Consider one of the major problems of modernity in wealthy countries: obesity. Where our ancestors starved, our problem today is that we have too many cheap, tasty calories. And today, literally, is a perfect example. Mark Perry of the American Enterprise Institute reports that, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation, the inflation-adjusted cost of a Thanksgiving meal “is lowest since 2010 and 26% lower than 1986 .” Using average hourly wages, he notes that the “time cost “– the number of hours you would have to work to be able to afford the meal–has fallen by a third from 3.21 hours to 2.14 hours since 1986.
Kevin Williamson is thankful for markets . A slice:
Here is a truth that almost never is spoken: All of the money that ever has been saved and invested in profit-seeking productive business enterprises has done incalculably more for the poor — more by many orders of magnitude — than has all of the money that ever has been put to charitable uses, formal or informal, mainly by preventing them from ever being poor in the first place. That saving and investment, and the innovation and labor that have gone along with them, are the only thing in the history of this little blue planet that has made its inhabitants less poor. Of course we invite the hungry to our table. A hell of a lot of good it would do if we didn’t have anything to put on their plates other than nice intentions or sanctimonious sentiments.
But in the midst of the era of classical liberal reform [during the 19th century], there emerged two counter-revolutions, both of which claimed that they were the “true” revolutionary movements to fulfill higher and more meaningful senses of freedom and social justice. These were socialism and nationalism. Both of them had part of their modern origins in the French Revolution, during which the nation now claimed the allegiance of the people in place of loyalty to the king, who had been overthrown and beheaded, and in the wars to save the revolution from foreign monarchs attempting to crush it, which required every French citizen to place the war-planning needs of the national collective over those of individual interest.
Suppose Americans are buying Chinese travel luggage for $25 per piece, and the dollars end up under China’s Great Wall. What is going on here? Americans are getting travel luggage and the Chinese are getting pieces of paper that, as far as the United States is concerned, are easily produced at relatively low cost. In other words, Americans get travel luggage in exchange for extra turns of the printing press crank at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Sounds like a good deal for Americans if you ask me.