Coexist vs. Capitalist Bumper Stickers?

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.

20 thoughts on “Coexist vs. Capitalist Bumper Stickers?

  1. Why do we need a Coexist bumper sticker here in America? Isn’t that what we do? You should take your Coexist stickers to places like Iran, China, Saudi Arabia and North Korea and see how “tolerant” they are. I’ll stick with my Capitalist sticker, since it is in danger with the current administration.

    • John, thanks for your thoughts. In my view, we actually could do a better job of coexisting, as we have too much marginalization of people who believe or act differently. You are correct that other countries could do much better, as well. I do feel through commerce with different people and countries, an economic coexistence will be very copacetic with capitalism, so it is not an either/ or scenario.

      As for the comment about capitalism being under attack under the current administration, as an Independent I believe that is political rhetoric. While he is far from perfect, capitalists have done quite well under this President as well as under other Democrat White Houses. The data shows that the stock market, economy and job creation have each done better when Democrats are in the White House, which many Republicans would take issue with, but is true. The concerns I have is people not in the top 10% have not done so well under this recovery as per a study realized last week.

      Many thanks for commenting. All the best, BTG

      • Note to Readers: I believe the move to renew a relationship with Cuba is a great example of freeing a market up to commerce. This will only help break previous barriers that will benefit both countries. From the US side it gives access to 11 million new customers.

  2. The capitalists doing “quite well” under Obama and other democratic administrations are those gaining government franchise or other benefits, (crony capitalism) which certainly takes them out of the realm of being Capitalists.

    • Thanks for your comment. I always appreciate hearing from folks. Although I wrote this a while back, we have more access to data. We have had 73 consecutive months of job growth, the 5th longest economic growth period in our history soon to be 4th, we have a more than doubled stock market and an unemployment rate of 4.9% under Obama. In 2015, more cars and light trucks were sold in the US than ever before. And, we sold more houses since 2007. So, the short answer is the capital markets are doing pretty well under this President, in spite of the picture being painted by prospective candidates.

      Where we need to do better is the social injustice and increasing poverty that has occurred over the last 35 years due to technology, outsourcing, offshoring, downsizing and suppressed wages.

      Again, thanks for your comments. Keith

  3. You may believe in capitalism, but reading onward, it sounds more like you don’t. The fact that you have a problem with the bumper sticker and need to dissect all the negatives of capitalism also gives one a clue that you are actually more critical of it than your mere words let on. You spent no time dissecting the negatives of COEXIST bumper stickers and the hidden meanings behind those people in their their nice cars. I happen to also be a capitalist that believes in coexisting, and I have A CAPITALIST bumper sticker. Are you implying that someone like me does not believe in coexisting?

    • Mary, thanks for offering your opinion. I am a capitalist, but recognize I live in a country that is not unfettered capitalism. We have socialist underpinnings to protect where possible. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment benefits, workers comp, bankruptcy protection are all forms of socialism. Many in the US, do not fully comprehend those underpinnings. I am all for making money and rewarding merit and achievement. But, in the volunteer work I do, I see people who work their fanny off in multiple jobs, but still cannot get ahead.

      I am not saying people who have Capitalist bumper stickers do not believe in coexisting. Yet, what I do see is the same lettering concept used in the Coexist lettering. It is clearly meant to my way of thinking to be portray an either/ or scenario.

      The global economy in particular is larger because of coexisting and capitalism working together. That is the principle of the Nash Equilibrium which won a Nobel Prize in Economics for John Nash. This is why I am greatly concerned with the President wanting us to retrench from the world.

      I thank you for writing. I appreciate your push back. Keith

  4. Reblogged this on Scotties Toy Box and commented:
    Hello Keith. grand post. I hope you will let me add my 2 cents worth. When I was just an E-4 enlisted solider in Germany one holiday I spent my day walking a lonely part of fence in the cold bored and hungry. See the German Green part was protesting our base. While I supported their goals, they were not inconveniencing the generals and commanders who were in their homes enjoying their holiday meals. They made no difference to the leaders and policy makers. But they were putting a hurt on us lower enlisted who had no way to make a difference to achieve what they wanted.
    I remember thinking as I walked back and forth trying to stay warm, hungry, unhappy, “why did these people hate me”. I realize it was not personal for them to me, but that is the effect they were creating. The upper echelon did not care in the least what they were doing in front of the base gates, yet me and my friends were effected a lot.

