars aren’t going to recipients nor are they being invested either?  Its being spent on other stuff?  Other than the Interstate system, National Parks, and defense where do I get squat that actually helps me or any of us working folks?!   Ah, but I digress.

Capitalism has been getting some flack in the press and the political circuit the last several years.  There is even talk about the failure of the capitalist system during the “Great Recession of 2008”.    I do like the term Great Recession and I think its fairly apt.  Historically this recession is looking like a doozy.  With official unemployment flirting with 10 percent, and real unemployment/underemployment closer to 15% this one sucks.   However, it is a recession and not a depression and certainly not particular failure of capitalism.

Market cycles are perhaps a failing of capitalism but not a failure.   I ask you this:

Would you rather have up-and-down, dynamic system that generally goes up and creates all sorts of wonders in the process or a flatter, grayer system that goes nowhere and only creates malaise,  sameness, and despair?

While I am a capitalist I am not opposed to smart regulation.  Capitalism is one thing but capitalist anarchy is quite another.  Basic laws and rules are necessary and even beneficial to the long-term heath of the capitalist system.

Regarding the over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives market, I believe that legislation to shine some daylight could be very helpful.  I believe this OTC activity should be disclosed to the shareholders of public companies who participate in such trading.  The idea of a clearinghouse is even sensible.  Who is exposed to how much risk is a question that should be answered on at a least a quarterly basis.

So I’m a Capitalist.  Let me end by putting out some ideas where the US [government] is not being capitalist enough:

  • Making it illegal to buy prescription drugs from Canada?  That’s not free trade.  Let citizens buy whatever they want from whomever they want. Caveat emptor of course.
  • Marijuana is illegal?  While I don’t condone its use, wouldn’t a true capitalist society allow its sale and trade?  Imaging how much California, alone, could make by taxing the stuff?
  • “Scalping” tickets is illegal in some places?  Pul-leez people!  If enterprising people want to buy tickets and try to resell them for more so be it.  Sounds like capitalism to me.

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