This may be one of those “only in America” things, but I have observed on several occasions car bumper stickers that have the word “Capitalist” portrayed in a manner similar to the ones portraying “Coexist.” The Coexist sticker uses religious symbols from a variety of religions to portray a world that embraces many different ways of worship with a message of respect, diversity and understanding. My wife and I had one on a previous car and I have shirt that I often wear with the same logo. I have seen variations of the concept using words such as “Tolerance” which we have displayed on our door to the garage among other items.
The “Capitalist” bumper sticker uses the same concept to portray a message of free markets, I would presume. Yet, maybe it is just me, but I get a sense that the portrayal of Capitalist is a means to counterbalance the words Coexist and Tolerance. This strikes me as odd, as the words do not have opposite meanings. I also find someone driving a nice car in America not needing the word Capitalist to portray that they believe in making money in free markets.
You see, I am believer in capitalism, provided it has some governance. I have time and again noted that unfettered capitalism is not the answer as it gives greater freedom for the “haves” to take advantage of the “have-nots.” We have unfortunately slipped down that path more in America as evidenced just this week by the increasing disparity in the top end of our wage earners versus everyone else. This slippery slope is traceable back to the early 1980’s when taxes were significantly reduced on the upper end leaving flat growth for most people and heightened growth for the higher income earners. Yet, my business is based on the concept of capitalism and I believe when governed correctly is the more elegant economic model.
Yet, I am also a huge believer in coexisting. We must embrace our differences and be more inclusive. Another pet saying of mine is when religion is inclusive it is at its finest and when it is exclusive is at its worst . An unfortunate history lesson bears this out as more people have been killed over religious differences than any other issue – Catholics versus Protestants, Sunnis versus Shiites, the Nazi attempt to exterminate the Jews, the Crusades, etc.
So, I am a capitalist who believes in coexisting. But, let me make two final related points. First, for true capitalists, you will make more money by coexisting and being inclusive than you will if you only trade with people who believe or look the way you do. Think about that. As an example, in the Jim Crow south, southern white capitalists still conducted trade with African-Americans. To do otherwise would have hurt their business. The white businesses may have served African-Americans differently, but they did indeed trade with them. It was for this reason that the Civil Rights movement used a boycott of the bus system in a town in Alabama to gain some concessions.
Second, I believe that inclusive, coexisting economic trade does wonders for relationships between disparate groups. When the leaders of a country do bad things, the western world poses economic sanctions on the country. When this is done it punishes the wrong people. The everyday people are the ones harmed by the sanctions and, in a non-free society, they have little power to express grievance unless there is a revolution. I believe if you promote free trade among civilians and open the markets up to many, this is a better way of diplomacy.
You need only contrast the two Korea’s, the flourishing South Korea versus the totalitarianism in North Korea. The restart of the manufacturing complex on the border of the two Korea’s where civilians of both are working side by side, is the best example of goodwill and free enterprise which far exceeds the impact of political maneuverings. People everywhere want a safe and secure place to live and feed their families. If you allow this to happen, then they will care less about political differences.
So, capitalism is not the opposite of coexisting. They work quite nicely together and should. Capitalists will make more money by coexisting than not. Coexisting is the right thing to do and if we focus on doing the right thing, then it makes other things flow more easily and naturally. Even capitalism.