Like communism, capitalism weighs very little on the U.S. political scale. On the micro-economic level, my existence as a painter has been influenced mostly by the anti-capitalism that exists on every level of government. I began my working life and private passion as a cook and aspiring chef in a local restaurant. In a truly capitalistic environment, I would have continued a career in the culinary arts/service industry right straight through to retirement. The natural progression of my talent through practice, the skills and knowledge gained, set me on a course to acquiring my own restaurant and competing with other food industry entrepreneurs on a local level. A true capitalism would have offered no barriers beyond my abilities to taking the small risk of maintaining a 33% and under food cost, and practicing good kitchen habits to prevent food born disease to my customers. I would have begun serving sandwiches and hot soups to passersby on days off out in the front yard of the first apartment I rented after college. I would save my profits, and expand my business at every opportunity to one day afford a building to rent that had decent plumbing and electricity.
I was a very good cook once—self-taught, like all successful love must be, with true dedication in learning and practice. Before the Internet, I visited the library often to take out cookbooks, dreamed preparations at night for restaurant specials the next day, and at the time, also had a dabbler’s interest in Zen Buddhism, easily weaving the latter into the story of the cook’s life I was writing.
But because of other, real existing political philosophies used in practice, the risks to restaurant entrepreneurship were too great to delve into without an exorbitant upfront investment provided by a bank or wealthy investor. A capitalism of and by the rich to steer the poor away from self-sufficiency.
America’s anti-capitalism, as it exists towards the lower financial classes, prevented a start-up that could have been a family-supporting success. There were and are just too many barriers to private investment in the food industry. The most obvious are local codes set up to create commercial zoning, which inflates commercial rents and realty to points out of reach for most start-ups. So, at an earlier age, I was prevented by non-capitalistic codes for a fair shot at failure or success. My bootstraps didn’t even get the chance to be laced, let alone pulled up.
So incremental risks I could have made were denied by the political and economic powers in place, which are never true capitalism, more than it is a business of the rich for the more well-off socialists, at least as it pertains to local economies today.
Therefore, my career story lies on a path of least resistance. Paints, word processing software, and an Internet connection are affordable, whereas an investment in a commercial district restaurant enterprise is not. Pretend capitalists would say that I was just avoiding risk. A $200,000.00 loan to a man who has $3,000.00 saved and a self-taught plan to serve French sauces to the community is a ludicrous risk which no pretend capitalist would ever take. The poor cook would be laughed out of any bank in the land. True risk begins on a fair playing field, and rewards those who outshine competition over time. I am probably not the best painter and writer in my county. But I was one of the best potential restauranteurs. Today the restaurants in my community, save a couple family treasures (begun in the mid-20th century) are downright horrible. Yet even where the family restaurants shine (service and acceptable ambiance), the food is mostly bad.
Which leads to another issue to consider for my independent run for New York’s 24th district Congressional seat…
Advocate to our state government a capitalism-socialism for all new business! Any one should be able to start a passion money-maker, yet must be required to follow all local, state and federal health, safety, and environmental guidelines, not pertaining to physical existence zoning). Neighborhood mom and pop grocery stores, doctor and dentist offices, plumbers, electricians, schools, and of course, restaurants, all developing and thriving in residential neighborhoods.
The crowding of retail and restaurant chains like Walmart and McDonalds is not born from a rugged individualistic kind of capitalism—they are put into place by outside oligarchal pathogens infecting local communities. Last Saturday I got into a discussion with a kind woman at the art association about a debate going on in the small village where she resides. There is a faction of townspeople protesting the arrival of a new Dollar General dollar store chain. She claims that the poor need it, and the rich don’t want it for all of its unsightliness. (It shows the town’s poor acting poor). I tried to explain to her that if the village would allow for residential businesses to be created, then even the poor could take their chances at local financial autonomy by going into business, and at the same time voice their own shunning of the big box China crap house chains popping up all over the U.S. making a profit on despair. Both her and I agreed on the business model—big chain moves in, makes a ten-year long profit on a initial 1/4 million dollar investment (oftentimes tax-free for ten years by local government looking to wage-slave their constituents), and the town gets cheap, mostly unnecessary goods for a decade and then an empty cement box that can’t be filled.
I want to change this paradigm by nationally advocating for a more rugged (and safely regulated) localism. A true capitalism-socialism blend for the middle class and poor that could make for closer, more socially responsible communities—responsible to each other as cohabitating human beings.
With unexpected success in the 2018 election, I may still get the chance someday to serve sandwiches and soups out of my garage.
Or at least paintings of them anyway.