Observations on life

Victims of the capitalist economy

There is an article on Philly.com, 10 Secrets to Successfully Save for Retirement. It’s a good, simple article that’s worth reading. What caught my eye though was the first comment on the article.

I think it’s futile sitting down and figuring out ways to make it work in a Capitalist economy. I mean, these people worried about figuring out ways to actual retire are the ones who were the biggest victims of financial fraud in history; most lost the jobs/careers they were soon to be retiring from, lost their pensions, retirement savings, homes, cars etc.
Painting a happy picture of the white-haired couple debating whether or not to purchase the vacation condo in Boca is far from the reality of desperation people of their years are facing at the moment.

Most lost their jobs, pensions, retirement savings, homes, etc., most⁉️Let’s see, the stock market has more than recovered from its depths, pensions are not lost, they are guaranteed by the federal government for all but the highest income, unemployment was never higher than it was in the 80’s, unemployment benefits were greater, inflation remains very low and those that did get burned by the collapse of the housing bubble in large measure misused their home equity or were mortgaged beyond their means to begin with.

This is not to say some innocent people did lose their job and could not pay their bills and perhaps lost their home. But doesn’t that happen in good times and bad?

And there is that word victim again❗️

Sure, most people aren’t buying a condo in Boca, but neither are most people facing desperation, at least not as a result of a capitalist economy, quite the opposite in fact.

I retired in January 2010 and thus stopped saving. However, between then and today my 401k and IRAs have grown by 35%. It could have been far more if I had invested more in equities, but I’m not the greatest investor, tending to be too conservative. Every worker with a 401k or IRA could easily have done as well and better (unless they were victims of their own in attention and imprudence). The point, however is that the capitalist economy is what makes this happen (and funds the pensions of tens of millions of Americans). It’s time to get off that victims of the financial system bandwagon.

Nonetheless, the power of populist rhetoric is never to be underestimated. To a great extent you are a victim if you allow yourself to be. I recall a study done several years ago that showed the average employee spends more time on selecting a pair of shoes then they do evaluating and making decisions about their employee benefits (which of course, includes retirement and health care plans).

Someday they too will be victims of their own lack of judgement and poor or non-existent decision-making.



4 replies »

  1. It’s probably the easiest thing in the world to convince people that they are victims. They already want to believe it because it absolves them of any personal responsibility for their current state of affairs. If they tell themselves that it is not they who are at fault, but an external force such as another person or in this case a system (capitalism), it’s an easy sell.

    To some extent though, I think people are being victimized by our economic system. We do not have a system of pure capitalism. We haven’t had one for decades. The crony capitalists are in charge.

    “Crony capitalism is a term describing an economy in which success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials. It may be exhibited by favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks, or other forms of state interventionism. Crony capitalism is believed to arise when business cronyism and related self-serving behavior by businesses or businesspeople spills over into politics and government, or when self-serving friendships and family ties between businessmen and the government influence the economy and society to the extent that it corrupts public-serving economic and political ideals.” Wikipedia


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