Capitalism Works For Me

Steve Lambert in Times Square Photo By: Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times
Steve Lambert in Times Square
Photo By: Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times

On September 20 the above scoreboard appeared in Times Square. This piece, titled “Capitalism Works for Me! (True/False)”, was created by Steve Lambert as part of the Crossing the Line arts festival held in New York City from Sept 19 – Oct 13. Lambert claims the piece is an attempt to get people to talk about capitalism and inequality without sounding like a crazy person. Throughout the day people lined up to vote on whether or not they felt that capitalism worked for them. The New York Times reports that young people, European tourists, and people in working-class jobs tended to vote “false” while older people, people from “red” states, and wealthier people tended to vote “true.” I don’t think anyone was surprised by this. At the end of the day the vote came out at 93 for capitalism, and 109 against. When I first saw this, my first reaction was: so what? A lot of people like capitalism. A lot of people don’t. I knew that. But I think this piece is powerful not in what it is telling us, but in how it is telling us this. Throughout the day more than 200 people stopped by to “vote.” And not one of them was exactly alike. This idea, that 200 people could come together in the middle of a street and talk about something that effects each and every one of them differently, and that these thoughts could go up on a giant sign for every one in the world to see, is an extremely powerful one. Lambert got people to talk about something that people don’t like to talk about: money. He got them to talk about it in a way that made sure that they would be heard. And probably only a few of them thought he was a crazy person.

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