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The word capitalism may produce in an individual’s mind various feelings, emotions, and even superstitions. But when it comes down to a social system of justice, only thought can prevail. Capitalism is the way that individuals can trade with one another in peace. It is the social system that says the lowest beggar can change their life by making sage decisions and becoming a beacon of business. It says that the homemaker can come up with a household appliance and generate a fortune from scratch. Over the past nearly three centuries, capitalism has been maligned, denigrated, and rejected. All the while, it has elevated and propelled countless people from all classes to rise up from modest beginnings to greater planes of existence. Even through such animus towards the idea, capitalism has prevailed as an iconic statement of free markets. While laissez faire capitalism has never been seen on the face of the Earth, the most moral nation in history, the United States of America, has displayed the most affinity towards capitalism. In other places around the globe such as Hong Kong, some elements of freedom have taken hold and produced a magnificent region replete with skyscrapers and other symbols of capitalism. Every color, race, and creed has benefitted from the idea of producing, making, profiting. Well over a billion people have risen out of poverty in the last thirty years. This is all due to the power of free markets.
While some folks may say that capitalism is a detriment to people, that it leads to frustration and even suicide, the truth is that capitalism has produced more wealth than any other social system combined. Every other social system is based on the altruist doctrine that says that others are more important. At the base of capitalism is selfishness. It is not a sense of running through crowds, elbows poked out, knocking down people in the process. Rather, it is drawing a crowd to pay attention to a striking new gadget or a website or a new way to sell books. Capitalism brings out the best in anyone willing to fight for values. There’s no debate. Capitalism flat-out defeats every other political-economic system by great strides. The detractors will say that capitalism hasn’t done enough. The fact is it’s never had a chance. Too many regulations, controls, and acts of coercion have put fetters on it. A social system so in line with liberty and the products of the mind does not exist in any country, not in any time in history. In the twenty-first century, capitalism is in a boxing match. It has taken a few on the nose but it has an iron chin. So get your dollar sign brooches for Pulling Rank: Best Ways that Capitalism has Shaped the Twenty First Century from a Trilli’ to Young Money.
The Quiet Fighter
3. Apple crossed the trillion-dollar mark
With origins in an untidy garage (though most of the intellectual and physical work took place elsewhere) Apple has grown into the history making trillion-dollar company it is today. The late-great Steve Jobs, often depicted as a cantankerous genius started the company with a more meek genius, Steve Wozniak. Though the depiction has been that Jobs was callous and rough at the edges, he wouldn’t have been the visionary if he had not been able to be like a drill instructor at times. He chastised and berated subordinates to motivate them and to see through a project with perfection as the goal. Through the years, the corporation has experienced pitfalls and triumphs much like any other Fortune 500 company. The facets of Apple that present it as a behemoth have brought admiration as well as ire. Time has proven that the company’s vision is not to make money. That has come within the decades. The idea at the beginning was to make efficient, beautiful products.
From the Apple II to the iPhone X, Apple has experienced the best and worst of what the business has to offer. And that should be key; it is in fact a business. And for it to be an enterprise of such gargantuan proportions, it needed to focus on the technical and aesthetic values that would make the company legendary. Current CEO Tim Cook could be credited for being the Scottie Pippen to Steve Jobs’ Michael Jordan in his fading years. Cook took up the reins when the late Jobs was ailing. He brought the company to ever higher heights by forging a business plan that kept in mind the beginnings of the company.
Now, as the first company to ever earn a market capitalization of one trillion dollars, Apple is poised with only making more money. They get it. Making money means that you are providing a good or service to individuals who didn’t even realize that they needed such a good or service. That is the essence of what Jobs/Wozniak/Cook have done. Without capitalism, Apple would’ve never been able to accumulate enough wealth to assert itself as the wealthiest company in the world (through market cap.). The stories of Foxconn, the company which makes several Apple products, where employees have experienced poor working conditions and some have leapt to their death illustrates the opposite of capitalism. If these workers wanted to work at Foxconn, that meant they wanted to improve their standing in life. For those who felt like they’d been mistreated, did someone put a .38 snub nose to their temple and force them to work? And the suicide cases, did they not understand that this was the best option for them and that they should’ve continued living?
Apple is the epitome of what a product of capitalism looks like. It is an exquisitely robust company that has lighted a pathway for so many other companies including its competitor/collaborator Samsung. The company is so strong that it has made millionaires out its engineers and continues to produce the best goods at the best price.
