Unjust Criticism

I took a part-time job over the winter. My usual lawn care job hits the skids right around Thanksgiving, and I still get 20 hours a week at the warehouse, but I needed a second part-time to fill the gaps.

My wife got me a job. She works at a fast-casual chain restaurant. She knows the owner, an older man, Ted, who owns half-a-dozen other chain restaurants. Ted’s just purchased a new location. The new location was hiring someone to cook, transport, and serve catering orders. I took the job.

My opinion of Ted has been that he’s your typical capitalist: have a lot of capital, buy a lot of servitude-huts, pay your overworked employees in crap so you can save up for the new beach house in Daytona you’ve been desiring.

But… of course there’s a but, or else this wouldn’t be blog material…

I can no longer dislike Ted for buying up franchises. I still dislike him for paying my wife crap while hiring new, less qualified, shitty employees and paying them several dollars an hour more than my wife. But…

For all I know his capitalist motivation is to support his family. He’s a grandparent; maybe this is his way of ensuring his grandkids receive excellent educations and health care. Maybe he striving to ensure a leg-up for the next three generations of the Ted Family. I don’t know if he donates.

Or maybe he’s decided his life-purpose  is to work and succeed as much as he can, as long as he can (Ted’s in his 70’s), because this is how a person best contributes to society. And in our society, this usually explicitly means succeeding within the capitalist model.

I’d rather people ran their own, single stores, instead of owning dozens. The right to property is the only right that infringes on the right of another: if you own this material, no one else can. If you own a share of the market, no one else can; and I see no need to take in more than you need. Owning one successful restaurant is plenty.

But… I cannot broad-brush dislike, disdain, or spite people who practice capitalism – I refuse to carry these tarnished emotions with me. And I know people practice capitalism because it is what our society practices and preaches. If you wish to support the next three generations of the Ted Family, you support them by succeeding in our system, which happens to be capitalist. I also must accept that I don’t know whether Ted can see beyond capitalism.

(This does not dispel my animosity towards Dimon, Geithner, Bushes, Clintons, Obamas of the country. If you consciously destruct, deceive, and degrade others, you deserve the animosity you yourself have extended: This will be my distinction between ‘honest’ capitalists and criminal capitalists.)

I’ve come to admire Ted for his constant hard work. The man is in his 70’s, and he gets up at 3am most weekdays, and runs back and forth between his two newest stores. The store I work at is making a lot of new business catering orders, and Ted’s been there every day working hard alongside us poorly-paid employees.

It bears to mention, as it always goes, that I wasn’t able to change my opinion of the man until I began to know him.

PS: You hate the game, but don’t hate the player.

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