It was a normal morning for me. My 4:30am alarm stabbed a knife in my brain as usual. I rolled around on my king-sized bed, willing myself to stand up, finally walked to my sink, turned on the faucet, and splashed my face with warm water. I rode in my roommates Jeep to the gym, where we lifted a variety of heavy metal objects. My sweat was soaking into both the t-shirt from the Broadway production of Lion King I refuse to throw away and the hinge on my custom-sized, orchid-pink knee brace. “It needs some WD-40,” I thought as it squeaked on the walk back to the car. When we got home, I got out my frozen bananas, and dumped them into the blender with ice, chocolate flavored protein powder, and water exactly 34 degrees Fahrenheit. This particular morning, I had to open a fresh jar of creamy peanut butter (it smooths out the texture of the smoothie). I go through about two jars a month. I hit blend and waited as the four small blades went to work. 25,000 RPMs easy. It was as I was pouring my smoothie into my over-sized Houston Texans Souvenir cup that I was struck by marvel of my morning.
The morning I described is my average, and it’s not a particularly earth-shattering way of life to most Americans (except perhaps the 4:30am part). My amenities are anything but opulent when compared to the typical U.S. citizen. But the components of my smoothie really floored me. Just think! A mere 200 years ago, the fact that I drink a frozen smoothie every day would easily put me in the royalty class.
I just took an imported fruit, put it in my self-contained coldness chamber until it froze, dropped it in a cup with blades that spin too fast to see, along with ice– ICE! I have access to ICE virtually whenever I want, and no one had to break their back cutting it out of frozen rivers to ship it to me! Then I added in peanut butter (which didn’t even exist 300 years ago) because the miracle I’m experiencing doesn’t have the right consistency to suit my refined tastes.
But it’s not just the smoothie. It’s everything about my morning. A smart phone for an alarm, a KING-sized bed, a device to import water into my house… Automobiles and gyms… Broadway and custom-sized and custom-colored knee braces… WD-40… and the fact that I’m doing all of this in Texas, which would melt me without the downright normal luxury of “air conditioning.”
All of this, this entire way of life, would be either impossible or reserved for the wealthiest man alive a mere 200 years ago, and I, who earn less than $30,000 a year, can live like this every day.
It is only possible because of one thing: Capitalism.
Capitalism makes my smoothie possible. If it weren’t for voluntary cooperation and exchange of goods, then the wonder of my way of life is far-fetched fantasy. I have Capitalism, and a little bit of personal budget management, to thank for my lifestyle. Capitalism is the force that took a KING-sized bed, as in, a surface on which only a king might sleep, and made it available to the commoner for a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of his yearly income.
I was reminded this morning of the time Boris Yeltsin visited a Randall’s grocery store in Clear Lake Texas, and the photos of his face and the questions he asked were a stark reminder of why Capitalism is so amazing. And that was a Randall’s! Randall’s pretty much don’t exist anymore in Texas because the competition of the free-market made bigger and better grocery stores rise up and provide better services at a cheaper price to more people. (They also solve hurricane relief when city government won’t. Thank’s HEB!)
It’s innovation, driven by the free-market, that put that look on Yeltsin’s face.
Don’t get me wrong. Capitalism’s not the best economic system possible. That would be a monarchy where the one on the throne is omnibenevolent, and that governmental system is on it’s way, for sure. But until it gets here, Capitalism is the best we have.
It boggles my mind that there are enough people who want to trade this in for communism that we actually hear about it.
The freedom of capitalism or the slavery of communism really does boil down to this: do you want smoothies, or do you want to starve? Take your pick.