BP is a 44-year-old woman who currently works at a fast-food chain at a managerial level. Her family is middle-class and she works, along with her husband, to pay for the costs of living. During most of her childhood, she lived in extreme poverty in a Central American country and immigrated to the United States at 18.
When asked to define capitalism, she was apprehensive and stated several times that she isn’t sure what it is. She finally pinned down her definition as “Rich people”. This connection to people who participate in the system and the system itself appears throughout the interview.
BP was then asked if she believed that capitalism is a natural order and said, “It is what it is, and there’s not much we can do about it. Everybody who has money probably earned it in some way, not all of them are fair but some of them are.”
She was then asked if she had ever considered another economic system and said no. As a follow-up, she was asked if she had ever thought about communism in the same way and was very confused. She explained her perspective as “they are not the same, what’s the relationship between capitalism and communism? There isn’t. To me, Communism is the guerilleros and that has nothing to do with capitalism.”
Her perspective on how she plays a role in capitalism and explained that “I’m a person that buys things. I participate I work at my job and they take from my hard work and I would love if they paid more for my hard work.”
When talking about the generational divide between her and her parents, she believed that there was no difference in her beliefs with both sides believing that they “went through hell in poverty.” Focusing on the concept of poverty she expressed that she does believe that poverty is an outcome of capitalism and that “the ones who had money never helped anyone.” She further elaborated that she did believe that those upper-class people were a creation of the system, and not necessarily the outcome of moral failings.
Focusing on the preservation of capitalism, BP explained that “there have always been people higher and people lower and I have always been lower and I am very tired of being lower.”
Closing out the interview she was asked if she liked capitalism and was quite enthusiastic about it; “It’s better now, before I had nothing . . . yes I am very appreciative of where I am and the economy I’m in.”
BP’s interview is interesting while she at times does not appreciate aspects of her position in capitalism, she firmly expresses that those problems are nothing compared to the extreme poverty she lived in before. She expresses that she hated the position she grew up in but also appreciates that she was able to move up economically.
Interestingly throughout her interview, she mentions people in higher economic classes and the inherent class divide between her and them. The focus of her answer was about the people who participate in the system rather than how the system functions. This was an interesting insight as it expresses how capitalism is still a system where people’s actions play into the existence and preservation of it.
It is interesting to talk with someone who lived in poverty for a large part of her life and is appreciative of her economic movement later in life. While she is at times critical of capitalism, especially when it comes to her work, she still expressed that she enjoyed purchasing what she wants and living in a secure living situation. As we closed the interview, she explained that she wanted was to move up higher economically but despite everything, she was very happy in capitalism.