Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Day I Became a Capitalist. Or, A Six-Year-Old Comes Face to Face With Socialism's Flaws

I love the show Modern Family (warning: tangential start to this post!). One of my favorite scenes from a recent episode was when Mitchell is freaking out as usual so Cameron tries to calm him down with a heartwarming tale from his childhood. He tells of a calf that disappeared one night. They searched high and low but never found it. Then a year later, a full grown steer shows up in their yard - same markings and everything! The calf had found his way home after all that time....and that night - at this point Mitchell interrupts: "I know, I know, you ate like Kings."

I love this story on so many levels! One, because I often repeat stories to the hubs multiple times. So I told him that from now on when I'm repeating myself to interrupt me with Mitchell's quote and I will not only stop telling the story but die laughing as well :)

And now I shall regale you with the Tale of the Day I Became a Capitalist.

Once when I was a child our Sunday school class received the exciting news that if we memorized a Psalm that was about 20 verses with less than 5 mistakes, we would get a free trip to Marine World!!! I was soooo excited! I worked extra hard and after weeks of work, I did it - I got the free trip! As did my little sister Adri. My parents couldn't go, so they sent us with the group. As soon as I found out about the trip, I began saving up my money doing extra chores so when we went I could buy what I called a hard animal (a very literal name - these plastic toys could inflict a nice bump on an annoying sibling's scalp if used as a club). I collected these treasured toys slowly, as they were expensive by my young estimation - $8-$18 each.

After a long day of playing on an incredible rope obstacle course, seeing tigers, whales, and dolphins (and getting soaked!), I was able to stop at the hard animal shop. I chose carefully, as I knew I had limited funds. A killer whale and its baby and a dolphin. A fitting tribute to the day.

None of the other kids had brought money, or if they had, they spent it on cotton candy so I was the only one who purchased a souvenir. When we boarded the bus to go home, our Sunday school teacher came running up with a plastic bag. "I bought everyone a toy!!" she exclaimed excitedly. We were all thrilled! This was an unexpected treat :) She began handing out hard animal tigers - cute little baby ones. I was in the middle of the bus, and she handed one to my friend who was sitting next to me, then turned her back and walked past me. I was confused. When she was done passing one out to the last kid, I asked her if I could have one as she had skipped me. She replied, "No. I bought these for everyone else. You don't get one."
"But why?" I asked.
"It's not fair that you bought a toy and the other kids didn't so I bought them all a toy too. But not one for you. Go sit down and play with your whale."
It didn't make sense to my six year old brain. I had worked mopping floors at 25 cents a room, picking up dog poop at ten cents a day....basically slaving away for weeks and saving every penny so I could buy a toy. Yet now I was being excluded because I had planned ahead and worked hard so I could afford said hard animal. What could have been a generous gift to all the kids in her class became a chance for her to play some sort of vindictive game with a young child - a reverse form of favorites, where all were favored but me. I sat in my seat and tried hard not to cry. The other kids played with their tigers around me. "You can't play with us." They said. "Your whale doesn't have legs. We don't want to play with a dumb whale."

But that's not the end of the story :)

The 6 year old went on to collect many more hard animals. She had countless hours of fun playing with her whales and dolphin - who were later joined by a humpback whale and its baby. The hard animals lived happily with their brethren in a large plastic tub and were played with by many a child. Eventually the whale and dolphin passed from this world after being chewed and eaten by a puppy.
Later that summer the girl saved up more money. She bought herself three baby tigers.


  1. I think I still have that bump...

  2. "... that burned up in a fire and insurance only gave me 10% of the price due to 90% depreciation."

    That's one part of capitalism I don't like - insurance - you pay premiums faithfully and forever; then, the one time you try collecting on a claim, the insurance company comes up with all sorts of ways to minimize their payment.

    When it comes to dealing with insurance companies - I CAPITALATE!


  3. I think the teacher was unfair. She should have given you one of the tigers, to be fair. She should have shown your example as to what dedication can get.

    But that is not what capitalism and/or socialism is. This is about fairness.

    In today's world

    Capitalism (corporate) is
    "Steal from the poor and feed the rich"

    Socialism is
    "Steal from the rich and feed the poor"

    They are both fundamentally flawed. True capitalism is

    "Keep what you earn 'fairly".