NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

August 24, 2013

A lesson in capitalism, one cup at a time

“Capitalism, that economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and distribution, as land, factories, mines, railroads etc., and their operation for profit, under more or less competitive conditions” — My childhood dictionary

Capitalism is a social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned. — Ayn Rand, “Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal”

Capitalism has always been a failure for the lower class. It is now beginning to fail for the middle classes. — Howard Zinn, “A People’s History of the United States”

On July 4, granddaughter had a lemonade stand in front of my house; lots of boaters walking to the dock from faraway parking stopped to drink. Grandson earned money stomping flat the boxes that had accumulated on my porch. Too bad they didn’t think to sell tickets to traditional political arguments between Gram and Daddy.

I didn’t study economics in school. It was required in college but I didn’t get to it before I ran out of money in my sophomore year. Some formal training in this science would have come in handy when I became a taxpayer activist, since I had to learn a lot on the run.

The first time I recall hearing the word “capitalism” was when I lived in Mexico as an exchange student. One of the family cousins was a communist student; he tried to tell me that the U.S. system is wrong, that Marxism is right.

I sensed a flaw in his theories but at age 18 I didn’t know enough to argue; went home with the resolution to learn more about the subject. Fortunately, I found Ayn Rand before I found Howard Zinn. I now suspect that one of the problems in our country today is that many college students over the years weren’t so lucky.

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