By Jayden M.
Do you like being exploited by the same few men who also conveniently own the majority of wealth in the United States? Then capitalism is right for you!
Although, I’m not sure anyone would answer yes to that question. After “the Great Resignation” began and unemployment rates spiked in early 2020 due to the pandemic, there’s been many phrases thrown around especially in the United States. “Just go to work”, “get a job”, “stop being lazy”, and more. But why would you want to “just go to work” if the CEO of the company you work at gets paid anywhere from 299 to 325 times more than you, when the company wouldn’t even survive without you? Why would you want to “get a job” if Wall Street bonuses alone are nine billion dollars more than the earnings of all full time minimum wage workers? (According to the Great American Lie)
Capitalism was once believed to be the best political/economic system according to the Center on Capitalism and Society because having many buyers and sellers in an economy would weed out unnecessary and wasteful business and resources. While this argument may have held up many years ago, it currently does not. Having little state or federal wide regulation over companies’ employee wages and practices allows for exploitation to occur in the workplace. While there is a federal minimum wage and federal laws regarding the treatment of employees, these are very loosely followed. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25, which is not a wage that anyone in the United States can comfortably live off of currently. Several large fast food and retail chains exploit their employees, especially if they’re young or an immigrant, possibly with a language barrier. According to Hofstra University, “proper remedies for employees who are victims of discrimination or unfair labor practices should include unconditional back pay and reinstatement, but courts have held that awarding such remedies to undocumented workers is contrary to immigration policy”.
According to Capitalist Economy, it was believed that if there were no monopolies in an economy, sellers would thrive due to having the ability to choose the cheapest prices from any business in the economy. While this is a benefit, practices similar to monopolies are still occurring during capitalism. Businesses that provide cheap prices for large amounts of products thrive in our economy, which takes out smaller businesses, leaving only the one company with the cheapest prices to reign supreme. However, other companies are not capable of providing cheaper prices than the reigning company because that company exploits their employees and pays them little to nothing, so they’d still make profit even if they sell products at cheap prices.
Also according to Capitalist Economy, Adam Smith, the forefather of capitalist thinking, believed that “...humans were self-serving by nature but that as long as every individual were to seek the fulfillment of her/his own self interest, the material needs of the whole society would be met”. While this statement was seemingly very wise several hundred years ago, the state of capitalism now involves people seeking unnecessary levels of fulfillment of their own self interest even if it means sacrificing the fulfillment of others’ self interest. The rich are finding ways to get out of paying taxes; they leave that to the poor. CEOs are finding ways to manipulate their employees into being paid the smallest possible wages so that the larger sums can overflow out of their own pockets. Billionaires like Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk for example, people who have the opportunity to nearly end world hunger, instead choose to continue to profit the most they possibly can off of other people. It’s those billionaires and the rest of the wealthy in the United States that manipulate the middle and lower classes into thinking that if they just work harder at their minimum wage job, they could also be rich like them someday. But, once we leave that mindset that's been ingrained into our heads, we can soon see that instead of seeking our individual fulfillment to meet material needs of the whole society, the right path is to seek fulfillment as a community for the community: otherwise known as socialism.