“Capitalism is NOT greed: Are students confusing the two terms?” Bambi’s chat with Mr. Michael Lifshitz, financial advisor & entrepreneur

“Capitalism is not greed: Are students confusing the two terms?” (Michael Lifshitz)

This post is a comment to an article entitled “We do not have a Planet B” by Ms. Emma Conrad published in the Argosy, Mount Allison Independent Student Newspaper (October 2nd, 2019):


The article in question reads:

“The speeches and demands were delivered at Bill Johnstone Memorial Park. Here, anyone who wanted to discuss climate change was invited up to the microphone to talk about what they felt was important.

“I am here today for the same reasons that you are all here – to ensure we have a sustainable future and a habitable planet,” began Yao. “I speak on [Zero Hour’s] behalf because I want you to walk away from today’s march understanding that the climate crisis is not an independent issue.

“When we are talking about a just transition to a sustainable way of living, we must address the real roots of climate change,” said Yao. “We understand the mechanisms, but the human conditions that enabled it are more complex yet just as essential. I am talking about patriarchy, racism, colonialism, capitalism, and all the ways we have chosen to systematically exploit the land and the people.”

End of Conrad’s quote.

Bambi has always been intrigued by how educated, smart students like Ms. Yao seem to always repeat the same clichés about capitalism.

Perhaps they do so without much thought about the concept? Perhaps they missed the Economy lesson if it is taught on Fridays when they have been busy striking ??

Anyhow, Bambi shared the thought above with her friend Mr. Lifshitz. She asked him for his opinion, as a financial expert. Maybe he has a more logical explanation.

Luckily, she did so because she heard a wise answer that goes like this: “Students seem to confuse capitalism with greed. Could it be?”

What an interesting hypothesis, Bambi thanked her friend. It is indeed a possibility.  

In Bambi’s mind, capitalism is free market. In other terms, it is free enterprise (more room for private ownership in this economy). Production and income distribution are largely determined by the market.

Capitalism has clearly created economic growth, preventing preterm birth, infant mortality, and lifting many children, not just in Canada but also around the world, out of poverty.  

Yes, obviously, more work needs to be done. However, we are moving in the right direction, at least in terms of better access to education and healthcare in many of the low to medium-income countries of the world, including Bambi’s birth country.

Of course, we also need to keep our planet clean and beautiful because, as Conrad titled her article: “We do not have a planet B”.

In Bambi’s mind, greed would be extreme, selfish desire for wealth or power. Thus, greed is not a virtue. It is selfish, especially in a society that is thankfully rooted in some socialism (where people care for each other and where our government, through our tax money, can be supportive too).

In sum, capitalism is NOT greed.

Ms. Yao also talked about patriarchy, racism, colonialism.

Bambi searched the website of Zero Hour:


She came across the same sentence repeated by Ms. Yao (speaking on behalf of this *global* organization): 

“Through this campaign, Zero Hour will educate communities around the country and abroad about the systems of oppression that Zero Hour names as root causes of climate change in our platform, including Capitalism, Racism, Sexism, Colonialism, and how these systems intersect with the climate movement to form climate justice”.

Interesting… But what does all this really mean?

Perhaps students confuse capitalism with greed indeed? But what about Zero Hour? Does it confuse Canada/North America with Saudi Arabia, Iran, or ISIS-controlled areas in Syria or Congo? For example, how would sexism be related to climate change, Bambi wonders?

She thought global warming would perhaps differently affect us on a geographic basis more than anything else.

Intersectionality (a term our own Prime Minister used lately) may be a double-edged sword: At times, it makes sense to think about how adversities can (and do) overlap. However, at other times, these concepts would be simply totally unrelated. It would be actually illogical to assume otherwise.

For instance, Michael Lifshitz is from a certain ethno-linguistic background (Jewish anglophone from Montreal), now an Ottawa citizen. He is physically disabled. He could have been trans or gay, Native or descendant of settlers…. But, for God’s sake, how would all this make his disability more disabling?

Of course, if there is a flooding or a fire, Michael would be more vulnerable to the natural disaster BUT ONLY because of his disability and perhaps a non-accessible transportation.

However, thankfully, capitalism would most likely allow him to be creative in finding (and affording!) preventive solutions or ideas to minimize consequences. Capitalism can also allow his loved ones to be able to assist him as well.

If capitalism can help Bambi’s friend in surviving natural disasters (with or without a climate crisis), Bambi would have another reason to appreciate capitalism’s benefits.

Bambi hopes more and more people in the world can be as prosperous as us Canadians.

She also hopes we will know how to diversify our economy whilst respecting our environment.  

For the latter, thanks to all those who genuinely care for our planet.

Bambi hopes that no one will fall into the trap of repeating slogans without a reality check from time to time, especially against the specific context of our region and our country.

In our “noble” efforts to be engaged citizens, let’s avoid enslaving ourselves in our own slogans, that is without questioning the meaning of each word we chant, say, or repeat.

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