There’s always something to howl about

Reasons to be cheerful, Part 2.5: It’s raining soup and all you can do is piss and moan that Big Mother hasn’t given you a free bowl.

Take note: If you slaved away for 152 hours at an ordinary job in 1964, you could have bought yourself this classy stereo from Radio Shack:

Put in the same 152 hours in 2010, at the same kind of job, and you can buy this much stuff instead:

This is the power of (relatively) free markets. Not only can you buy more stuff, better stuff, stuff that was completely unobtainable in 1964, at the same time very smart people have figured out how to make you much more productive than you would have been in 1964.

Chances are you had almost nothing to do with this incredible productive miracle. If you are like most Americans, your major exports are half-digested junk food and bitter lamentations about the unseemly unfairness of everything for everyone, everywhen and everywhere. But this simple example, provided by The Enterprise Blog at the American Enterprise Institute, illustrates what has really been going on in your life, while you have been so busy complaining about how horrible everything is.

We are puerile as a race, about which I will have much more to say later. But even if you are thoroughly grown up in your own thinking, it’s good odds that you have spent your entire life looking at the world upside down, concentrating with a dour dread on everything that does not matter while blithely ignoring everything that does.

Do you want a very good reason to be cheerful? The world outside your mind is all but entirely wonderful, a thing of beauty and infinite splendor. It’s only that world inside your mind that is a mess. I’m thinking it’s time you cleaned house. How about you?

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14 Comments so far

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  2. Jeff Brown June 25th, 2010 5:17 pm

    As a man thinks, so he is.

  3. Chris Johnson June 26th, 2010 10:18 pm

    even funnier is that with an iphone, most of that shit is irrelevant.

  4. Greg Swann June 27th, 2010 10:25 am

    > even funnier is that with an iphone, most of that shit is irrelevant.

    I’ll go you one better: What’s you investment in fixed capital in your business? It might be over $3,000, but it need not be. A wannabe Realtor with serious hi-tech aspirations can get everything she needs — pre-licensing, license, NAR extortion fees, MLS membership, laptop, printer/scanner/fax and an iPhone or Droid — all for less than $3,000. In other words, any ambitious person working a going-nowhere job can go into business for herself in exchange for 152 hours of labor.

    How cool is that?

  5. Alex Cortez June 27th, 2010 2:20 am

    Free markets, the cornerstone of our foundation.

  6. rob June 28th, 2010 12:44 pm

    But what about the 100+/mo cable,80+/mo ATT,65+/mo mobile net,29/mo XM,etc?
    Just the monthly nut to operate these techie marvels far exceeds their acquisition costs in a relatively short amount of time.

    Radio Shack Audio Net probably received 3 channels, all free.

  7. Greg Swann June 28th, 2010 1:19 pm

    Here’s the original quote, from Brendan Behan:

    If it was raining soup, the Irish would go out with forks.

    I’ll give you a metric economists wouldn’t think to compare: Mean Time Between Failures. Everything is better — except for anything touched by the dead hand of the state. Can I bring you a second fork?

  8. Sean June 28th, 2010 5:22 pm

    Good thing I’m saving so much because as a small business owner I need it to pay for health care, and of course bank bailouts, and tax credits for my fellow citizens (and citizens of Greece and the rest of the PIGS and who knows who else compliments of the IMF and FED central bank currency swaps). Don’t make too much fuss about the G20, its all good.

  9. Mike June 30th, 2010 8:48 pm

    I would like to see a photo comparison of the average American in 1964 and today.

    While one group of smart people at Apple came up with really cool gadgets you really want to use, another group of really smart people at McDonalds figured how to make cheap food that you really want to eat. Too bad all that cheap crap is making us fatter and unhealthier than all those loser socialists!

  10. Greg Swann June 30th, 2010 9:01 pm

    Wow, what a delight it must be to live inside your mind…

  11. Jim Klein July 1st, 2010 8:21 am

    “Too bad all that cheap crap is making us fatter and unhealthier than all those loser socialists!”

    Just out of curiosity Mike, do you also believe that pencils misspell words?

    BTW you can relax a bit. None of that cheap crap is making me even an ounce fatter nor is it making me a drop unhealthier. I’m not sure what you do with that, but it should make the world about 1/7-billionth better in your view.

    Hope that helps; have a great holiday!

  12. Mike July 1st, 2010 12:55 pm

    The point I was trying to make is that capitalism also has a down side.

    Materially, we have never been better off. However, in other ways, Americans are not doing all that well. A few examples:

    Credit card companies make money when we go into debt. They keep raising credit limits, and flood our mail system with credit card applications. Their goal is to make as much profit as possible. The result? Record banking profits and record household debt (until the recession anyway).

    Fast food companies serve up very tasty, cheap, habit forming junk food. The result? Record fast food profits, and record obesity rates.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like capitalism. I travelled through parts of eastern Europe before the fall of communism, and saw how depressing and delapidated things were. I would never choose to live under such a system. However, I also saw things there that were actually better than here (in my opinion anyway). Divorce rates were very low. Parents had plenty of time to spend with their kids. There was almost no crime. People weren’t in debt, stress wasn’t evident and they were physically fit. Of course, now that they are capitalists, that’s all changing.

  13. Jim Klein July 1st, 2010 2:35 pm

    “The point I was trying to make is that capitalism also has a down side.”

    Yes, I know. That’s why I’m trying to highlight this error! Capitalism is just individuals engaging their personal judgments on all matters, and trading their values with others. A bunch of positives can’t add to a negative.

    “Fast food companies serve up very tasty, cheap, habit forming junk food. The result? Record fast food profits, and record obesity rates.”

    No, those are two particular results you’re choosing to see. You didn’t count the millions of low skilled jobs, the billions in investments and construction, the vendors (and their employees and investments) and the stimulus to local economies…to name just a few positives.

    As far as obesity, I conclude that an obese person ultimately prefers to be obese than the alternative. So in the context of him getting what he wants, I think that’s a positive too. Apparently you believe your preference for non-obesity is preferable /for them/ than their choice of obesity, but that just brings up the question of why you think obese people are stupid. Do you have any basis for that assumption?

  14. Mike July 1st, 2010 5:25 pm

    I don’t believe that people are primarily rational creatures who weigh the pros and cons of every choice. Some do. If everyone did, then pure capitalism would work like a dream. And advertising would simply state the facts instead of trying to create an image.

    How many people bought houses at the height of the bubble? Did they sit down and evaluate if they could afford it? Did they do a rent vs. own analysis? Did they research historical price to income or affordability ratios? Or were they just chasing the “dream of home ownership”? Or did they fall in love with granite and stainless steel?

    As far as obese people making a conscious decision to be obese, you have got to be joking! People eat junk because it’s cheap, fast and tastes good. And it’s a proven fact that people crave high calorie, greasy, salty food. It’s a product of our evolution, not a conscious, rational choice. I’ve never known anyone to say; “I really wish I were heavier, I think I need to eat more junk food!”.