For my second interview, I interviewed an older white man in his 50s. He is college-educated with a degree in finance (for this interview, I will be referring to the interviewee as LS). He retired as a Major in the Air Force and now works as a team leader in a grocery store’s produce department. Along with working currently in a grocery store, LS worked in a grocery store and insurance before joining the military. I asked LS a series of six questions to reveal his understanding of capitalism and how it works in today’s society. His answers also revealed his understanding of how capitalism changed over time and generations.
How do you define capitalism?
LS: I define it as all the factors (political, social, economic) that come together that make business work. Not only in our country, but also in the global markets.
How do you think capitalism impacts the economy?
LS: There’s good capitalism and bad capitalism. If there are people taking advantage of capitalism, especially with wealth, it can affect other people in the economy that do not have that advantage.
How do you see yourself in a capitalist society?
LS: Well, I am definitely seen as a “cog” in society to advance my family, work, and others in doing what I do. But my inputs have an effect on others (coworkers), good and bad.
What do you think of other economic systems other than capitalism?
LS: Well, I know that in other countries that other systems work for them based on their circumstances, but just like in capitalism, a small percentage take advantage while other people suffer. However, there are good aspects to those other systems just like with capitalism.
How do you see people’s views of capitalism being generationally different?
LS: So, I know different generations have different work ethics, different goals, and different means to meet those goals.
What do you think are some positive aspects of capitalism? Negative aspects?
LS: Positives of capitalism are that everyone has an opportunity to be successful from hard work and opportunities as well. Negative, there are certain people, classes of people, different situations, race, economical circumstances, that capitalism limits opportunities for. Opportunities are not fair across the board.
Even though I know LS very well, I was surprised by many of his answers. I had always known him to be more conservative when it came to economics, given his finance degree, so him saying that there are issues with capitalism took me aback. He seems to understand capitalism as a necessary evil. While he defined capitalism as “all factors that come together to make business work,” he also sees issues that arise from having this as our economic system. Working in a grocery store was a significant influence on LS’s answers. He sees himself as a “cog” in the system and sees his decisions affecting others he works with. Many of his coworkers are part-time, and he makes a great deal more money than them. As seen in the second question, LS sees capitalism as only working for a small group of people. His coworkers are more disadvantaged than he is, and he sees how it affects them. While LS sees capitalism as a necessity to advance business, he is also aware that people have fewer opportunities than he has.