Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Everything You Love You Owe to Capitalism

I'm sure that you have had this experience before, or something similar to it. You are sitting at lunch in a nice restaurant or perhaps a hotel. Waiters are coming and going. The food is fantastic. The conversation about all things is going well. You talk about the weather, music, movies, health, trivialities in the news, kids and so on.

The buffet table, which you and your lunch partners only had to walk into a building to find, has a greater variety of food at a cheaper price than that which was available to any living person — king, lord, duke, plutocrat, or pope — in almost all of the history of the world. Not even fifty years ago would this have been imaginable.

All of history has been defined by the struggle for food. And yet that struggle has been abolished, not just for the rich but for everyone living in developed economies.

We owe this scene to capitalism. To put it differently, we owe this scene to centuries of capital accumulation at the hands of free people who have put capital to work on behalf of economic innovations, at once competing with others for profit and cooperating with millions upon millions of people in an ever-expanding global network of the division of labor. The savings, investments, risks, and work of hundreds of years and uncountable numbers of free people have gone into making this scene possible, thanks to the ever-remarkable capacity for a society developing under conditions of liberty to achieve the highest aspirations of the society's members.

Lew Rockwell, Mises Institute


5 Comments:

At 5/20/2008 8:04 AM, Anonymous Is said...

I shall have Chinese today in celebration.

 
At 5/20/2008 5:29 PM, OpenID sethstorm said...

Yet again, quality is left out of the equation. Variety of junk is still junk. The same can be said for goods that cut corners in safety/health/labor standards. The process of dumping tons of junk reduces choice. There might be a one-off that's exhorbitant, but that is the exception.


To put it differently, we owe this scene to centuries of capital accumulation at the hands of
"free people"

...for strange values of "free". That is, they're free to manipulate government against the will of the citizens not of the business stripe.


And yet that struggle has been abolished, not just for the rich but for everyone living in developed economies.

These economists do not see the struggles that still exist. Of course, they redefine liberty to justify long-abandoned practices. That is, if it benefits the god-head speculator.

No thanks, Mises Institute.

 
At 5/21/2008 5:40 AM, Anonymous BJ said...

What is one man's junk is another's fortune. Everyone has the option to buy higher quality goods, but in many cases, it's just not worth paying very much more to buy something of higher quality. It makes more sense to buy the lower quality good and save a good deal of money.

So just because we don't live in a socialist country, the government is manipulated? How is allowing businesses to set their own prices and people free to either buy or not buy manipulation? If it's so unfair, people can open up a "fair" business that should take all the customers of the "unfair" businesses.

What we have to be on guard against is too much consolidation and lack of competition, that's the #1 danger. Competition is the engine that drives capitalism.

The struggles that exist today pale in comparison to the literal struggle for food in the past. Sethstorm cannot appreciate that our poor have more to worry about eating too much than not eating at all. And our poor, the bottom 20%, are actually upper middle class when compared to the rest of the world on a PPP scale. Our poor enjoy a very high living standard relative to others in the world.

No they are not rich and can't live like the rich, but not everyone can be rich, since wealth is relative.

 
At 5/21/2008 3:01 PM, Blogger Executive Slacker said...

sethstorm, what on Earth are you talking about? Where do you buy things? Of course economists see the struggles that still exist. In fact, they pretty accurately predict them based on poor monetary and fiscal policies. Minimum wage and price controls are great examples. Your problem is you fail to disconnect the concept of economics from money. You also fail to admit that the constant quest for more, bigger, better is a basic human instinct that cannot be denied. In other words, you are being quite naive.

 
At 5/21/2008 6:23 PM, OpenID sethstorm said...

What is one man's junk is another's fortune. Everyone has the option to buy higher quality goods, but in many cases, it's just not worth paying very much more to buy something of higher quality
The first part of that I do not contest. I've seen those kind of goods as a stopgap, nothing more. That is, they have a function, but it seems that it is pushing quality out of the way.
The second part is where I have my disagreement. It is one thing to have an actual choice between differing levels of quality from different sources. It is another when that choice only exists where quality is in all practicality, gone. That is, you can only hope to come close.


What we have to be on guard against is too much consolidation and lack of competition, that's the #1 danger.

That is why I am concerned about the manufacturing of some goods. When these goods are made in places that can ignore repeated calls for quality, the problem with consolidation exists.


Where do you buy things?

From a variety of places, with quality and nationality in mind. Cost does come to mind, but the factors of quality and nationality do have an equal impact on my decisions.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home