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The Middle Ground

“Lou” is a 33-year-old single father of two daughters, he works as a manager at a retail chain store. He was born and raised in Baltimore and has a bachelor’s degree in business.  

Can you define capitalism?

Capitalism is an economic system that lets private corporations control our economy.

How would you explain your feelings on or relationship with capitalism?

I don’t really think I have a specific relationship with capitalism, I haven’t known any other system. I have mixed feelings about it because I think that in theory it is better in comparison to other economic systems. But it lacks certain levels of stability and I have seen the struggles that that lack of stability can bring to people who are in lower economic classes. I tend to feel that somedays I can lean one way more than the other but for the most part I hang in the middle.

Do your views on capitalism match with what your parents’ thought are on capitalism?

I would say that they have a more cynical view than I do. They are the reason that I am wary of the stability of capitalism. Growing up we were barely living paycheck to paycheck, and now a few decades later they are consistently bringing up some issues that they have found with our economy. They have also explicitly told me how they do not believe in the idea that if you work hard, you can make a good like for yourself, which is definitely where I have different thoughts.

What are your thoughts on the idea of being able to make something of yourself if you work hard enough?

I do believe in the concept; I do think that there is a limit to how much you can achieve by working hard depending on the opportunities you are provided. But I had more opportunities than my parents did when they were my age and I honestly believe that having experienced the struggle of living paycheck to paycheck as a child and seeing the stress it caused my parents, it is something that I wanted to work hard to not have my own children have that experience. Which is something I definitely feel I have done.

What advice would you give your daughters when they are older about living in a capitalist economy?

I actually have started, I think teaching them would be a better term, teaching them about the benefits of working hard, but also making sure that they are aware of the financial decisions that they make and that they also work hard on building a savings, if only for emergencies. And while now the financial decisions I am helping my nine-year-old is make is that maybe it would be better to buy two different dolls instead of the same one even though (he quotes his daughter) “She is just so cool and cute and what more do I need?” I am hoping that one day when it comes to bigger decisions, she will be able to make the best choice for herself, her situation, and her future.

Reflection

From the different interviews, I have conducted before I personally feel that “Lou’s” feelings on capitalism really do reflect the middle ground that many people stand on when it comes to capitalism. While he does not think he has a relationship with capitalism, I would say he does based on what he told me about his childhood (which I was told more of off the record) and how he hopes to help his children not feel that they have to learn about making money for survival, but for them to learn to make smart financial decisions in their future. I also had other questions planned than the last two but while we were talking I was interested in topics that he mentioned, like his children’s futures, and how he seemed to be able to see both sides of living in a capitalist economy.

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