Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Surprise: Capitalism makes people happier and more giving

John Stossel

“Capitalism is Making You Lonely,” says Jacobin magazine.

Vox claims, “Capitalism makes us feel empty inside.”

As usual, the media are just wrong.

“There’s no empirical data that actually shows that we feel more lonely now than we did in the past,” historian Johan Norberg points out to me. “When researchers compare people with previous generations at the same stage of life, they don’t find evidence of increased loneliness.”

“But more people live alone now,” I say. “I would think that would make people lonelier.”

“What they never tell you in the reports,” Norberg replies, “is that people who live alone and spend less time surrounded by other people are also more happy with those relationships.”

In addition, “When people around the world are asked, ‘Do you have relatives or friends you can count on to help you?’ people in countries [like America] where more people live alone usually say, ‘Yes.’”

But in India and China, more people say they have no one.

“It’s the complete opposite of what people expect,” Norberg says. “In less market-based societies, 20% to 40% say they have no one to count on if they need help. In the richest and most individualist societies, it’s in the low single digits.”

On a YouTube channel with 1.7 million subscribers, a socialist says, “Material incentives of capitalists isolate us from nature, each other and ourselves.”

Norberg replies, “I understand why those charlatans get an audience, because at times we all feel lonely.”

But his new book, “The Capitalist Manifesto,” points out how capitalism makes life better, including making people less lonely.

“Every poll shows that people say that they’re less lonely in the most market-oriented societies.”

I push back. “Under capitalism, people compete. Sounds divisive. Sounds like it would pull us apart.”

“Feudalism, communism, fascism, that’s divisive,” he replies. “All are based on getting resources by taking them from somebody else. Capitalism forces us to think, ‘What does the other guy want?’ The most important aspect of capitalism is cooperation.” That’s “why every time you buy something, you hear this double, ‘Thank you.’”

It’s true yet kind of odd. When I pay, both the salesperson and I usually say, “Thank you.” It’s because I get the product I want, and they get my money. I want their product more than the money. They want my money more than whatever they are selling. We both feel we win.

“In the market economy, we do each other services constantly. That’s how we get richer,” adds Norberg. “No deal ever happens unless both parties think that they benefit.”

And here’s another twist to that. He says capitalism makes us generous.

“It sounds surprising [but] for many years, lots of researchers around the world have looked at how generous people are when they’re playing different economic games.”

In one such game, the experimenter gives a person a sum of money and tells him to divide it with a stranger any way he chooses. The only condition: The stranger must accept the offer. If the other person refuses, nobody gets anything.

In capitalist economies, writes Norberg, “the most common offer is to split the amount 50-50; the recipient is so offended by bad offers that they usually say no if offered less than 30%.”

Researchers have now done this test all over the world, and to their surprise, they discovered, “People are most generous in capitalist societies.”

In fact, on average, they offer twice as much as those in the least-capitalist societies.

“The closer people live to marketplaces, the more generous they are,” explains Norberg. “If they constantly buy and sell and negotiate, they begin to take other people’s interests into consideration. That’s what markets do. They do affect our character, but not in this way that the critics say. They don’t make us more divisive and aggressive. They make us more generous.”

Capitalism is good in many ways.


In defence of a ‘British culture’

From time to time, a would-be edgy Tweeter or columnist will shock us all by stating or suggesting that the boring white people who until the last third of the twentieth century made up almost the entire population of the United Kingdom, have no real culture to speak of. There is a twofold implication to this rhetorical ploy: that indigenous Britons should fall on their knees in eternal gratitude for the hitherto unknown liveliness and dynamism of the various diaspora communities who have made their homes here, and also that the demand that newcomers integrate into our way of life is meaningless because there is nothing into which the new Britons can integrate.

As a matter of objective reality Britain, and its constituent parts, have one of the richest, most consequential and deepest cultures on the planet

Well. Many white Britons are happy to participate in this self-abnegation. Pathologically anti-patriotic Tweeters love to point out that much-loved aspects of British culture, from fish ‘n’ chips to St George, have been influenced by foreigners. They also love to emphasise how dull Britain was in the bad old days before Windrush or Tony Blair. A classic recent example was provided by George Monbiot, who said a year or so back, ‘I was brought up in a village that was almost exclusively white and Christian. It was the most boring and stifling place I’ve ever known.’

