Your Breakfast Courtesy of Self-interested Strangers

A semi-frequent topic for me in this space is the importance of business and free enterprise. As a student of economic systems and of history, it’s clear to me that some economic philosophies and systems are superior to others, while acknowledging that no economic system is perfect.

I’m on this topic again because of the recent polls indicating a small majority of young adults would prefer to live under socialism than capitalism. That sentiment is even being espoused by some newly elected members of Congress.

Best I can tell, the thinking is that socialism is somehow ‘fairer’ and ‘kinder’ than capitalism. The former depends in large part on government redistributing wealth while the latter depends on individuals to voluntarily engage with each other.

There’s nothing kind about the government forcibly taking money from one person and giving it to another. And in the process of doing so, they extract a significant share of that money to run inefficient bureaucracies. This is not an anti-government screed. It’s just a learned belief that government plays an important role in civil society, but the most important needs of the vast majority of people are met by business.

Think about what you ate for breakfast this morning. A few of you raised the chicken who laid the egg you ate. You may have even raised the wheat, ground the flour and baked the bread for your toast.

But 99.9999999999 percent of us bought those things at the grocery store, which in turn bought them from a wholesaler who bought them from a farmer. In between were truckers, grocery stockers, and others who brought those things to a convenient location near you at a price you were willing to pay. In other words, the price signals and profit motives of the capitalist system incented a bunch of strangers to help feed you.

Government’s role in that includes food safety inspections, providing the highways which are patrolled by law enforcement officers, etc. But government did not produce the egg and bread.

Business matters, free enterprise matters, the entire capitalist system works and taking it all for granted, or worse, attacking it, is the road to peril. Just do a search for ‘crisis in Venezuela’ for a lesson on how socialism really works.

To all of you bringing the eggs, bread, and thousands of other things we use daily, thank you, thank you, and thank you.

To cap this off, I recommend this article from American Institute for Economic Research titled How Self Interest Builds Prosperity and Community.

Oddly enough, self-interest is extremely benevolent.