Tuesday, February 01, 2005

capitalism rocks

I never knew how much I appreciate living in a capitalistic society until I read "We the Living" by Ayn Rand.

It's not that I necessarily thought I was a Marxist or a communist or something, it’s just that people don't go walking around toting the upsides of a free market economy. It took a semi-autobiographical story of a woman coming from a communist country to make me realize the worth of what I have.

Yes, there are flaws in every system. Monopolies, big corporations doing terrible things because of the cash, hell – look what has happened to the media. All bad things. But the concept that if I work hard at something I am good at can and will be rewarded monetarily? Awesome.

You have to realize as well that Ayn Rand changed my life. Her book "The Fountainhead" was the catalyst that in effect made me quit my safe, boring, and frankly awful job as an engineer at General Motors. The main character in that book had to be true to himself and his inner vision, and would not bend or compromise no matter how hard the jealous shallow hordes tried to beat him down. His trials made me realize that going the safe way and killing myself slowly was no way to live. I quit the job, supported myself waiting tables, got a degree in psychology and tried every job that came my way.

I'm still working very hard, and am slowly getting paid more and more for my true talents. This I appreciate.

But what I really appreciate is that I just filed my federal taxes, and for the first time in my life I am getting a pretty good return. Oh my, suddenly I am the ultimate capitalist! Visions of ipods, furniture, vacations, and new outfits dance through my head. I am practically giddy with the excitement of treating myself to something.

Then I slap my hand against my forehead and scold myself for my newfound materialism. Argh! Why does the concept of shopping suddenly make me so giddy? What happened to my loving my quality of life and friends?

Really I'm not getting enough to buy any more than one of the things in my list, but then I realize that the most fun part about this scenario is that I get the chance to dream and imagine having all those things. Like how spending $1 on a lottery ticket is really just buying you a little fantasy time.

After riding this roller coaster of joy and self-flagellation, it occurred to me that I am smack dab in the middle of a truly happy moment in my life. So many of the things that I have dreamed of having I have accomplished. How many people can say that? Even more importantly, how many people take the time to realize it and bask in the glow when it happens?

Now do me a favor and go knock on some wood, just in case I’m not knocking hard enough.

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