Capitalism: On Display in Times Square

It's worth exploring the ways capitalism affects our lives so we can make more informed decisions for improving our economy. That's the goal of a traveling interactive art installation that UFE is supporting in New York City.

Join us on October 6-9 in Times Square! If you want to join the street team, email Maz Ali at [email protected].

UFE's Steve Schnapp (L) facilitates street dialogue on the economy while participants wait to vote at Steve Lambert's "Capitalism: Works for Me! (True/False)."

Steve Lambert — artist, culture jammer, educator, and co-founder of the Center for Artistic Activism — presents passers-by with the statement, "Capitalism: Works for Me!" and asks participants to vote true or false. But, rather than have people cast hair-trigger votes based on ingrained notions, Steve urges some critical thinking and dialogue to get at the ways capitalism helps or hinders our individual circumstances. That's where UFE and our allies come in.

Capitalism, like it or not, is the main system on which the U.S. economy operates...for now, anyway. It is a market-based system that, in ideal circumstances, provides a competitive arena for private businesses to sling goods and services.

The upsides are visible – they're in the hypnosis of your computers, tablets, and smartphones; in the comfort and convenience of your car; in the connections you make and cheap crap you buy online; and it's even in fond memories of family trips to capitalism-inspired sites like Times Square.

The downsides are also plain to see, but they're not often attributed to the system of capitalism itself – they're in the blocks of foreclosed homes, lost 401Ks, Mc"Food" deserts, unfathomable healthcare costs, climbing productivity but stagnant wages, out-of-reach higher education, and other unsavory realities.

"It takes money to make money," right? Our political economic system provides significant advantage to those who have capital to begin with. The Reagan era marked the start of a trend toward freer, less regulated markets – a movement for the heightened influence of capitalism in the global economy.

Since then, our country has fallen victim to historic levels of income and wealth inequality and is becoming a land of haves and have-nots. The question of which category you fall into is complex and riddled with contradictions. But, with the majority of Americans agreeing that inequality has gotten out of hand, we have to more openly examine those complexities and bring the debate more into the public eye.

If you're in or around New York City on October 6-9 between the hours of noon and 7:00 p.m., please join us as a participant or volunteer. Here are select interviews from the opening day of the installation.

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