Freedom, Democracy, and Capitalism

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017—I’m a proponent of free market capitalism, in that I believe in free things, especially if they can be exchanged for money that helps pay the bills.  Chicken feathers are free, sort of, if you don’t count the cost of feeding and housing the chickens.  Chickens molt on a regular basis, and if their feathers are clean, they can be used in a variety of ways.

I wore this hat, with a Speckles feather, on a “bad hair day” last week, getting smiles and compliments everywhere I went.  At first, I didn’t understand why these strangers were smiling.  Once I caught on, I bragged about how Speckles is alive and well, clean and healthy, and produced this feather of his own free will.

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Pictured here is the same hat with a Squire feather, while the producer stands on his soapbox.  The mason jar contains yellow roses brought by dinner guests and wisteria blooms from the vine I’m training to block summer sun through the window (also free).  The other jar holds saved feathers from previous molts.

My little enterprise, which will never go public, has already produced two sales, the first to my banker, who bought feathers scattered in a plastic sleeve protector.  The second was a trade of a small bag of Squire feathers for a large carafe of saki.  A few more feathers are on sale at a local consignment shop.

Squire tolerates, if he doesn’t necessarily like, going visiting in the cat carrier.  My banker and bank staff fell in love with him.  Speckles might like visiting, too, but so far hasn’t had the opportunity.

My version of capitalism makes use of the wealth between my ears to create value from things other people take for granted.  Those who buy their chickens plucked and cut into pieces can’t be expected to appreciate the beauty of the feathers—individually and collectively—until they see them in different contexts.

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Those who disparage capitalism seem to refer to “corporate capitalism,” which exploits human capital to form a “corporate body” amalgam in economic slavery to the bottom line.  Here we have such monsters as “corporate welfare,” “supercapitalism,” the “global economy,” and eco-rape.  Corporate capitalism has a long history of emphasizing short-term profits over long-term costs.  Local, and now world-wide, environmental pollution, general vitality-depletion on the planet, and a world at war (or perpetually on the verge of it) are only a few of the long term costs generated by an industrial age gone bananas

And, by the way, the bananas, especially the popular Cavendish banana, are at risk, too.  I grow another variety of banana and had a bumper crop last year, despite two major hurricanes.  Another free market capitalist product, courtesy of freedom, democracy, and capitalism.

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The following comments come from my journal, ten years ago this month:

POWER ABUSE
Friday, March 2, 2007 – People who are raised or trained by power abusers don’t learn how to use power wisely.  Entrenched power abuse, as in the military or medicine, is considered normal for those in the systems.  The greatest ambition of the low man on the totem pole is to go from masochist to sadist, where he imagines he will respect himself more than he respects his bosses.

FREEDOM  AND RESPONSIBILITY
Saturday, March 3, 2007 – Right makes might.  It isn’t the other way around.    Self-sufficiency breeds freedom.  Taking responsibility for one’s own choices requires the willingness to accept and deal with consequences.  Criminals are soon entrapped in their own crimes, even if others never see.  A guilty man lives with his guilt and must face it, eventually.  His guilt lurks in the shadows, waiting for opportunities to right the wrong.  He can choose to restore balance consciously before he re-establishes it unconsciously through fear.
Thus did Adam learn the hard way that he couldn’t hide from God or his own guilty conscience.

HUMAN CAPITAL
Saturday, March 3, 2007 – Human capital is the most undervalued capital of all.  The social engineering messages—through laws, conventions, politics, media, entertainment and advertising–exploit this presumed advantage to everyone’s detriment.  Productivity increases when people enjoy their work enough to create a pleasant work environment.  This should be leadership’s top priority.  Pressure to perform, to grind an endless supply of boring and more boring, saps creativity, initiative, and ultimately, the economy.
When people wake up and realize we all bleed the same red blood, and the best way to live is to let live, we will begin to recognize the value of using our minds to work for instead of against us.  There is no mystique to psychiatry except self-knowledge.  My  life is my creation and no one can live it but me.  The best way to live it is to love it, in its many-faceted faces.
There is plenty of work to be done.  We have too many unproductive people, who want nothing more than to be fitted to the right job for them, and to earn enough money to support basic necessities and a few amenities.  More important, people need to be appreciated as human beings with human dignity and allowed the time and space to enjoy the fruits of their labors.
Everyone has a role to play.  A society that appreciates its human capital appreciates in value.  By fitting the job to the individual, rather than the other way around, everyone wins at relatively little cost to others.
Human capital is the only viable capital.  All other capital is derived from human desire and effort.  Once we place our values where they truly belong, with each individual, we can have a truly free, capitalistic, democracy.

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8 thoughts on “Freedom, Democracy, and Capitalism

  1. Mark Miles

    I love how you’ve been able to use Squire’s feathers for ingenious purposes. He seems eminently magnanimous in sharing them.

    And I’m glad you made a distinction between capitalism of the mom ‘n’ pop shop variety and hyperexploitative corporate capitalism. There’s so little in common between the two that they really deserve different labels. For the record, we should all be supporting our local economies and communities in whatever ways we can.

    Reply
    1. katharineotto Post author

      Thanks, and absolutely we should appreciate our neighbors in our local communities. They are there for us when disaster strikes, and during normal times, if we are open to it.

      Reply
  2. Bonsai

    What a beautiful lady and blog! When we are at our second home which is a small cottage on Thunder Lake in the Hiawatha National Forest, there is more of this exchange mentality going on as we are all 17 miles from a small store and further from most everything else. Also many around us are locals with limited means. Exchanging and helping each other with our various talents rules the community. I wish I were more talented. Someday I dream of making homemade noodles for my neighbors.

    Reply
    1. katharineotto Post author

      Thank you, Bonsai, for the supportive and encouraging words. I believe a neighborly spirit is growing across the country (and maybe the world), especially in small communities (or enclaves in larger ones), where people know each other, for better or worse.

      Reply
  3. Gail Kaufman

    I am fortunate to live in an area with a small walk-friendly town where the streets are lined with unique, private shops. Some of the small shops closed because they couldn’t compete with the nearby big box stores. Sadly, most people opt for the biggest selection at the best price regardless of quality and customer service. That’s why corporate capitalism thrives.

    Reply
    1. katharineotto Post author

      It must be hard to be a small businessperson these days, what with the unstable economy, high overhead, and the relentlessness of corporate competitors. That the big box stores have more choice is illusion, I believe, because they fill their space with only one or two brands that are rarely the size, color, quality, or style I need. There are thus many holes in the markets that more selective customers like me would applaud. The advice to buy local is good for all of us when we remember that it keeps more money in town and re-circulates where it can do locals some good.

      Reply
  4. I of July

    “My version of capitalism makes use of the wealth between my ears to create value from things other people take for granted.” I absolutely love this description.

    Reply
    1. katharineotto Post author

      I of July, I also believe ideas can’t be owned. If you love the description, make it your own and spread it around. We need more people with a “prosperity consciousness” that uplifts and inspires, for the benefit of all.

      Reply

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