I got paid by my client on Thursday, about which I was very happy. I love capitalism, no matter how brutal, unfair and “chaotic and unforgiving” our president may deem it as being. I sacrifice my free time and work hard, and then I get money which I may spend however I wish.
I reiterated my love of capitalism when Shiaw-Ling called me that night. We shorted our staff for the San Diego Comic-Con, so she and Loretta are off duty, though I was happy to pass the room reservation and badges on. Shiaw-Ling and Loretta are a little flummoxed at going to the Con without having to do booth duty, but I reminded Shiaw-Ling this is one of the privileges and benefits of capitalism. You pay for it, you can do whatever you want. If Shiaw-Ling wants to be with the crazy fanatics spending all day in a panel room just to see that guy from that show, that’s her privilege. No longer will she have to suffer an angry booth Nazi calling her and texting her about her booth duty, ever. She’s working hard for someone else now, and Comic-Con is her vacation.
Capitalism is a massive step up from socialism and communism, and I say that having experienced all systems. In communism, anyone smart spends all their time trying to establish a circle of power and influence while simultaneously trying to avoid getting the attention of anyone in another circle of power and influence, lest they get you thrown into a gulag. This also means there are no consumer goods of any value to be had, because everyone who wants power and influence grabs everything there is, in order to build power and influence by being the person who distributes any goods of any value.
Socialism is a little bit more controlled, but just as pernicious. The only job worth having is a government job where you can simultaneously not work and complain all the time about how hard you have to work. Everyone else who’s smart lives on welfare. Those who can gather enough funds (welfare or otherwise) for a visit to a capitalist country have to make sure to self-righteously note the capitalists’ country supposed lack of social services as they carry home an extra suitcase filled with clothes and DVDs which cost 30% less than they would have at home.
But when I hung up on Shiaw-Ling, I realized how much of a hypocrite I was praising capitalism. Because frankly, I consume tax-paid services more shamelessly than a recent immigrant to western Europe. My children and I go to the library (and all and any story times) multiple times a week, and I can’t even tell you how many books Kelly has currently checked out. 40? 50? I don’t know, but it didn’t cost me anything up front! As homeschoolers, we’re also using city parks en masse three and f0ur times a week.
County-wise, I had no objection to using the taxpayer-founded county health services, and state-wise, I’m at our state parks (especially the beaches) multiple times a year. The Santa Clara County Office of Education has been fabulous in loaning me preschool educational tools and letting me review textbooks, and if Kelly actually gets in to the charter or magnet schools I signed her up for, the state will be paying our way in yet another way. I dare say I even love (much to Peter’s amusement) public transportation and PBS.
In fact, my most recent use of taxpayer-provided services was a special library storytime funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It was actually very good: about 16 children received a classroom-like lesson on the new food pyramid, complete with interactive learning including games, crafts, and quizzing, with five librarians on hand as teacher proxies.
Kelly immediately found a new BFF, Pearl, for which her mother was grateful, because Pearl is as shy as Kelly is outgoing and friendly. However, while we capitalists were distracted, the mommies who’d immigrated from communist countries grabbed multiple copies of the nice hardback book-and-CD sets meant as giveaways and left with their children before anyone noticed, leaving us capitalists surprised when we looked up and saw all the books had disappeared. The storytime had been deliberately set up to be by reservation only, because there were a limited number of books, and they were to be given out as one per family. But if you’ve been brought up commie, you grab whatever you can when you can, no matter where you’re at. I’m a capitalist: I can buy the book back from eBay (or if I feel like going commie, suck up to the more-on-the-ball commies). After all, I didn’t really want a book: I just wanted another social occasion to please Kelly. But it was a reminder than no system is fair: there’s just different rules to each.
Of course, being an American capitalist, despite my free health care for children and free books, I’ll whine about the taxes I have to pay for the services I’m consuming. But if I had to choose between going my own way and not paying taxes; or getting all the wonderful services I’m taking advantage of and having to pay taxes as they are or at an increased rate, I’ll still opt for the former, because, as someone willing and able to work, I think it’s more fair than any alternative.