Yet as a matter of objective reality Britain, and its constituent parts, have one of the richest, most consequential and deepest cultures on the planet.

England has existed as an organised unitary state within more or less its current borders since long before the Norman Conquest; Athelstan, who reigned from 927 to 939, was the first English monarch to exercise meaningful political authority over almost all the country. The English nation as a coherent polity is therefore 1,100 years old. The cultural unity of the English can be plausibly traced to two centuries before Athelstan, to the time of Bede (d. 735). Our religious continuity goes even further back, with organised Christian communities appearing in the late Roman period. Parts of St Martin’s Church in Canterbury date to Roman times. It does not seem to have been a place of Christian worship in Roman Britain, but it was being used for that purpose by 597, as the private chapel of Queen Bertha of Kent. She was the wife of Ethelbert, who had married her while he was still a pagan but later converted to Christianity under the influence of the Augustinian mission. St Peter’s-on-the-Wall in Essex was probably built in the 650s, and its original stonework is substantially intact.

The first known English poet, Caedmon, lived and wrote in the second half of the seventh century, 1350 years ago. Most English counties and many towns have origins in the Anglo-Saxon period.

I am not going to rehearse the long span of British history. This is an article not a 20-part book series. But the point needs to be made that there is a very solid answer to the question ‘What is British culture?’, even if it is not the pat, easy answer that the (usually bad faith) posers of the question expect.

It is not the twee, trite nonsense about tea and biscuits and queuing and grumbling about the rain and liking the Queen. Fundamentally British culture is the various products and components of the highly-developed civilisation that a largely homogenous and settled population achieved over a thousand years.

There are different spheres to this, of course. In literature, we have Beowulf, Chaucer, Malory, Milton, Donne, Austen, Wordsworth, Dickens, Trollope, Scott, Wodehouse and Eliot, to say nothing of a certain gentleman from Stratford. There is the Robin Hood legendarium with its uproarious celebration of tradition and liberty against the greed and stupidity of bad rulers. In religion, take your pick from medieval Books of Hours, The Imitation of Christ, The Book of Common Prayer, the Authorised Version of the Bible, the heroic courage of the Reformation martyrs on both sides, the Methodist revival, the Oxford Movement, the Catholic literary flowering, and the flourishing Jewish life of London. The whole fabric of Britain speaks of its long, fascinating history, and the genius and innovation of its people. The Welsh castles, the cathedrals, the parish churches, the country houses, the Box Hill tunnel, the Iron Bridge, Edinburgh New Town, the Forth bridge, the mills and factories of the industrial revolution.

Go to Portsmouth historic dockyard and see HMS Victory. During the Napoleonic wars Britain was building, maintaining, manning and supplying a vast global fleet of such ships, dominating the seas by force of will, national organisation, determination, and economic sophistication unmatched anywhere in the world. She continued to do so for another century after the defeat of Napoleon, winning and maintaining a global empire.

A few hundred yards away from Victory is HMS Warrior, the first ironclad warship, which on her completion in 1860 rendered almost all existing warships obsolete.

Britain was not unique in developing constitutional and accountable forms of government. But we were early adopters and shapers of the tradition of liberal, limited government. Freedom of speech, thought, assembly and religion have been observed and respected here – albeit imperfectly – for a very long time. The same is true of due process in the criminal justice system, while the flexibility of our partially unwritten constitution has meant that throughout the modern period we largely avoided the revolutions, political instability and civil strife that blighted almost every other comparable country.

The whole fabric of Britain speaks of its long, fascinating history, and the genius and innovation of its people

The most successful and prosperous nation in the world, the United States of America, was founded on political principles that had been given their clearest and most compelling exposition by British philosophers. America’s founders were mostly of British extraction, as many of its great men have been. The same is true of many of the most peaceful, orderly and free places in the world – Australia, New Zealand and Canada being the most obvious examples. The British political tradition has been a huge boon to the world. Adam Smith, for example, was not the first advocate for the free economy, but he was one of the most brilliant and most sophisticated.

