Capitalism is awesome because it makes us think historical flukes are normal

Café Hayek explains why Capitalism is Awesome – the amazing performance of capitalism fools us into thinking that wonderful living standards we see today are the world-wide norm across history instead of an aberration compared to what happened during preceding thousands of generations.

Wish I could quote the full comment, but that isn’t right, so consider just this. The free market can

..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; …

We also forget 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.

The comment that people today live better than a Rockefeller produced the expected snark. That generated this brilliant comment from Yevdokiya Zagumenova:

Did they [Rockefeller and Louse XIV] have television, smart phones, the internet or air travel? How about cars (modern, climate controlled ones that give us directions, in the case of JDR), …several supermarkets overstuffed with any food they want from pretty much anywhere in the world within a couple of miles of their home? … How about vaccines against diseases we never hear about anymore but are actually devastating like polio, smallpox, rubella, measles, and pertussis? … How did their life expectancy compare to yours?

This is a very short list of items …that JDR and/or Louis XIV couldn’t even dream about. So, I’d rather be even a poor American today than a king in either of those men’s lifetimes.

I agree. It is a radically better life to be a middle-class or working-poor American today that a Rockefeller or Vanderbilt or Louis XIV back then.

Checkout the full post.

Lots of snarky comments from folks whose world view says that government creates wealth while capitalism & free trade destroy an economy. I particularly chuckle at the comments that blame capitalism for the damage caused by crony capitalism, government interference in free trade, and government manipulation of markets. Those are worth skimming for the entertainment value. You can also find a comments from people who actually grasp economics.

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