Monday, August 01, 2005

Latest MS Biz column: August

Capitalism: creating our own empowerment zones
By Natalie Criss
Assistant Editor
Metro Business Chronicle

There are a lot of people in this country who don’t know the first thing about capitalism. Many default to the “greedy pig” stereotype, because they don’t know any better. Others, particularly Marxists, believe that capitalism oppresses certain classes. Some claim to be capitalists simply because they are successful business owners, despite their rape and pillage of taxpayers to obtain their status.

None of these people really understand what capitalism is or what it can do. Whether it is to rein in “crooked” corporate executives, level the playing field by eliminating “unfair” competition, or redistribute wealth to the “disadvantaged,” they all presuppose the existence of government interference in the market. Their assumption is based on their common belief that capitalism unfettered is bad. Why?

Americans, particularly minorities (which includes women) have been sold a message by the media, our state and federal lawmakers, and our universities that we cannot do it alone: In order to start a business, we must have grants. To secure a job, we need regulations to protect us from discrimination. To jump-start ailing economies, we need empowerment zones and corporate welfare.

One of my favorite websites is Capitalist Chicks (http://www.capitalistchicks.com/), which is run by two women. Its purpose is to highlight women in capitalism. Their attempts at edginess are a little annoying, but considering that the younger of the two is in her early 20’s, I’m just glad to see a young capitalist woman in action.

Each month, the Chicks chose a theme on which to base their monthly features. In the introduction of the current theme, debt management, they say, “Taking responsibility for your retirement and your future not only seems distant, it seems daunting, and most people believe it's too big and confusing to figure out on their own.”

Ah, there it is: the creeping anxiety of decision-making and subsequent postponement of thought. “I'll not think of that today. I'll think of it tomorrow, for tomorrow is another day,” sighed Scarlet O’Hara. Well, fiddle dee dee. I do believe we’ve just hit upon the real reason capitalism “doesn’t work.”

Capitalism is the result of thoughtful, engaged, rational minds. Therefore, paralysis brought on by indecision is the biggest threat to capitalism. Failure to think has dire consequences.

If American women and minorities in business decide not to meet the daunting task of decision-making head on, we give that responsibility to someone else. If we trust someone else to act in our best interests more than we trust ourselves, we are giving away our freedom. Government is all too happy to fill that role.

We are not entitled to grants funded by taxpayer money. We do not need special status to succeed. We should not expect the government to fight our battles, fill our bellies, prop up our businesses, jump-start our economies or raise our children.

The most effective empowerment zone is headquartered atop our shoulders and extends to the borders of our personal space. If we don’t utilize it, the oppression and obstacles we have overcome in the past will pale in comparison to the ones that await us in the future.

Copyright Business Ink 2005. Email Natalie to request permission to reprint. Or else.

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