I could spend thousands of words listing the scientific and technological breakthroughs made in Britain, or describing at length the learned societies and debating clubs and scientific institutes that grew up from the seventeenth century onwards, taking advantage of our free, orderly, well-organised society to push science forward. I could fill a dozen books with details of the tens of thousands of gentleman amateurs and underemployed clergy who produced monographs on every subject from astronomy to entomology. I could name painters – the Van de Veldes, Gainsborough, Turner, Lucian Freud, David Hockney – who will be enjoyed as long as there are people who wish to look at paintings, or composers like Purcell, Holst, Vaughan Williams and James MacMillan.

Britain has long provided a home and a refuge for those persecuted elsewhere, starting with the Huguenots more than 400 years ago. Between the beginning of the nineteenth century and the start of the second world war we accepted something like 400,000 Eastern European Jews with very little violence or unrest. Indeed, we had a Jewish Prime Minister 155 years ago.

Twice in the span of three decades, we devoted vast resources – human, financial and material – to defeating huge threats to the peace and freedom of Europe. By so doing we practically bankrupted ourselves, but we were in the fight on the side of decency, humanity, freedom and democracy.

There are so many aspects of British culture that I haven’t mentioned – I’ve not even approached sport or folk culture or cinema or TV – but before I finish, I would like to return briefly to the George Monbiot comment I mentioned earlier.

The place where he grew up was Rotherfield Peppard in Oxfordshire. One can see how it might have seemed rather claustrophobic and limiting to an independent-minded, incipiently socialist teenager growing up in a well-off and well-connected Tory family.

And yet the very stability, order and quiet of Rotherfield Peppard represented – still represents – an extraordinary civilisational achievement. Safe streets and trustworthy neighbours are not the norm for human societies; they are the exception, even today. They did not arise by accident in Britain. They are the product of many centuries of hard national graft, of tough decisions, of sacrifice. They arise from a particular Christian context, a specific national character: the brilliance of a particular people in a particular place.


Democrats Embrace Mental Illness in the Name of Diversity

In the most technical sense, if you were to celebrate diversity for its own sake, you would have to celebrate things that are, to put it mildly, counter-productive. Normal people celebrate accomplishments, progressive Democrats celebrate only certain kinds of existences, while condemning others (but weirdly electing them to high office, like President Old, Straight, Rich White Guy). But “diversity” is a meaningless word, which makes celebrating it even odder. Yet, that’s what Democrats do. At a certain point, however, shouldn’t they care enough about the people they deem worthy of “celebrating” to try to help them?

That’s a rhetorical question, obviously. The progressive power structure in this country, and the world, has no use for individuals beyond them being weapons and props. So, when discussing things like “the trans community” they ignore the reality surrounding the suicide rate and drug abuse problems throughout it.

Instead, you get meaningless pap like the meme tweeted out by a group called “Pride UK” which read, “Respecting a person’s pronouns is suicide prevention.”

Might I suggest that, if you are genuinely concerned with the well-being of any person or group of people, you might want to focus on whatever issues are causing them to teeter on the edge of suicide, not indulging them in their delusions. Because, whether out of malice or simple reality, sooner or later someone is going to point out how odd it is that the bearded person in a dress is using a urinal. If that’s enough to send someone over the edge into harming themselves or others, early intervention is needed.

That’s not what Democrats do. They insist we lie, that we play along and indulge people. That we deny reality because reality upsets some people. That serves no one and, like pretty much every policy idea Democrats advance, it helps no one either.

Somewhere along the line, the Democrat Party turned into the Brewster sisters from “Arsenic and Old Lace,” who coddle their mentally ill brother who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt to the point they make everyone else indulge him too. They also murder single men because they think they’re sad to be alone, draw whatever conclusion you like from that.

Did they really do their brother any favors by indulging him? No. And they all ended in an insane asylum, so… (Watch the movie, it’s actually hilarious.)

But Democrats aren’t about to voluntarily check themselves into a mental hospital. They aren’t actually mentally ill, they’re evil. There’s a very important difference between the two.

The left is content to let the suicides of people they claim to care so deeply about continue because they serve a larger purpose – those deaths enable Democrats to peacock around claiming moral superiority and a deeper sense of caring than anyone else. That moral superiority is the lifeblood of the left.

How many people have to die in their pursuit of power? Well, more than 100 million were murdered in quest for progressive dominance in the last century, why would anything be different in this one?

The thing about chasing power for its own sake is there is finish line. If the answer to “How much?” is “More,” there’s no end to that pursuit.

