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I’m a Capitalist

John W. Pinkerton


I guess I'm just an odd duck.  I may be one of the few who sees value in the struggles related to our economic system, but I suspect there are many, particularly of my age, who agree with me.

Growing up, my family had financial ups and downs, but my parents provided for my needs as a young fellow.

Going to high school, I got an old Jeepster Station Wagon, a real piece of work, and later a nice old Cadillac.

I had a job for two summers with the Louisiana Highway Department which paid fifty cents an hour.  I must admit that I wasted most of it on frivolous living.

Money from my family, a series of National Defense Student Loans, and the occasional job helped to pay for my college education at LSU.

After college, because of my draft status, 1A, I was finding it difficult to find a job, so I volunteered for the draft.

I was lucky and spent most of my time in Germany rather than Viet Nam at a monthly rate of from $66 to $90.

When I came home, I had secured a job with a pharmaceutical company as a salesman, which I'm pretty sure would have paid considerably more than my other choice, teaching high school in Somerville, Texas.

Through my younger years, I never thought of myself as poor.  Money, obviously, wasn't a big part of my life, and I was fine with that.

My starting salary as a teacher was---I forget the exact amount---somewhere between $400 and $460 a month before taxes and retirement contributions.  Oh well.

I was able to buy a really old Ford and later a little nicer old Cadillac.  As far as I was concerned, the world was my oyster.

After a couple of years teaching, Linda and I married.  Now, I'm not blaming Linda, but I began to notice that I might be poor.   When you have to sell coke bottles at the end of the month, one begins to suspect that not all is well.

We both decided to continue our education at TAMU.  I picked up a masters and Linda received a bachelors in education.  Although it was cheaper in the late sixties and early seventies, higher education wasn't cheap.  Oh well.

After five years of teaching, I left education to work for my dad's construction business.  That lasted about three months when he closed his business.  Oh well.  I got a job in Pasadena as manager of a business school.  That closed down after about three months.  Oh well.  I got a job at the power plant in Bryan checking all the gauges (Believe me there are a lot of gauges.).  They didn't close down after three months, but I did return to teaching in Somerville.

You may not recall, but this was during the Presidency of Jimmy Carter---inflation was rampant, and I figured even with my five years and a masters that in reality I was making about what I made when I started.

Of course, we ran up a pretty big credit card bill during that year.  Oh, well.

Finally I realized that I had better start making plans for our financial future: we began to make investments.  We ended up with three different programs.  Of course, we didn't have the money invested available for our everyday expenses.  Oh well.

We were renting an old house for $75 a month in Somerville.  I saw the oil boom moving South toward us and realized the $75 a month rent wouldn't last.  We bought the house for $18,000 and paid it off over a ten-year period.

We saved our money and each summer for years spent most of it remodeling the house.

After the house was finished, we felt as though we were home free.  We even began to take two or three day vacations in New Orleans' French Quarter and a couple of times in San Antonio.  Yahoo!

Between our TRS retirement, our investments, and our savings, we came out okay.

We both still pick up a penny when we find one on the street, and I complain about how much men's dress shirts cost now, but the car breaking down is now not a tragedy.

Frankly, I've loved every moment of the struggle in this “horrible” capitalist system. 

One small footnote: along the way I would occasionally ask the Lord to ease up on us just a little: “I know adversity builds character, Lord, but I think I now have enough character to last me a lifetime.”

Frankly, I can't imagine not struggling.  I really don't think the Lord created us so that we can have someone else pay our bills.