Today I interviewed a 44-year-old, married woman who is an office manager for an insurance agency. She has never attended college but prides herself on making it this far in her career without a degree. She works hard at her job and tries to be a good leader for her team. When asked what she would like for people to know about her she replied, “I hate politics, the gym, and bacon!” These are the highlights from our interesting conversation.
What does capitalism mean to you?
“It’s a free market. You’re free to start businesses, trade, sell, and earn as much as you want (taxed of course) without the government or a higher power orchestrating what happens out there in the market. It’s the land of opportunity, or whatever that quote is.”
What is your role in capitalism?
“I buy things and pay bills which supports other businesses. I work for an agency who exchanges my time and sanity for a set wage every year so that I can continue to spend my money.”
Do you think that capitalism is beneficial to your life?
“I like the idea of uncapped potential. I mean, if you have lots of excess, you should share with those who are less fortunate, but I don’t like the idea of the government determining how much I should share on top of taxes. What’s the point of working your butt off if you don’t get to enjoy the rewards?”
Are you comparing capitalism with socialism as an alternative?
“Yeah. Don’t you share everything in socialism? Universal healthcare, education, and housing? Everyone pays for everyone to have access to those things. It sounds nice in theory, especially if you’re poor, but it sounds expensive as well.”
How do you think that capitalism impacts the economy?
“The economy depends on people spending and investing their money. Jobs and businesses depend on it as well.”
How do you think capitalism has changed over time?
“It’s gotten easier to business with technology, I think. You can transfer money with a click of a button or a swipe of a credit card now. I don’t know how to write checks anymore! People seem to be more philanthropic now too. Lots of small businesses and big corporations all competing for your money. Insurance has definitely changed a lot in that aspect. “
“Insurance used to be small and local. It was a lot more personable. Now they can’t compete with these large companies who fluctuate rates based on the market and your credit score, and they have complicated algorithms to assess risk to get more money out of its customers. “
How do you think that capitalism interacts with the media?
“Like advertising? It’s crazy how much people spend to advertise and market their businesses. It works though! My employer spends a ton of money on marketing to bring in new policies every year. There is a lot of research that goes into how to grab people’s attention and get their buy in on what you’re selling in just a few seconds.”
Since my interviewee has worked in the business world for most of her adult life, she has a pretty good grasp on the motivations of capitalism. Her concept of what socialism entails is a bit fuzzier. When she thinks about capitalism over time, she compared it to a time before the internet when she had to write checks to pay for transactions instead of the bigger and longer picture, which I thought was interesting. The internet has come up in one of my previous interviews as well. Is the creation of the internet the pivotal moment when everything in our capitalist histories changed? The world seemed to be so much larger to me before the internet came and connected us all.