Democrats want power so they can control people and impose their will on them. But their policies fail, which they use to push for newer, larger policies that allot them more power…lather, rinse, repeat.

To people thinking straight, the idea of “Big government has failed us, what we need is bigger government” seems insane and would be rejected out-of-hand. However, if you muddy the waters to the point that opposing an action isn’t about that action, but about, say, well-being of others, and you are required to do or act a certain way, lest you drive others to harm themselves, then suddenly you’re painting critics as monsters and discrediting what they’re trying to do. Never mind the fact that the people harming themselves were inclined to do that anyway and are in desperate need of help; help those Democrats are denying them, by the way, because not getting it is useful to those Democrats.

Indulge, don’t help. Weaponize, don’t solve.

The last century showed individuals are disposable to the left; Democrats care about nothing but their own power and agenda. As the White House and the rest of the left celebrate things like “Transgender Day of Remembrance,” make sure to remember what’s really going on here and why.


Dear 'Legacy Media,' the Calls of Authoritarianism are Coming from Inside the (White) House

Activist journalism is a scourge to our nation. It flies in the face of the marketplace of ideas that once made our country great. Both activist journalism and the growing “critical thinking crisis” in our schools have the potential to set back our great nation decades in the name of “progressivism” or “equality.” Leftist outlets like The Atlantic (that just announced a series of 24 op-eds dedicated to “warning the public about the consequences if Trump wins a second term”) are aware of this – yet it does nothing to stop them from transcribing Biden White House talking points and crafting anti-democratic narratives.

They are political operatives, not journalists. Their practices undermine trust in the media, increase divisiveness, and weaken civic discourse. The duty of journalism is to report the truth - not manipulate public opinion to advance a partisan cause. What is absolutely baffling is that for a publication that has covered the topic of “disinformation” ad nauseum, they’ve failed to examine the current authoritarian occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Let’s look at the facts.

Joe Biden is the only United States President to ever attempt to jail his political opponents using the power of the State. He has spent the better part of three years calling his opponent’s supporters “extremists,” and “threats to Democracy.” He’s locked away Trump supporters and thrown away the key while drug dealers and murderers freely roam the streets of our Capitol. Biden wants to grow the federal government to it’s largest size ever, attempting to overhaul and invest heavily in agencies such as the IRS, that can be mobilized against his opponents.

Biden essentially owns the media, big tech, and social media, and has wielded them as weapons against conservatives for many years. From colluding with big tech to censoring the Hunter Biden laptop story, to attempting to build a briefing room for left-leaning TikTok content creators, the administration has proven there is no limit to how far the Biden apparatus will go to manipulate the facts. Additionally, having been a communications professional in Washington D.C. for the better part of a decade, I can assure you there are no such things as coincidences as far as legacy media is concerned, yet we’re supposed to believe that the Atlantic rolled out ten op-eds about an authoritarian Trump on the same day that the New York Times and Washington Post also decided to publish articles about how a second Trump administration would be “radical,” and a “dictatorship”? The State-owned and manipulated media feels awfully authoritarian to me.

Maybe the most important tell of all is that time after time the Left has been found guilty of everything they accuse Donald Trump of being or doing. They want you to believe his son is a degenerate? Well, Hunter Biden cannot stop himself from doing cocaine and buying prostitutes, all caught on film mind you. They want you to believe Trump and his family have been selling influence? Well, Joe Biden has been personally profiting off Hunter Biden’s business dealings with China and the Ukraine as House Oversight Committee subpoenas indicate. They want you to believe that Trump is the only person to ever question the results of an election? There are literally 12 minute long supercuts of Democrats doing just that all over the internet after the 2016 election.

Once again, the leftist, activist journalists at places like The Atlantic are focusing on what they deem “mean words” instead of the horrific policies the Biden regime enacted that harm millions of Americans daily. As the American Dream lies bleeding out in the gutter, they toil away extrapolating conclusions from President Trump’s every syllable, completely ignoring his actions, and empowering those that wish to carry out violent acts as we approach election season next year. The 45th President touched on this briefly during a speech in Iowa this past weekend, by calling Joe Biden the “destroyer of American democracy.” He’s right.


My other blogs. Main ones below:

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

http://jonjayray.com/blogall.html More blogs


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