Capitalism failed to let me starve today. I am eating a salad as I write this. The basis of it is alfalfa sprouts I grew in my kitchen. It started with seeds many capitalists provided me through an amazing dance of synergy and cooperation.
Some of the highlights include farmers tilling fields using machinery they bought from those who specialize in manufacturing and distributing such things. The farmers paid for it using capital they either saved or borrowed or else gathered by inducing others to join them in putting their capital at risk in the hope of receiving returns abundant enough to make it worthwhile. They bore the risk, and I dearly hope they reaped abundant profits so they’ll be there next year when I want to buy more seeds.
I could go on and on, describing the farmers planting and tending their crops, reaping the seeds, sifting them, packaging them and shipping them off to warehouses until they found their way to the retailer from which I bought them. At every step, those involved were careful to control their costs because they knew if the retailer’s price was too high I would buy my seeds elsewhere, and their efforts would be for naught.
My salad consisted of much more than alfalfa sprouts, but each of the ingredients … asparagus, Feta cheese, cucumber, carrots, mushrooms and dressing … have back stories the same as the alfalfa: capitalists working harmoniously and peacefully to bring me food I can afford, motivated to do so by nothing more than a desire to better themselves.
So no starvation for me today. Big failure there! If I were living in a socialist paradise like North Korea or Venezuela, prices would be set by rulers who decide what’s fair based on whatever metrics match their imaginations. Without the authentic price signals generated by capitalism, those who could produce food would not find it in their interests to take the risks and put forth the effort to do so. The rulers would resort to force, threatening the farmers with guns, but the food they produced under those conditions would be pitiful and sparse. Malnutrition would slowly take its toll, and I’d join the piles of corpses historically associated with socialism.
It’s raining and windy and cold today. Capitalism got in the way and failed to expose me to it. I’m sitting here, dry and warm and comfortable. If capitalism hadn’t conspired to bring together all the disparate elements that went into producing my clothing and shelter and furnishing me the electricity and water I need to survive, I would be free to lie down in the desert, naked and dead from hypothermia. It’s shocking to consider how capitalism failed to allow me that!
Today I needed to pick up a few things from the store. Without capitalism I could have walked the four miles (well, except for the part about being dead already from starvation and hypothermia), but capitalism furnished me with a car instead.
Mr. Toyoda founded the Toyota Motor Company many decades ago in hopes of making a lot of money. He was successful, and others who had a little money saw it and wanted a piece of his action. So he allowed them to buy stock, and they got rich too … putting their hard-earned savings at risk to help him manufacture and service superior cars at superior prices. Greedy bastards! And all I got was this highly reliable and economical car.
If I were in the old U.S.S.R., cars would have been manufactured by the State, and with no price competition they would have been far out of my reach. Plus I’m told the old Zivs were pretty shoddy. But at least nobody got rich! Except the Commissars and other Party functionaries, of course.
And now look: I’m alive, well fed and comfortable, and I was able to drive to the store despite the rain. I’m terribly disappointed as I consider the many ways capitalism has failed to allow me to suffer and die today like I could have if I’d had the good fortune to live in a socialist utopia.
I could mention so many more things … such as my ability to send this instantly to the cloud for publishing, making it available to anyone on earth … but the failures of capitalism are so ubiquitous, so rampant and so disgusting I should stop right here before I make you throw up.