    So sometimes it is not the target of the thing you want to change that suffers. It is worth making sure of your aim. Hugs

    • Scottie, thanks for the reblog and good example. We make more money coexisting and helping each other reach their goals. That was the key to the Nash Equilibrium which won him a Nobel Prize in Economics.

      That means involving the input of key stakeholders, such as those generals. I have seen too many good plans become shelf documents. If they do not want to be involved, find a way. Keith

      • Hello Keith. Yes the most gains were made in our economy and the middle class was created when the tax structure laid the heaviest taxes on those most able to afford them. Mark Cuban gave an interesting TED talk where he said that wealthy people like himself could not keep an economy going because they couldn’t create enough demand. He pointed out he could only buy so many shirts, pants, and shoes, but if millions of people could afford to buy them also then demand was created along with jobs. It is the idea of who do you give money to in order to stimulate the economy, a poor person or a wealthy person? The poor person needs to spend the money, has to put it to use. A wealthy person can simply park the money. Thank you again for the posts. Hugs

      • Scottie, well said. The book “Capital” provides data to that very point. America’s greatest growth occurred when we were taxed the most. We also had stronger unions that drove middle class growth even for non-union members.

        To Cuban’s excellent point, the average Joes and Josephines drive the economy. There is a great line from a venture capitalist which directly contradicts when business leaders tout themselves as job creators. He said, do you know what creates jobs…customers. I love this line. Think about that. Keith

  5. Hi Keith. I have a slightly different take on capitalism. I don’t believe that either the US or Australia [my home] have true capitalism. Instead, I believe we have multinational corporatism. This corporatism has twin aims – to return profits to shareholders [who make their ‘capital’ work for them] and continue growing [in order to make ever large profits for shareholders].

    Having shareholders is definitely part of what makes capitalism tick, but the pursuit of endless growth actually works to negate one of the fundamental principles of capitalism – i.e. that competition will ‘keep the bastards honest’.

    Unfortunately, competition implies a more or less level playing field. These days, small businesses and startups can’t compete with the corporates which either gobble them up, or undercut them until they go out of business. Essentially, this is competition based on money.

    I’m no economist, but I have helped run a family business, and I’m old enough to remember when businesses competed for market share by having a better product or service. These days, the corporates, especially the huge multinationals, have so many products that the focus has moved from real value to perceived value – i.e. if you have good marketing and advertising, you can convince the punters to pay top dollar for junk. Planned obsolescence anyone?

    As the biggest corporate players consolidate their market share, the actual number of players becomes ever smaller, eventually leading to practical monopolies – e.g. Microsoft vs Apple. Their products are just different enough to avoid claims of legal monopoly, but neither company really competes with the other, and there’s a kind of Mexican standoff that’s eerily close to ‘co-operation’ to maintain the status quo.

    I believe in capitalism simply because it fits so comfortably with how human beings function. We want, we need, we’re prepared to work for a better life, and ‘real’ capitalism rewards aspirations.

    To make this core capitalism work, however, the government of the day has to be prepared to keep the playing field level. If that means breaking up the big corporates, so be it. If that means placing a cap on company size, so be it. If that means jailing execs found guilty of /corporate/ wrong doing – then so be it. The fiefdoms and warlord mentality of corporates has to change. Nothing and no one should be above the law.

    Apologies for the long rant, but I fear that if we don’t fix corporatism, we’ll lose both capitalism and democracy, and that is unacceptable.

    • Acflory, good comments. You have spoken of a major obstacle. The bigger companies can muscle out or freeze out smaller competitors, whether it is the large agricultural companies who can weather downturns or a large pharma company who can tolerate a bad drug investment.

      Capitalism must have “governers” to keep it from getting out of control. The banks got too big too fail – that was a direct result of the repeal of the Glass Steagall Act in the US.

      What is interesting in the last few years is shareholder activism. Exxon Mobil
      shareholders voted to require management to apprise them of actions to prevent climate change. And, CEO pay was altered through such activism.

      Thanks for sharing your points. Please stop by again, Keith

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