At eighteen, my vast knowledge of economics consisted of what you'd put on a simple 3x5 inch card.
Somewhere in my mid-thirties, I probably could have filled out one page on economics.
Today, I know enough from business journals, the hours in front of the business channel, hundreds of hours pouring over the Wall Street Journal.....to probably teach a class in economics.
To some degree, I've come to conclusions that probably would have disappointed me a decade ago. I am a capitalist by all nature of the word.....believing in a system that has no alternate replacement. I know the redistribution folks.....the anti-capitalists....are always huffing and puffing over the unfairness of life.
You see, I've come to realize over the years that pure capitalism died out years ago. We operate today with a hybrid system. It's not clean. It's not pure. It's....not really capitalism.
Capitalism survives off three pillars of faith (kinda like Christianity in some ways, the father, the son, and the Holy Ghost).
The first pillar? Private property. If you bought something....it's supposed to be yours. It's not supposed to be taken from you. We kinda treasured that act in the 1700s and the 1800s. Today? There are literally thousands of gimmicks rigged up.....to take your personal property away. Nothing you own today....is really yours. You may think the house is truly your property....or the farm.....or the car. Legal means exist for the city, the county, the state, and the federal guys to take your property.
The second pillar? Open markets. Prices and substance would determine what you make, how you profit, and the success of your operation. Basically, nothing today can be viewed as a open market. A guy could pay off some Senator, invent a rule to damage your production or limit your trade options, and you fail within a couple of years. Gimmicks.....as much as you hate to say it....rig the market place. You think it's open, but it's never really like the market place of the 1800s.
The third pillar? The rule of law is supposed to be fair and open. You operate under the rules, and you can predict outcomes easily. Under today's umbrella of law? Laws change yearly. Laws are generated, and tossed on top of other laws. You hire people to explain the laws, because they are too complicated for the mortal being to grasp. We rig laws to help certain groups or business operations, and rig other laws to hinder or destroy business operations.
For roughly the first hundred years of America.....we were a pure capitalist society and nation. Today, we are a hybrid of that group. We aren't pure capitalists. We pretend to be.....often even debating how serious we are at capitalism.....but as the day falls upon night.....we find ways to rig up true capitalism to fail.
When you needed cheaper labor, to keep products at the same pricing.....we produced NAFTA.
When you needed cheaper cars, you moved the plants overseas or you built plants where unions weren't existing.
When you needed cheaper vegetables or fruits.....you imported from Mexico or South America.
When you needed cheaper hotels, you found crappy older places....put on some fresh paint, kept the pricing at the same levels, and folks just accepted a marginal two-star hotel as perfectly acceptable.
We've built tens of thousands of gimmicks to make the capitalist model of America appear to be functional but evolving. We never asked where this evolution was going.....we simply accepted change as part of the deal.
Bankers rig up bogus packages of worthless property to look valuable for investors to buy.
Used car lot owners rig up seven-year old cars to run great for a month before they stall out.
Bars water-down the booze to make an extra profit off stupid drunks.
Farmers wander into bio vegetable sales with truckloads of fruit....that weren't pure and simple bio-grown.
Ranchers sell beef as bio-beef....when they used various tricks that weren't within the rules.
When the city deemed a big resort needed to be built along some riverfront property.....they'd hustle up imminent domain to seize the property for the forced sale.
A hybrid capitalist? Yeah. The fact is....we've never written vast studies on the fact, or examined just where hybrid capitalism leads onto. So you can't say it's better or worse than what you had a hundred years ago. And the curious thing? We can't retreat back.....because we've accepted some many parts to this gimmick.