Be honest, you really want more.
We complain that the internet is too slow because we want more, more information, to download more songs, movies, and information on every subject. No amount of information is really too much.
We want more varieties of food, wine, clothes, shoes, and sweaters. We want fresh flowers, fresh fish, fresh bread, and new cars with ambient lighting (thanks Volkswagen). We want overnight delivery and the newest fashions from all over the world.
The libraries are going online, art galleries and theater and sports complexes are also. The world of Commerce has made the shift, and it is opening the world to us by the day. We can call anyone anywhere and can link with anyone in the world through instant messaging, and email has become the medium that makes all communication possible. We are abandoning landline telephones and other 20th-century tech for far superior modes of information technology.
We want speed. We want wireless. We want access. And improvements. Clean and filtered water must flow from our refrigerators. We want energy drinks, sports drinks, and underground spring water from Fiji. We want homes. We want safety and security. We want service.
We want Choice.
How is this happening? Through human production and distribution, something called the market economy, a hive of billions of people cooperating and innovating to make better lives for themselves. Entrepreneurs and capitalists working to win the hearts and minds of the consuming public.
The progressive left, drunk on socialist democracy theory, denounces this as horrid materialistic consumerism. In reality though, by being able to choose, to consume, to be able to purchase goods and services with our own money in order to improve the human condition, creates a system that serves the common man rather than just the elites, the rulers, and the powerful.
Economic science shows that billions of unplanned economic choices create a global system of production and distribution that serves everyone.
Are we buying a bunch of stuff we really don’t need? Of course, we are—because things are fun, we want them and they make us happy.
In a market economy, wants and needs are linked so that one person’s necessities are met precisely because other people’s wants are met.
How does that work?
Okay, say you are sick, and there happens to be 24/7 urgent care clinic in a small strip mall down the street. The clinic can afford to stay open late because it shares the mall with a wine store, a used sporting goods store and other shops that sell non-essential goods. All these stores pay rent—the rent is cheap and the access is high. The only reason the clinic even has a spot it can afford is because the developer built it assuming it would be filled with shops selling basically non-essential stuff.
And the computers at the clinic are up-to-date and fast precisely because technicians and entrepreneurs have innovated to meet the demands of gamers and developers, and that tech got cheaper and flowed downstream.
The same point can be made about “luxury goods” and bleeding-edge technologies. The rich acquire them and use them until the bugs are gone, the imitators jump in, capitalists seek out cheaper suppliers, and eventually, prices tumble and the same technology hits the mass market. By purchasing the latest tech, the 1% provide the capital necessary for investment. If you think through any service or good that is widely considered to be a need, you will find that it employs products, technologies, and services that were first created to meet superficial demands.
Does it really matter whether people have access to Whole Foods, Rite-Aid, Target, Bay Creek or the iPhone X? Part of the answer has to do with natural rights: people should be free to choose and buy as they see fit.
John Locke wrote his Second Treatise of Government in 1689 that all individuals are equal in the sense that they are born with certain “inalienable” natural rights. That is rights that are God-given and can never be taken or even given away. Among these fundamental natural rights, Locke said, are “life, liberty, and property.”
Locke believed that the most basic human law of nature is the preservation of mankind. To serve that purpose, he reasoned, individuals have both a right and a duty to preserve their own lives and property.
Locke also argued that individuals should be free to make choices about how to conduct their own lives as long as they do not interfere with the liberty of others. Locke, therefore, believed liberty should be far-reaching.
By “property,” Locke meant more than land and goods that could be sold, given away, but also referred to ownership of one’s self, which included a right to personal well being.
Rehashed rhetoric from hacks like Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama, and Elizabeth Warren is trying to convince more Kool-Aid drinkers that all this could be achieved through centralized government planning (single-payer health coverage, free tuition, guaranteed salary payments, etc.), all while avoiding that vulgar consumption. You know, and that we should strive to get back to nature, stop driving here and there, ride a bike, make a compost pile, raise our own vegetables, unplug our computers, and all become happy hunter-gatherers. This longing for the primitive is nothing but an attempt to cast a pleasing gloss on the inevitable effects of socialist policies. They are telling us to learn to love wealth distribution and poverty.
For people that want to choose poverty, to live off the land and even forgo indoor plumbing, please do. That is a choice everyone should be allowed to make.
But the market economy gives everyone else a choice, for those that want the simple life, but also for those that want to work, build, create, acquire wealth and capital and just be able to buy stuff that they want and makes them happy.