When I was little, my family was very poor. The lack of money was always an issue. Housing was always an issue.
Ok, let's back up to before I was born. My family belonged in the wealthy elite in my country of origin (hint: SE Asia). Then back in 1975 (hint hint) the communists won the war. Everything was taken from my family and key members of my family were sent to "reeducation camps", including my father. 7 years later, I guess he was "reeducated" because they finally let him out. Hence, I'm 8 years younger than my brother.
Few Americans, including the ones who are in intergenerational poverty, have trouble understanding the level of poverty that we were in. I grew in such an environment. Without knowing the existence of the various economic philosophies out there, my view was more or less in line with communism. Growing up, I strongly believed that the government should be helping us, giving us food, housing, and jobs.
When we finally immigrated over here to the US as political refugees, I brought these beliefs with me. We were on food stamps at first, but my parents got us off it only after a couple years after we came over here. Don't get me wrong, we were still dirt poor living in crime ridden neighborhood. I didn't really understand why my parents insisted on getting off public assistance ASAP like that at the time.
I carried these beliefs, that everything should be redistributed so that everyone can prosper, through my high school years and then well into my college years. I think my views sort of eased off from the extremes and into more of a moderate position like socialism. But overall, I still saw the government as the source to solve all problems. If only we just get it right, I thought.
My views eased off some more and I grew more towards the center as I started working in the professional world. I worked as a programmer after college. Hated it so I became a cop. After a couple years, I quit and went back to grad school. Got my engineering degree and started working as an engineer.
This was when I met my husband. This time, I was in my mid to late 20s while my husband was fresh out of high school. He, too, grew up in an impoverished household so he had similar views as I did when I was his age. His favorite tv show to watch at the time was house flippers on HGTV. I asked him what he wanted to do with his life and he said he wanted to flip houses. I think this was the genesis of my future business idea.
By this time, he had moved in with me. I sent him off to college and as he went through college his views also evolved from the more extreme ideas of the government solving everything.
Fast forward to last year, we started an investment company together and shortly after that became financially independent. Quit my 6 figures job as an engineer (everyone around me said I was crazy to leave the security of a full time job like that) to laser focus on our own company.
As you can imagine, I love capitalism nowadays. My views about how people should live hasn't changed. I still want everyone to prosper. But unlike before, I don't see the government as the source of this prosperity. I want everyone to be able to uplift themselves out of poverty. Hence, I try to spread my message as much as possible, that entrepreneurship ought to be embraced.
See, having been dirt poor before, looking back I see a lot of misconceptions that the poor have. One is hard work will make you prosper. If this was true, the world would be run by coal miners and ditch diggers. I think everyone has it in him/her to generate wealth and make him/herself prosper. The kicker is people need to change their mindset first.
There is a term coined by psychologists. Learned helplessness. I'm sure you all have heard this term before. I was trapped in this state of mind for a while. My younger self believed that there was no way I could have prosper on my own, that I needed the government to redistribute the wealth to me. Never did I ever think I would own the number of properties that I own nowadays. I own 11 buildings outright with no loan or anything attached to them... except property tax that I have to pay every 6 months. It was a combination of hard work and maneuvering. Again, one simply cannot get to this level of ownership if one is trapped in the mindset that the government redistributing wealth is the only way to make one prosper.
By the way, did you catch the irony that after the communists had taken everyone from my family and made us dirt poor like everyone else that I, too, became a communists without knowing? Communism and socialism is very hypnotic and attractive to those who are helpless.
I am now 35. So, I've been fortunate enough to have gotten out of the learned helplessness mindset early enough in my life. Can you imagine all the innovations and ingenuity stifled by learned helplessness out there? I have a strong urge in me to try to help people get out of the mindset that they need help from the government. Articles like this one
It seems that the best economy - ie the system that makes the most people the happiest - is a democracy with a liberal, pluralistic economy, quite high taxation, high levels of education, healthcare, justice and social systems and a relatively small gap between the poorest paid and the highest.
There is no need for extremes of wealth and poverty.
Je suis Charlie. Je suis Ahmed. Je suis Juif. Je suis Parisien. I am Mancunian. I am Brum. I am London.I am Finland. Soy Barcelona
"Life, don't talk to me about life" - Marvin the Paranoid Android
"Science adjusts it's views based on what's observed. Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved." - Tim Minchin, in his beat poem, Storm.