Thursday, November 9, 2006

Am I a Capitalist?

I just had a brief conversation with a colleague about how evil this capitalist system is.

Well, I don't agree in entirety. I don't agree the tool of currency is evil. Grant it, I do believe some insanely bad things have been done to the agreed value of LOTS of money.

I am actually glad that someone decided that non-material things also had value and that currency is an effecient system that allows people to carry value with them easily. It's also interesting how people have adapted to that.

So now if you're not a land owner with 7000 heads of cattle, you can still purchase clothes and goods and transportation and not barter for it. How much would you barter for an iPod? Your car? That PHRESH shirt you just got? How about a birthday cake? Or a chance to hike pristine trails in Utah?

If you're like me, your value is measured by how someone thinks of your non-tangible work. I know how to work with computers on some level, but I don't OWN any computers or manufacturing of computers or components.

An assessor would look at my collection of curios and clothes and cups and perhaps give me a couple of pidgeons in barter value. Not to say that pidgeons DON'T have value, but I doubt I could trade two birds for a week's worth of groceries or vitamins and supplements. I could be wrong...maybe they are valuable pidgeons...

Anyway, I ramble. I am glad that my work can be worth something I don't have to carry with me to prove my value. My working with youth and technology earns me a certain salary. BUT if it was all bartering, I don't know what my skills would earn me. I don't OWN anything to start creating things to BARTER with. I am GLAD my worth can be carried in my head and heart.

I don't have access to credit to expand my worth beyond what I earn except for cash advances and that expands my worth at a two week interval, so I am what I earn. And I reduce my debt at that earning rate and I purchase what I need within that window of earning. So I earn and spend within my means. I don't borrow extra pidgeons to buy a cloth for the week only to have to give six pidgeons back. (And would I breed those pidgeons to get the six pidgeons I needed to pay back?)

I'm all confused.

I felt like my coworker may have thought I bought into a system that says your worthless if you don't have assets. That's not true. I struggle with the idea of being worthless. I may be worth less than, say, Bill Gates, but I am really rich in relationships. I wouldn't barter those for Noah's Ark worth of pidgeons.

I also use my sweat equity wherever I can to experience that which I cannot pay for. With that I have earned river rafting, construction on solar housing, gained access to special events, AMAZING food, and a LOT of t-shirts. Sure, I'd love to convert some of my time into car repair or a hair appointment or a trip home every so often, but that's not how the bartering system works that I am aware of.

I need to do some research on economics and how we developed our money systems and agreed upon them. If anyone can recommend a book to explore this topic, I would LOVE it.

Til then, I am thankful that my ATM card links to my bank account and allows me to spend my Hamiltons without having to carry them all over the place with me.


Roger Williams said...

There is nothing at all "evil" about capitalism. If you can accept that it's about maximizing economic opportunity (not equalizing the results), you've made your peace with it.

Karen said...

Personally, the only capitalism that makes me choke is the capitalism that is bald-faced social Darwinism that then pretends to be all about bring freedom and opportunity to the masses. I think the Swedes have something good going on: capitalism tempered by a conscience and justice. But that's based on what I've read, so hopefully in the next couple of years I'll be able to hop up there and check things out for m'self.