I am not a member of the “one percent.” Not even close. I grew up in a solid middle-class
family, got a job when I was a high school junior working on dangerous log booms at the
oceanfront, and paid my way through college. I became a teacher, married, raised a family,
attended church, and did volunteer work in my community.

All in all, I think my developmental background was pretty plain vanilla.

Now, to my topic at hand. At no time did I ever feel a raging jealousy toward those people who enjoyed a better material life than I had. I still do not. I knew that, if I worked hard and led a clean life, I had a good shot at attaining my goals.

My goal was not to be a successful business tycoon with a corner office in a New York tower. However, I did not for a moment begrudge those who did.

On the contrary, I was grateful that there was the kind of person who excelled in industry, made the investment of time and money necessary, and had the entrepreneurial skill to create a business environment that allowed me to participate while pursing my own dreams.

If I did have any “rage” it was reserved for those who always felt they were owed something from business or the government. I believed that we should all have the same opportunity to achieve, but we did not have the right to expect the same results.

An early experience in the labor world had a profound impact upon me. While in college, I had a summer job as a warehouse man driving a forklift. After a week on the job, I was told by the union steward that I was working too quickly.

Naively, I told him I did not understand what he meant.

He quickly educated me — if everyone worked at my pace, there would not be enough work for all the forklift drivers. Management would see that the work could be done by fewer drivers and there would be resultant layoffs.

I am sorry, but my sympathy did not go to the drivers who needed “featherbedding” to keep their jobs. Rather, my sympathy went to the owners who created the company which provided the jobs for workers who somehow felt it was okay to game the system.

If that makes me a capitalist, so be it.

I lament that a sizable number in the population today do not have this respect for the way of life that has been the bedrock for the success of our country. Quite simply, we enjoy a quality of life that is the envy of the world — and the foundation of that condition is capitalism.

There are those who disagree. Incredibly, they believe that business is inherently “evil” and that it “lives off the backs of workers.” These people also believe that those who work hard and achieve their deserved results somehow owe others who do not.

Recently, this idea found its epitome in the Democratic proposal that a “wage” should be provided to those who actually choose not to work! That former union steward of mine would be ecstatic — the government would be gaming the system for him.

Socialism is a direct attack on our quality of life. It is a real threat. We are now beyond attacking socialism with jokes such as Margaret Thatcher’s, “Socialism is a wonderful concept — until you run out of other people’s money.” Frankly, we are at a point where we need to look around us, take stock of how far we have come in this country, discern our own personal capitalist accomplishments, and proclaim it far and wide.

Here is mine. I loved teaching. It was an honor and a privilege to engage with the development of young students. I also grew to admire my “bosses” — principals who had the ability to encourage and stimulate me to improve my teaching. I was determined to become that kind of school principal.

Later, I had the great fortune of working for a superintendent who was truly an inspirational educator. Sadly, I recently gave a eulogy at his funeral. This wonderful man inspired me to achieve my own superintendency.

In the autumn of my years, it is my fervent hope that I have contributed to the “capitalism” of our country, not only by my story, but my commitment to proclaiming its value.

Another View is a weekly column written collaboratively by Dale Landrith of Camden, Ken Frederic of Bristol, Paul Ackerman of Martinsville, Jan Dolcater of Rockport and Ralph “Doc” Wallace of Rockport.


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