Alexander Hamilton

To prepare for the stage musical, Hamilton–which I have tickets to at the end of August–I have begun reading Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. The paperback version that I have has 731 pages, which means I need to read 24.4 pages per day in order to finish it before I see the show. It’s doable. I think.

It’s a fitting time to study Hamilton, whose singular vision of a world bustling in trade, industry, stock markets and banking is fully expressed in modern America. Indeed, it was Hamilton’s work that shaped our military, banks, and financial institutions. Furthermore, it was Hamilton who envisioned the magnitude of the federal government’s powers. Over two centuries later, we are still living in Hamilton’s America. The interplay between capitalism and government is indisputably Hamiltonian.

From a personal viewpoint, I have lately begun to question whether capitalism is a good fit for our world going forward. In simplistic terms, capitalism values private ownership and profits. In today’s 7-billion-plus populated world, those ideas of competition as an engine of wealth begin to harshly chafe against all-too-real issues of poverty, stagnating wages, limited natural resources, shrinking habitable land, not to mention a polluted environment. While capitalism undoubtedly pushed societal progress in the form of the Industrial Revolution and brought on the Internet Economy, it accentuates very primal traits in humans: that of the urge for mass consumption and the need to win. We now live in a world where there is enough for everyone, truly. There is no good reason why there should be anyone in poverty. But there is. We come into the world with nothing and we will die without being able to take anything with us. Yet, we spend our entire lifetime trying to amass property.

Of course, the world is complicate. Solutions are not easy. And truth be told, not everyone is motivated to live in a world where everyone does well.