Alberto Mingardi, writing over at EconLog, points us to a fine new essay by Chris Berg. Like Alberto, I, too, especially applaud this passage:
But the true genius of the market economy isn’t that it produces prominent, highly publicized goods to inspire retail queues, or the medical breakthroughs that make the nightly news. No, the genius of capitalism is found in the tiny things — the things that nobody notices.
Competitive markets work so smoothly and silently that they fool us modern folk into thinking that the lives we lead are normal – fool us into thinking that poverty (rather than wealth) has causes; fool us into supposing that people my age (almost 55), because we still have all of our teeth and aren’t remotely yet decrepit, are “middle-aged” rather than old, ancient, nearly dead by historical standards; fool us into believing that possession by each person of several changes of clean, washable clothes is the norm; fool us into imagining that living under a solid roof atop solid walls joined to solid floors is natural; fool us into forgetting that starvation and malnutrition were in store for distressingly large numbers of our ancestors; fool us into worrying about the fact that someone has multiple more zeroes in his or her bank account than we have in ours rather than recognize that even the most ordinary of us today enjoy a material standard of living immeasurably higher than was dreamed of by any of our pre-industrial ancestors – and higher even, along many dimensions, than was enjoyed by the likes of Cleopatra, Louis XIV, and J.D. Rockefeller.