For my first interview, I decided to talk to a college-educated woman in her 50s. She has no background in economics, is a history and English double major, and grew up as a military brat. When I asked her the initial questions of “How do you define capitalism,” she was worried that all the questions would be difficult. However, she could answer all the questions with ease, and they all had a central theme: capitalism needs to change to make it work.
After claiming that all my questions for her were going to be difficult, she answered the first question with no issues. Instead of giving a straight textbook answer, the interviewee said, “Capitalism is a free market society that doesn’t always benefit society as a whole.” Here, she shows more of her personal opinions on capitalism while also defining it. She continues, “Without safety nets, some citizens will fall through the cracks. Profits are more important than people in pure capitalism.” After the first question, I saw how the rest of the interview might go given her stance on capitalism. However, the next question showed how complicated her relationship with capitalism is.
I decided to ask her, “How has capitalism affected your life,” next. What she answered surprised me. She explained, “I make my living off of capitalism. . . .” Her answer threw me off for someone critical of capitalism in the first question. She finished the question with, “But I’m also subject to the whims of people like Bezos because I make my living off of Amazon.” While she works with capitalism for a living, she is still critical about how this system works.
I then decided to ask her how she felt about other economic systems. She answered, “Communism has failed in a lot of ways. I prefer socialism with a side of capitalism. Capitalism can work in some ways but only if it is constrained.” This answer led me to my next question about capitalism’s positive and negative aspects. She explained, “I can give some people the ability to pull themselves up out of poverty. If there’s no government oversight or they can influence that, working-class people find it hard to earn a living wage. They [billionaires] see their profits as more important than humans.” The interviewee believes that reform is the only way capitalism can work in society. If there is no reform, then society will suffer. The interviewee implies that change needs to happen for capitalism to work in our society.
For my final question, I asked the interviewee, “Do you find capitalism to be effective?” Like most of her answers, she implies the need for change. She explained, “It’s so corrupt these days. Corruption is rampant in capitalism, and without some government oversight, it runs amok. Therefore, pure capitalism can’t benefit society.” Once again, she exhibits her stance on capitalism. Capitalism needs to change so that society is benefited. Whether that be more government interference or a change in how our economy is structured, capitalism needs to benefit everybody.
The interviewee had a pretty good idea of her understanding of capitalism and her stance on how it works in society. While she is not involved in economics, she gave intelligent answers that helped me understand how some people might see capitalism in our country. I wonder if the following two people I interview will have some of the same answers or a completely different stance on capitalism.