Today I interviewed a 37-year-old, single male who works as a manager of a local pet store. He has never attended college and considers himself to be an avid reader. He also loves to listen to NPR podcasts and to debate about social issues. These are the highlights of our interesting conversation about capitalism.
What does capitalism mean to you?
“Capitalism is an economic system where the government is “hands off” or something like that. There isn’t a cap on how much you can profit, and you don’t have to share with those less fortunate than you, but you might get a tax break if you do! A big part of capitalism is that you’re supporting the economy by exchanging goods and services for money.”
What is your role in capitalism?
“Since I work in retail, I provide merchandise for people to buy while also earning profits for my employer who pays me a set salary. Outside of my job I buy and consume goods, and I take my dog to the vet, so I keep the money exchange thing going. Everyone does unless you live off the grid.”
Do you think that you could survive living off the grid?
“Uh, maybe for a few days? I need the internet and I have no idea how to grow my own food ha-ha. We’ve gotten spoiled in the 21st century I suppose.”
Do you think that capitalism is beneficial to your life?
“I think so. I don’t know anything else besides capitalism, so I don’t know if another system would benefit me more. Living in a commune doesn’t sound appealing ha-ha.”
How do you think that capitalism impacts the economy?
“The constant exchange and circulation of money between businesses and consumers is what keeps the economy up. The economy does well if everyone contributes and participates.”
How do you think capitalism has changed over time?
“Yeah, I think so. The internet has changed everything.”
How do you think that the internet has changed capitalism?
“You can do business overseas so easily now. I can buy snacks from Japan with a click of a button. That was not a possibility 50 years ago.”
How do you think that capitalism interacts with the media?
“Marketing is everywhere! You can’t go two minutes without seeing or hearing something or someone trying to sell you something. Social media, TV, apps, magazines, the radio, like the list is infinite. Even my favorite unpopular podcasts are getting sponsors now and trying to sell me something!”
Do you think that’s a bad thing?
“No, not necessarily. If I had a business, I would try to get the word out there too to attract new customers, but it is kind of overkill sometimes. Like do I like something? Or did I hear from an ad several times saying that it’s great so now I think that it’s great? You just have to turn the noise off sometimes.”
My interviewee has a pretty good grasp of what capitalism is and how it impacts the economy. His interest in politics leads him to read a lot of articles and books about different issues that are going on in the world. His comment about the internet was poignant because I hadn’t stopped to think about how that had impacted capitalism until he pointed it out. The internet really has broken down many barriers to allow global trade to happen so easily now.