You may be a capitalist if …

A handy test for anti-capitalists

Jeffrey Denny
5 min readApr 10, 2024


Jeffrey Denny

A Washington Post reader was triggered.

He hated a Post front-page story, “In Wis., a vote for Biden or Trump could come down to grocery prices.”

As he huffed in his letter to the editor:

“While consumers pay the cost of — and inaccurately blame President Biden for — the price gouging,” he wrote, “the true source of unaffordable milk, meat and eggs sits in sleek corporate boardrooms, plotting the next price increase to coincide with the next quarterly earnings call.”

From his LinkedIn, the writer is a prototypical college-educated Washington professional nonprofit political policy advocate. It doesn’t appear he’s ever sat in a sleek corporate boardroom witnessed the plotting of price increases or even listened to a quarterly earnings call. Ignorance is strength, like Orwell said and MAGAs believe.

Of course, the advocate’s deliciously riling scenario was merely a sophomoric figment of his fevered imagination you’d expect and bunny-pat if from a high school sophomore.

We see this a lot on the left where I try to ally.

Proud fear and loathing of capitalism runs amok among righteous progressives who equate capitalism with greed, evil and destruction.

Many have never started or run a business, employed anyone, made payroll, struggled to balance profits and losses, paid rising business taxes to fund social programs or commercial rents to landlords who also need to make ends meet, or dealt with financial regulations or risked fines.

Meanwhile, countless independent, bootstrapping, upstart and minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses, entrepreneurs and influencers strive mightily to make it, hoping the sky’s the limit. Like so many top corporate founders have done throughout history.

As a firm Biden supporter and lifelong Democrat, I agree that blaming him for grocery prices is beyond idiotic. Especially since Biden tamed inflation, defied apocalyptic warnings by economists and Fox News of a coming bottomless recession, and boosted jobs and Wall Street to record highs — a key Democratic talking point.

Altogether Biden — like most Democratic presidents — rescued the leaking bag of garbage economy his Republican predecessor handed him.

Capitalism certainly demands constant policing to protect consumers, the public and the economy from Wall Street wolves and criminal billionaires like Donald Trump and Sam Bankman-Fried.

To work well, capitalism needs to operate fairly, reliably and effectively to raise the tide that lifts all boats, as JFK said and Reagan misused to lower taxes and regulations to further enrich the rich.

But progressive anti-capitalism is pompous condescension and classic biting the hand that feeds.

Worried you might be a conflicted anti-capitalist capitalist?

Take this simple test:

1. Do you work for a liberal nonprofit?

Like the Post letter writer?

His employer is “a group of hundreds of high-net-worth Americans who are committed to making all Americans, including themselves, better off by building a more prosperous, stable, and inclusive nation.”

It’s wonderful that this tax-exempt 501(c)(3) donor tax shelter “focuses on promoting public policy solutions that encourage political equality, guarantee a sustaining wage for working Americans, and ensure that millionaires, billionaires, and corporations pay their fair share of taxes.”

Note that the high-net-worth founders already got their pile. Perhaps from “sitting in sleek corporate boardrooms, plotting the next price increase to coincide with the next quarterly earnings call.”

Noblesse oblige, bestowing largesse upon the working class amassed from their labors, is a great privilege of wealth and strategy to moralize it.

If I were given to cheap-shot rhetoric, I would suggest the nonprofit staffer is suckling at the corporate teat while calling it beneath him.

Many nonprofits raise and depend on wealthy capitalists. See Double the Donation’s “Top 51 Popular Companies That Donate to Nonprofits.” Find climate pariah BP on the list, giving for “practical approaches to environmental issues.” Chevron too because it’s “committed to promoting sustainability.”

This queasy deal involves a bit of unspoken shakedown on one side and brand-washing on the other.

Right now, sleek corporate boardrooms may be plotting a strategic partnership with a liberal nonprofit to coincide with the next quarterly earnings call.

2. Are you a liberal college graduate?

Again, thank corporate capitalism.

Surely if you graduated Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Princeton and other top Ivys and sticker-shock elite private colleges.

They all enjoy multibillion-dollar endowments fueled by generous gifts from America’s wealthiest and mostly white male patriarchy class, and plow the money into the best-returning investments. Which can’t all be ESG stock portfolios when many underperform and investment earnings make up 20% of college operating revenues.

In short, even the most progressive colleges raise money from corporate capitalists and then hand it over to their corporate capitalist money managers to invest in corporate capitalism. How else to fund professors, scholarships and courses that “interrogate” capitalism?

And if your parents could afford your $400,000 gender studies degree, chances are pretty good they’re capitalists or from wealthy capitalist families.

3. Are your parents financially secure?

Do they have retirement savings? Investment accounts? Health savings accounts? Education savings accounts that helped pay for your college?

If so, their capitalist blessings are your blessings. Have some respect even if you’re above their capitalist grind for the money to raise you.

4. Are you in the market like most Americans?

Nearly 60% own stock, a Federal Reserve consumer survey found. Most through their retirement funds.

Pew Research found that 80% of over-$100,000 household earners were invested in stocks. So were 66% with median incomes starting at $53,000 and even 20% below $35,000.

Even 50–60% of union pension funds are invested in the stock market.

The Biden Bull Market and his record Dow is boosting wealth across the board — including for unions, nonprofits, colleges and most families — recovering losses from the Trump tax-cut sugared high and then Covid collapse.

We, as shareholders, humble or not, are why sleek corporate boardroom denizens fret about revenues.

In other words, we have met the corporate enemy and he is us, to borrow from the old Walt Kelly cartoon strip Pogo.

As shareholders, we own these companies, the CEOs and the boards. Owning shares lets us — whether through rapacious investor activists or do-gooder progressive activists — run these companies.

Thanks to our demand for the best return possible — call it greed? — a company’s stock will drop like a loaded diaper if the CEO fails to meet our shareholder expectations. The board in turn will drop the CEO.

Do the rich benefit more than 99% of America? They sure do. Should they pay a lot more taxes from their wealth? Yep. And their tax lawyers and accountants are working hard on how not to.

But before we slam capitalism, let’s ask ourselves how we benefit, lest we seem stupid or hypocritical.

By the way, you know the Wall Street sculpture Fearless Girl standing defiantly against Charging Bull?

Fearless Girl was commissioned by the $23 billion net worth State Street investment bank that manages over $40 trillion in global assets. The firm also paid around $164 million in criminal penalties in three separate cases of defrauding or overcharging clients.

The sculptor sold replicas for as much as $250,000 in violation of her contract with State Street. The Charging Bull sculptor said Fearless Girl exploited his work for commercial purposes. Women criticized Fearless Girl as “corporate feminism,” misusing feminism for commercial purposes.

Capitalists! What can you do?

Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer.



Jeffrey Denny

A Pullet Surprise-winning writer who always appreciates free chicken.