Rockin' On: the Blog
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Capitalism: the best system?
"Even Paul McCartney has admitted capitalism is the best system. And he was a big pinko back in the day."
When I read the above I groaned, then I thought
this could be a blog
and finally I thought, "Whoa! There is a lot buried in those 20 words. If I'm not careful, I could be buried by those words."
Paul McCartney did cause a stir in 1972 with his song "
Give Ireland Back to the Irish
." The song was banned on the BBC. I'm old enough to recall all sorts of silly stuff being said about the Beatles at their peak, but I don't think Paul McCartney was ever a communist
but, that's just my opinion. Go google this and get back to me. I did, and failed to find a solid connection.
But, I don't think McCartney's politics is really relevant to the core statement. You might say this talk of his being a pinko is a bit of a red herring.
"Capitalism is the best system." Is this statement true?
This is a hard one, for someone not an economist. I'm going to answer without answering. This is a bit slippery, I hope. I want to slip out of this unscathed but it may be difficult.
You see, my first thought is that when I was young I would have agreed rather quickly with the statement. But the passing of fifty some years has changed not only me but capitalism. Capitalism today is not the capitalism of my childhood.
I believe the boosters of capitalism would say this is a strength of the capitalist system. It can adapt to meet the demands of the day. This sounds good but what does it mean in reality. Are the changes that I have experienced making capitalism better? If not, maybe the best system was some version of capitalism, now adapted out of existence.
My grandfather was born on a farm in Princeton, Ontario. He was an outstanding student and I understand that at his graduation it was said that he was the youngest pharmacist in the province of Ontario. It's hard to prove the truth of this statement as he graduated back in the 1890s. Let's just agree that he was a very bright young man.
On graduation, he went to the States where he worked for Cunningham Drug Stores. This was an up and coming chain and although my grandfather had a chance to get in on the ground floor, so to speak, he declined.
My grandfather moved back to Canada, to
, Ontario. There he started his own independent neighbourhood drugstore. He didn't get rich but he did have a beautiful wife and he did raise a fine family. He never owned a car; he didn't need one as he walked to work.
Today, a young man graduating as a pharmacist would have a difficult time starting his own independent corner drugstore. The chains pretty well control everything in the pharmacy business.
The Cunningham's Drug Store chain, the one my grandfather snubbed, went on to be one of the major players in the Midwest but a few decades ago it was taken out by another player in the capitalist game. A lot of people lost their jobs.
When I was a boy, my neighbourhood had a least three independent drugstores. Each one employed people in the neighbourhood and provided an important service. There were no big parking lots at any of the stores as they weren't necessary. Most people walked to the drugstore.
I worked for one of those drugstores; it became one of the first Big V pharmacies. Big V was formed by a small group of independent Windsor, Ontario, pharmacists intent on saving the neighbourhood drugstore. A few years back, Big V was bought by Shopper's Drug Mart.
Capitalism, the best system? I'm not sure that my grandfather would recognize today's capitalism. And I honestly believe that he would tell you the system under which he started his business, a business that lasted him a lifetime, was better.
The London Free Press
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