So I was at work today, with a bag of candies that I’d bought at the dollar store mere hours before, and I decided to be a generous fellow and share them. I handed one to my friend, Greg (one of the only other educated people there), saying “I picked these up at the dollar store, figured I’d share the wealth.” Greg looked at me and replied “Thank you. That’s rather socialist of you.”
My immediate response was something along the lines of it being more of a second-grade-sharing type thing, but it got me thinking about economics (like things sometimes do). I realized that giving him that piece of candy could actually be described as a somewhat capitalist thing to do (I understand that it’s candy, so the rules are a bit loose).
Suppose we refer to my candies as what I called them in that story – “wealth.” There’s a difference between “sharing the wealth” and “a government regulated redistribution of wealth.” The fundamentals of American capitalism are based on debt. Which is where “sharing the wealth” comes in. Debt is created when someone who has wealth loans it to someone who doesn’t. That person uses that money to create more money (starting a business, investing it, etc), the idea being that the money can be paid back with interest and the borrower can still make a profit.
Back to our candy analogy. I gave Greg a piece of candy, lets call it a loan. I had candy, he needed candy. In order to pay me back, Greg has to go to the dollar store and get a bag of candies, from which he’ll pay me my candy back, and perhaps a few extras in interest. But now he’s still got a huge bag of candies, which he can loan out to other people, so on and so forth. Ultimately, debt creates wealth. Or candy. Maybe I’m just trying to feel better by convince myself that I’m contributing to the economy by being buried under a pile of credit card debt…
Anyway, that’s your lesson on capitalism for today. The two things you can take away from the story are that my jobs sucks so hard that I think about this kind of shit all day, and that I try to use candy to mask the fact that I didn’t major in economics in college.