Opinion: Is capitalism a triumph or a tragedy?

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Albert Fisler

In the past, the world has shared a variety of economic systems — from feudalism, to communism and socialism, to capitalism. In the past century, however, capitalism has expanded across the globe to become the dominant economic system. Capitalism promises a rewarding future for those who work hard enough to make it to the top. The only problem is the giant gap between the top and the bottom: as those at the top do their best to protect their place, those at the bottom have a hard time climbing their way up.

In the United States, we often hear the term “the one percent,” referring to the 1 percent of the population that holds more wealth than the other 99 percent combined. For a “fair” system, that seems staggeringly intimidating. As jobs evolve with the economy, companies are requiring more and more education on the resume of potential employees. For someone who did not attend college, or even in a worse case, hasn’t even finished high school, have a very hard time finding a job that pays more than minimum wage. I have heard employers say that they do not even look at a resume that doesn’t meet their requirements of education, despite how qualified the potential candidate might be. However, the majority of college students use loans to pay the astronomical fee of tuition, and only a small fraction complete their higher education debt free. But why is this?

This goes back to the simple economic principle of supply and demand. The demand for college right now is very high, so the price of obtaining that education rises with the demand for it. The price of this education, which can be argued is essential to survive and succeed in this day and age, leaves people in debt for several years, possibly even decades, past their graduation.

Capitalism prides itself on competition, therefore the best competitor will win, by whatever means necessary. Yet, the gap between the 1 percent and the rest is so vastly large that it’s hardly a competition between the top and bottom. This leaves the 99 percent fighting over the little bit of money that circulates around them, while the top keeps their wealth locked away while simultaneously obtaining more.

So I ask: is capitalism a triumph, or a tragedy? Is it truly a fair system where anyone can join the 1 percent? Is it possible one day that the 1 percent will grow and the 99 percent shrink toward equal values? I have no definitive answer for this question, which is why I posed it to my readers. Fair or biased, triumph or tragedy; capitalism is the system that has prevailed to take over the globe.