What I Don't Like About Capitalism Part II

The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Poorer

August 09, 2018

This post is part of a series: Part I, Part II

Another thing I don’t like about capitalism is that the rich get richer. Capitalism provides opportunity to create your own destiny, I don’t want to discredit that over other systems, but I would guess the number of success stories is heavily outweighed by the number of people punished by income insecurity.

  • Got money to pay your bills, buy food, even some for discretionary spending?
    • YES: Great. Get a credit card to get more purchasing power!
    • NO: A single unexpected expense (e.g. breakdown, hospital visit) could wipe you out. So you get a credit card…
  • Able to pay your credit card bill?
    • YES: Great. You have access to more credit and actually get cash back from the bank.
    • NO: Get hit with fees, interest and debt snowballs, and you’re cursed with bad credit.
  • Do you have good credit?
    • YES: Nice job paying back that credit card. You get a low interest rate and can buy a better home in a better neighborhood.
    • NO: You have trouble leasing a good apartment.
  • Did you find a nice neighborhood to buy a home?
    • YES: Better neighborhood, better schools, better grades, and access to better colleges.
    • NO: It’s hard to break out of your income level, poverty can be generational.
  • Did your kids go to college?
  • Did you invest that extra money?
    • YES: Eventually your compound interest contributes more than you can contribute, creating more wealth.
    • NO: What extra money? Your retirement savings dwindles putting a financial burden on your family.

I’ve seen first hand these expenses pile up on people. It’s an inescapable prison. Compound this over a few generations and the disparity is alarming. Not to discount gumption and hard work, but as you can imagine, your ability to climb the mountain depends on the depth of the hole you were born in.

SPENT is a really great Poverty Simulator game that I routinely replay. It may seem trite or designed to be too difficult… but it’s not. A single expense can wipe you out. More money is a necessary, but a temporary, fix.

It’s not immoral per say, but it’s disconcerting that Capitalism doesn’t seem to serve those who need it the most. “The System” is setup to benefit the rich way more than it does the poor. Rich people pay lobbyists and representatives to enact legislation that benefits them. Rich people don’t need more yachts. But poor kids need nutritious food, toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, etc.

Conservative Republicans are typically pro-business. Pro-business is good. Businesses create work. Let’s have more of that. But the manifestation from the policy and tax loopholes creates dramatic Wealth Inequality in the United States. Very clearly the rich are getting richer.

For an example look no further than billionaire Jeff Bezos, who after paying workers sub-standard wages and decommissioning the local main street has concluded “the only way that I can see to deploy this much financial resource is by converting my Amazon winnings into space travel.” The … only … way? Far be it from me to discourage space travel, but I find it patronizing to those employees who created his fortune.

In a world where most Americans can’t even absorb a $500 expense, this seems like an gross injustice.

Furthermore, Republicans to cater to this 0.1%. There has been a lot of policy enacted to serve these hundred families over the hundred million families in America. The oligarchs in turn reward them by filling up their Super PAC political war chests. Betsy DeVos, political donor with no experience in Education and now Secretary of Education, infamously said in her congressional hearing, “I expect to get a return on my investment.”

On a personal level, what gets me the most is that I am currently benefitting from this system. I’ve saved up and invested enough extra money that it’s generating income by itself.

In evangelical circles, I often heard mystical biblical justification like “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones” (Luke 16:10) in terms of accumulation of wealth and blessings. But rich people do terrible things (like treason) all the time and are somehow rewarded for it. Or they somehow avoid prosecution. Justice.