Trevor Hill Was Right to Question Capitalism
February 9, 2017
CAS sophomore Trevor Hill recently made news when he posed a provoking question to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at a town hall meeting hosted by CNN. Hill’s question centered around the future of the Democratic party and the future of capitalism. He presented Pelosi with a Harvard University poll, asserting that 51 percent of young voters no longer support capitalism. Like this majority, Hill feels misrepresented by the current platform of the Democratic party. Bernie Sanders offered a light of hope to many this election season. However, questions about the sustainability of capitalism mostly disappeared after Hillary Clinton beat Sanders in the primaries. At the town hall meeting, Pelosi essentially ignored Hill’s question, asserting that the capitalism is intrinsic to the United States. Unfortunately, because the system is so ingrained in our political, social and economic development, it seems as if America’s official religion is capitalism.
In the United States, capitalism is a religion; we have been conditioned to worship money. Our dollar bills even read “In God We Trust”. Popular culture celebrates people with exorbitant amounts of wealth, such as the Kardashians. Advertising is a billion-dollar industry which seeks to persuade us to buy into the capitalistic machine. Trillions were spent bailing out big banks, while millions struggle to pay student loans.
The United States was founded by Protestants and their work ethic influenced the institutions established by the founding fathers. Protestant work ethic calls for people to be monetarily frugal and to pass down their savings to the next generation. In the past, especially for Calvinists, one’s wealth and ability to acquire it were equated with one’s godliness. Calvinists also believe that wealth was a predestined gift from God. Such beliefs serve as the basis for our capitalistic economy.
Unfortunately, the reign of capitalism is unlikely to end with recent political developments. President Donald Trump displays a lack of civility which has never been exhibited by any other president, but does own an extraordinary amount of wealth. Trump advertises himself as a product of the idealized American dream, inspiring millions obsessed with monetary wealth to pledge their support to him.
Trump’s election shows that a vast majority of Americans prioritize wealth above all else, including human decency. Our culture places the wealthy on a pedestal while blaming the poor for their tougher circumstances. In 2013, the wealth gap was the largest since 1928, and it is becoming evident to our youth that the system in place is not only unsustainable, but morally and ethically questionable. The 2008 financial crisis left a lasting impression on the youth of the United States. Young people like Trevor Hill are aware that capitalism is no longer a viable economic belief system. Meanwhile, the powers at play are clinging onto a system that is doomed to fail.
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