It’s been almost a year since my last “Cleaned by Capitalism” post. Now with the coronavirus infecting people’s brains with all manner of unwarranted notions and irrational fears, let’s reflect yet again on the fact that capitalism has made our lives and our environment far cleaner, much safer, and more pleasant than were the lives of any of our ancestors. Detailed in this series are just a few of the more visible ways that our lives have been, and continue to be, cleaned by capitalism.
And here’s yet one more, pictured here.
As with most of the ways that capitalism cleans our environment, this one, standing alone, is small. But nevertheless it’s real.
Back in the 1970s – that era proclaimed by modern mythology to be the period of peak prosperity for middle America – jars of the likes of peanut butter did not come with paper seals, such as this one, beneath the twist-off-and-on tops. Now such seals are commonplace. They act as an additional barrier to dirt finding its way into the contents of the jars, and to harmful elements being maliciously added.
This small improvement in consumer products almost certainly is not adequately accounted for by statisticians; again, standing alone, its significance is minuscule. Yet it represents an improvement in Americans’ living standards – an improvement, like each of countless other small improvements, easy to miss by those who claim to find that ordinary Americans are today failing to “thrive” as well as did their parents and grandparents a half-century ago.