Capitalism: Yay or Nay?

During the interview process I came across many answers to the same questions. My three interviewees were taken from all walks of life, different ages, and education levels, lines of work, sexes and even variant citizenships. What struck me as strange though was not the different answers they came up with, but how similar some of these answers were.

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Not Necessarily Natural

FA is a 31 years old male from Brazil. He is currently in the process of becoming a permanent resident of the United States and will eventually become a U.S. citizen. He identifies himself as a Latin American. FA has an MBA and is the Practice Manager for Application Development at his company, which in other words means that he manages software development projects. FA currently would classify himself as middle class or upper middle class. Growing up in Brazil, his family was lower middle class.

How would you define capitalism?

An open market to all different organizations or individuals with an aspiration to prosper. It’s an open window to anyone who wants to maximize their gains. I think that there are a lot of things related to capitalism, like political policies and governments that will try to control aspects of the market. Governments will interfere with extreme capitalism and other governments will avoid capitalism to provide equal share to people.

How has capitalism been taught to you at different levels of your education?

I learned about capitalism in history classes in high school and middle school. Teachers would talk about different governmental systems. So capitalism was taught to us as a way that governments would dictate how companies and individuals would develop the market or economy in that region. Basically I was taught how the different forms of capitalism compared to each other. How capitalist in Brazil compared to the extreme capitalism in States and the socialist capitalist in Europe.

We also learned how capitalism evolved through supply and demand. How it  comes with a sense of supply and demand.

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“I Couldn’t Imagine any other System”

DR is a 63 year old male. He is white/Caucasian and is a native born American. He completed three years of college but never graduated. DR is an Iron worker and has been in the construction business for 30 plus years. He owns his own small rebar business and works throughout the state of Virginia. DR identifies himself as part of the middle class, at best.

How has capitalism been taught to you at different levels of your education?

I guess in high school it was just the history of capitalism. The Rockefeller and Carnegies and the rise of the Unions.

I can’t really remember learning about it in college but I imagine it was the history again and alternatives to capitalism.

Was this an economic course or a history course?

It was macroeconomics in college and history in high school.

How would you define capitalism?

A system by which people can pursue a profession/trade where they can make a profit. A system where there are many opportunities for freedom of movement between socioeconomic statuses and lines of business. It’s basically economic freedom.

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A Natural Fit

For my first interview I chose to question someone who is similar to myself. TS is a good friend of mine. We have been friends since middle school, and share many experiences and beliefs. TS is a 24 year old middle school teacher. She was raised by her mother who had her at age 19. Given the struggle her family initially had with finances, TS has a positive opinion of capitalism. She sees herself as embodying the “American Dream.” She is a first generation college student and paid her way through college with loans, and various jobs. TS admits to not knowing much about the economy but is a highly active participant in it, she openly refers to herself as a “shopaholic.”

Given the nature of the questions this interview entailed, I thought a good first question would be…

What is the definition of Capitalism?

It is a free market. The government butts-out and the economy runs itself.

How has Capitalism affected you personally?

Well I’m a consumer.  When things go wrong in the economy or the government steps-in, these factors affect the price of products I buy.

What are some alternatives to Capitalism?

There are no alternatives. (Jokingly)  Well I don’t know, I suppose socialism is an alternative. A government run economy. But we all know that doesn’t work.

How do you think social issues are affected by capitalism?

Well, being a teacher, this question immediately brings to mind the issue of education. We should have a capitalistic approach to education. There needs to be less government regulation to allow educators to create a curriculum to fit the needs of the students and society.

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