Rank: A Trilli’
Bezos Gets the Bucks
2. Amazon CEO becomes richest man in modern history
Somewhere north of 156 billion dollars (by some estimates as of this writing), Jeff Bezos’ fortune is a result of shrewd business deals and a spectacular understanding of products and the marketplace. Like the Steve’s behind Apple, Jeff Bezos started in his garage. This is telling because the myth that people often perpetuate is that a great crime has to come before a great fortune. But what is the criminal offense of hunkering down next to a wall full of gardening tools and founding a business on books? Why do people, even in a semi-capitalist society often draw the conclusion that men like Bezos didn’t earn their fortunes? It is because of envy. It infects the soul like an Ebola virus and instead of hurting the one they hurl insults at, they only fester and kill the hurler unless they receive the antidote: capitalism.
Bezos has provided an enormous service and has created copious value in the process. As he ventured away from traditional books and offered everything from toasters, to bicycles, to the Kindle, to Amazon Prime Video, he has revolutionized the game through smart work and ingenuity. He ought to be hailed as a hero of immense proportions not disparaged as a “money grubber” who shows no “compassion’’ for his workers. Many people would be quick to say, “well he earns two hundred million dollars a day, why can’t he give some of that to his employers?” In actuality, he is. He’s providing a platform for them to earn a decent wage where they’re not coerced into working for Amazon. If they don’t like it they have every right to leave, petition that Amazon be shut down, and search for employment elsewhere. What they ought not do is throw dirt on Bezos name for his illustrious accomplishments.
The reason why Bezos is able to fund private space programs like Blue Origin is because he has made so much value in the marketplace. He is freed up to venture into businesses that have the possibility of failure. However, he has enough capital to see through the success of his foray into the space business. Will workers holler that he can afford to go into space but won’t allow a fifteen dollar minimum wage? This is absurd. Workers possess enough smarts and know-how that they could start their own version of Amazon and compete against Bezos. It may not be probable but it is most certainly is possible. What Blue Origin and Bezos' other investments signal is a man who does not just “horde” his money and sit on it. He is producing constantly to fund and sustain various businesses like the Washington Post, Whole Foods, and Alexa to continue to boost his bank account, of course, but also to enrich his mind.
Money is the byproduct of the sweat equity, the smarts, the toiling, the striving to do better. It is not the end game. One doesn’t just say “I’m the richest man on the planet, I think I’ll just swim in a pull full of dollar bills.” No, Bezos and other titans of industry see their work as the driving force behind what they do. Their passion is what leads them to dollars. It is not the other way.
Rank: The sky is not the limit
Zuck the World
1. And the youngest in charge (fifth place atop billionaires list) shall be the leader
Mark Zuckerberg’s wealth is not due to the conundrum, wrapped in a quagmire, sprinkled with controversy. The opposite is true. The genius programmer turned major corporation CEO has proven that his business acumen far outweighs any past infighting which occurred at the nursery room of the baby Facebook. Now, as the company has matured, so has its leader. He knows that the way to maintain a thriving enterprise, he has to continue to innovate and invest. Far from being the almost non-factor site MySpace, Facebook is poised to bring in even more billions. Zuckerberg has tasked himself with investing in private companies like Instagram and Oculus. The way to keep his seventy-plus billions dollars flowing is to branch out while still keeping the flagship brand in good standing.
With all of the hysteria about Cambridge Analytica and “censorship,” Zuckerberg has remained confident and driven in his place of business. In this sphere, he has generated the possibility for billions of people to communicate, be informed, be entertained, and in most cases not have to pay a single dime for it. Capitalism has permitted all of this activity. Without the social system, (or some semblance of it) Zuckerberg would’ve never achieved those acquisitions and would not be able to enjoy his billions of dollars. Like Cook Zuckerberg is a strong advocate of philanthropy. (Bezos is only slightly pro-giving toward his money away.) This does not mean that he is more virtuous, or less virtuous. It just means that he has a peripheral inclination of forking over his fortune to others.
Zuckerberg should not be lauded or disrespected for these actions. Instead, he should be looked at as one of the foremost businessmen of all time. Despite the dorm room incubator that Facebook was delivered in, the real issue is the fact that Zuckerberg never let the company steer into unwanted territory. He commands the ship in the most valiant of ways. By strengthening security measures, hiring the best engineering minds, and continuing to foster a wondrous work environment, Zuckerberg should be applauded for his efforts to make the best social networking company possible.
All of the tech minds mentioned above all started from simple stages. This is a testament to the reality of capitalism. Before about 1776, no one could come up with a project that would be able to grow into monumental success stories. Some people feel that businesses are mostly handed down through generations. This might be true in some cases but the majority of great business minds started in garages and dorm rooms. This ought to motivate anyone looking not to be billionaires (maybe) but to make the most of whatever talent, skill, or knowledge they possess to not get a piece of the pie, but to devise their own recipe.
Rank: Young Money