A Free Market Is the Mother of Invention

Warning: This post contains quasi-political material, and may be considered inappropriate for those with the attention span of a 13-year-old.

I have been worried for some time that our country is becoming more socialist (I’m not going to blame a particular party, though, because both sides have contributed to the problem). It’s pretty obvious that people are expecting more and more intervention from the government in their everyday lives (and yes, I did spend my $900 stimulus check). At this point we could depart for a tangential discussion of welfare-statism and the downfall of Rome, but I’d rather talk about human nature in general.

People are lazy. I know this because I’m a person and, being lazy, I assume most other people are lazy too. Ha. But seriously, I believe the main reason people work hard is to get rich. All those backyard inventors have a dream that someday they’ll perfect the self-microwaving dinner and become an instant millionaire. Now, a socialist government tends to take away that guy’s millions and spread it around, which sounds nice if you’re spending your days sitting in a hammock instead of working. Such a government is always concerned about equality of result rather than equality of opportunity. For example, I saw a news article a few months ago about people in France who simply didn’t want to work and demanded that the government provide housing for them. (Just for the record, I’m not suggesting that we do away with all forms of financial aid; I’m just saying we need to be careful about it.)

Now, how does this relate to the list we’ve been working on? My theory is that these advances which make our lives so much better (remember that I’m speaking of technological rather than social advances here, since some people will be miserable no matter what) tend to occur in economic climates where there is a great deal of freedom. Let’s see if our list supports my theory.

Lasers (without which we wouldn’t have CD players, supermarket scanners, or a lot of medical technology): Developed in 1960, in the U.S.

Transistors (making possible radios, microprocessors, and other electronic devices): 1948, U.S.

Photocopier: 1960-ish, U.S.

Microprocessor (I hope I don’t need to explain this one): 1968, U.S.

DVR (i.e., TiVo): 1999, U.S.

GPS technology: 1960 U.S.

Mobile phones: the initial patents were given in 1908, 1947, and 1978, in the U.S. the first cellular network was established in Japan in 1979.

Microwave oven: 1945, U.S.

(I couldn’t find specific enough information on the advent of automatic flushing toilets or databases.)

Now, GPS technology was developed by the Navy rather than the efforts of individual inventors and entrepreneurs, but the list as a whole is very heavily skewed toward the U.S., which has allowed its citizens a great deal of economic freedom throughout most of its history. I believe that this pattern will hold true regardless of the time we examine—whenever a nation with a free market has existed, more great achievements will come from that nation than any other.

What I was really wondering was if anyone could come up with great advances by individuals in a socialist country. I can’t really come up with any, but they may be out there.

The whole point of this is that we might like it when the government does everything for us (free health care, anyone?), but it’s ultimately better to let people compete and work hard on an individual basis to make our lives better.

Congratulations to anyone who has actually made it through this post. I’ll try to make sure I don’t talk about anything else boring for a while.


Jen said...

Yes, congratulations to me, for I DO have the attention span of a 13-year-old. :) No, I liked it. It was a very interesting read.

Jer said...

Well, the USSR did beat us into space, both unmanned and manned, but it was in the spirit of competition to the US, so..

Joel said...

Right. I was going to mention that socialist governments can still make advancements, but they won't happen at the same rate as when individuals express their creativity in the hopes of getting rich.

Heidi Bell said...

But who can blame anyone that takes a free buck when it is offered? I know I am looking forward to my tax return, and that it will help be buy much needed groceries throughout the year. It isn't like I spent my Stimulus Package on a big screen TV. It went to pay pregnancy bills, school debt etc. I honesly worry about the richer getting richer and poorer getting poorer. And the middle class not being able to bridge the gap. Sounds like I don't agree with you, but I actually see your point.