The Kardashians are a Threat to Capitalism

Joseph Kukral, Op/Ed Editor

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Just recently, Kylie Jenner, one of five daughters from the famed E-network reality television series “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” was named the youngest self-made billionaire in the world. Forbes magazine pegged Jenner’s net worth at $1 billion as of the beginning of March 2019. One must admit how challenging and unlikely it was for Jenner to reach this unbelievable feat. Assuredly, the odds were not at all in her favor. Just like the steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, Jenner built her fortune scrupulously, applying an exceptional business ingenuity and an unflagging entrepreneurial spirit that undoubtedly separates her from other executives. Obviously, such statements are totally absurd.

Jenner can best explain her fortune by incredible luck and not hard work. She is lucky insofar as she can fall into a sewer and come up with gold watches in both hands. Because of the network her family has assembled, Jenner is endowed with an unbelievable set of valuable connections that only an idiot could not become wealthy with. These connections include fashion merchandisers and designers, TV producers, music producers, advertising firms and business consulting agencies. Furthermore, when considering the connections the Kardashian family possesses, much of it derives from the fact they are famous for simply being famous and nothing else. In fact, the Kardashians’ rise to stardom really went full-swing in February 2007, when a sex tape of Kim Kardashian and Ray-J was leaked to the public. Shortly thereafter in October 2007, E-network launched “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” – a television reality series that has aired for over 12 years.

The reality series has provided the Kardashians a foundational consumer base to market their brand and fashion merchandise to. It lacks the exceptional attributes of other high-end fashion brands, but earns greater sales and prestige for its celebrity affiliation. In essence, social media has offered an illegitimate way for faux-celebrities to reap millions, when truthfully, they offer very little economic value. Without social media and the cult of personality it promotes, the Kardashians would be worth peanuts. Actually, without Kim’s sex tape, the same assertion may be true. Unlike Carnegie, who built industries that improved the efficiency of and added value to society, Jenner is merely sucking value from it. And this leads to a concern about capitalism and its future role as a system that organizes society.

Similar to democracy, the institution of capitalism to an extent is based on trust and legitimacy. No one knowingly does business with a con-artist or those who high-hand other transacting parties. Furthermore, no one appreciates fortunes that are made illegitimately without merit. Capitalism is rooted in the individual producing some sort of value for others in exchange for value in return, often through the proper functioning of free markets. Highly correlated with this theory is the Protestant work ethic. Typically, in order for capitalism to be worthy as a system, individuals must succeed and increase their wealth by merit and through hard work. If achieved otherwise, others tend to feel the system is rigged. Jenner’s fortune is evidence of ersatz capitalism, or an inferior performance of a truly novel system. All of her most valuable assets and opportunities were easily available to her without any effort required. The illegitimate fortune of Kylie Jenner threatens capitalism because once individuals determine the system is rigged in favor of those who merely have connections, they turn to other inferior systems of societal organization, such as socialism or even communism.

According to a Gallup poll, only 45 percent of millennial Americans between ages 18 to 29 view capitalism favorably while 51 percent of them view socialism favorably. No American should take this lightly. Actually, Americans should  abhor at the prospect of upending a system that has lifted more individuals out of poverty than any other system in the history of the world. There should be no question as to whether capitalism is the best means to organize society. Of course, there are instances when government intervention produces a more efficient outcome than free markets, as is the case with public education, public utilities or maybe even the market for health insurance. Nevertheless, capitalism usually produces the best outcomes.

If we continue to allow individuals like the Kardashians to erode the legitimacy of capitalism, it will not be long until politicians and larger amounts of voters will demand outright socialism. New York U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has brandished capitalism as inferior to socialism on multiple occasions, which is just the beginning of an insidious effort to undermine our prized and coveted capitalist system. When listening to her speak on the matter, one must wonder if she even understands how capitalism works considering that her knowledge of bartending is all that she has to inform her opinion.

Kylie Jenner is a cancer of our capitalist society that must be stamped out, lest socialism will be bearing on us for the dreadful menace that it is. Self-made? Yeah, I do not believe that for a second. Honestly, Jenner should attribute at least half her fortune to Ray-J for his consequential performance on the screen.