Taken for Granted

JB is a is a 59 year old white woman. She graduated college with a degree in accounting and then attended law school. JB practiced law for almost 20 years and is currently a homemaker who is active in her church and community. After the interview, she told me that she doesn’t think about capitalism often, but she’s certain she would miss it if it were gone.

How would you define capitalism?
I suppose it’s the free market system and people being able to buy and sell and invest and whatnot without much government involvement.

What would you consider your relationship and personal experience with capitalism?
I know no other system, so it’s fine with me.

Can you think of any alternatives to capitalism? What do you think about them?
Communism, but I don’t think that communism would be a very good system. Is that even equal to capitalism? Isn’t [communism] a more general thing? I mean, I don’t think I would have wanted to live in Russia under a system like that where you have to wait 6 months for anything to get done, there’s no competition. You need competition, and communism does not work with competition.

How do you think Capitalism has influenced America’s past?
Well I suppose it has driven the American dream, it has motivated people to invest and invent and whatnot because they think they can profit under this system. It’s a motivator.

What do you think are Capitalism’s origins, here and in the world?
I have no idea. [laughs] I’ve never really thought about it, and I don’t really care. [laughs again]

How do you think social issues have been affected by Capitalism, now and in the past?
I’m sorry, but I don’t really have any thoughts on that.

How do you think Capitalism has changed over time?
In my lifetime, I don’t know that it has, and I don’t really know what exactly we’re talking about when we’re talking about “capitalism”. I mean, the markets come and go, up and down, and people pulling in their resources and pushing them back out, but that’s just the ebb and flow of the markets, I guess, but is that capitalism? The government seems to be screwing up the whole system right now with their artificially low interest rate, would that be a good example? The federal reserve has always regulated it, but this is really unheard of, what we’re doing right now. I used to be able to get 4,5,6,7 percent on cash… not any more!

Do you think capitalism is a natural fit for humans? Why or why not?
Yes, because it motivates you, it makes you do stuff.

How has capitalism been taught to you at different levels of your education?
I don’t recall it ever being taught to me… except it must have been taught to me in my college economics class. But heavens, no, I don’t remember it!

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