Thursday, August 1, 2013

Capitalism for B Students

Back-to-school season is upon us.   In my school days I was adept at absorbing, regurgitating and manipulating the information that was put before me.  That is to say that schoolwork and making grades came relatively easy for me.

But I was also lazy as well as practical.  Good grades were not particularly important for me but I also knew that my parents would be dissatisfied with anything less than a B in each class.     Therefore, at the onset of each semester I made it my business to study the syllabus and determine the minimal effort required to attain the parent-pleasing B grade.

For better or worse, I carried this attitude over into adult life.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m no bum.  However, it was never my ambition to be the tycoon, superstar or master of the universe.  I am not a big risk taker.  But I am glad that others are.

I am thankful that there are intelligent, ambitious and adventurous individuals who create businesses and amass wealth.  I do not envy them a bit.  In fact, I love them because they provide me with the opportunity to serve them, to put in honest day’s work and to earn a comfortable living.  This is how capitalism works for B students, for second tier players like me.

In fact, capitalism also finds places for C, D and F students as well.

In 1988, the Minneapolis punk-band, The Replacements, was opening for Keith Richards on his solo tour.  At the time I remember reading an interview with Replacements’ front man, Paul Westerberg.  The Replacements were notorious for their drunken back-stage and on-stage escapades.  Westerberg, himself a high school dropout, said in the interview that their heroes had always been screw-ups.  It was to this poor choice of role models that he attributed the band’s antics.

However capitalism served this band of drunken, punk screw-ups well.  Capitalist entrepreneurs who owned night clubs, who owned concert halls and arenas, who owned recording studios, record labels and radio stations gave the Replacements a platform to ply their art and take their shot at fame and fortune.

Capitalism is not just for the rich, powerful, ambitious or “greedy”.  Because of Capitalism, these go-getters open the door to the good life for the great unwashed including myself, garage rockers and slacker punks everywhere.

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