Comment on capitalism

By Ralph Wallace | Jul 25, 2019

I am not a member of the “one percent.” Not even close. I grew up in a solid middle-class family, got a job when I was a high school junior working on dangerous log booms at the oceanfront, and paid my way through college. I became a teacher, married, raised a family, attended church, and did volunteer work in my community. All in all, I think my developmental background was pretty plain vanilla.

Now, to my topic at hand. At no time did I ever feel a raging envy toward those people who enjoyed a better material life than I had. I still do not. I knew that, if I worked hard and led a clean life, I had a good shot at attaining my goals. My goal was not to be a successful business tycoon with a corner office in a New York tower. However, I did not for a moment begrudge those who did. On the contrary, I was grateful that there was the kind of person who excelled in industry, made the investment of time and money necessary, and had the entrepreneurial skill to create a business environment that allowed me to participate while pursing my own dreams. If I did have any “rage,” it was reserved for those who always felt they were owed something by business or the government. I believed that we should all have the same opportunity to achieve, but we did not have the right to expect the same results.

An early experience in the labor world had a profound impact upon me. While in college, I had a summer job as a warehouse man driving a forklift. After a week on the job, I was told by the union steward that I was working too quickly. Naively, I told him I did not understand what he meant. He quickly educated me – if everyone worked at my pace, there would not be enough work for all the forklift drivers. Management would see that the work could be done by fewer drivers and there would be resultant layoffs. I am sorry, but my sympathy did not go to the drivers who needed featherbedding to keep their jobs. Rather, my sympathy went to the owners who created the company which provided the jobs for workers who somehow felt it was OK to game the system. If that makes me a capitalist, so be it.

I lament that a sizeable number in the population today do not have this respect for the way of life that has been the bedrock for the success of our country. Quite simply, we enjoy a quality of life that is the envy of the world – and the foundation of that condition is capitalism. There are those who disagree. Incredibly, they believe that business is inherently evil, and that it “lives off the backs of workers.” These people also believe that those who work hard and achieve their deserved results somehow owe others who do not. Recently, this idea found its epitome in the Democratic proposal that a "wage" should be provided to those who actually choose not to work! That former union steward of mine would be ecstatic – the government would be gaming the system for him.

Socialism is a direct attack on our quality of life. It is a real threat. We are now beyond attacking socialism with jokes such as Margaret Thatcher’s, “Socialism is a wonderful concept – until you run out of other people’s money.” Frankly, we are at a point where we need to look around us, take stock of how far we have come in this country, discern our own personal capitalist accomplishments, and proclaim them far and wide.

Here is mine. I loved teaching. It was an honor and a privilege to engage with the development of young students. I also grew to admire my bosses -- principals who had the ability to encourage and stimulate me to improve my teaching. I determined to become that kind of school principal. Later, I had the great fortune of working for a superintendent who was truly an inspiring educator. Sadly, I recently gave a eulogy at his funeral. This wonderful man inspired me to achieve my own superintendency. In the autumn of my years, it is my fervent hope that I have contributed to the capitalism of our country, not only by my story, but my commitment to proclaiming its value.

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Comments (2)
Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Jul 29, 2019 11:01

Mr Wallace more likely than not belonged to a teacher's union at one time. I believe the story about the warehouse union shop steward, but that was never the intended purpose of collective bargaining. Like most things in America, greed ruined a good thing. What happened to a fair days pay for a fair days work. I've worked both union and non-union jobs. I worked just as hard and diligently for both. When I worked union I knew what I was getting unlike working non-union retail where the help on the floor lose benefits so stock holders and managers can get bonuses. What I see now in the labor force is about fifteen percent of workers have a good work ethic and from there it goes down hill. Most of us just want to live comfortably. How much money is enough? Don't ask  one-percenter because they don't know

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Jul 28, 2019 18:13

Sure, we can talk it to death. How about getting out there on the front lines and making a difference in the lives of those placed in your path. Guaranteed to leave you; and them; feeling better when you part or we will gladly refund your misery. ;)

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