Have you done the 10-foot-radius capitalism test?

By Neal Larson

Within 10 feet of me, the dual-screen computer I’m typing on, with my cold diet soda sitting next to my smartphone near a bookshelf filled with affordable books in my climate controlled office illuminated by fluorescent bulbs casting light on my salt and pepper shaker I use to season pre-packaged food purchased at a local climate-controlled, fluorescent-illuminated grocery store should be evidence enough that our daily existence is enhanced incalculably by others competing for my dollar. Do your own 10-foot-radius test, then combine what you know about economics, human nature, quality control, math and manufacturing to grasp how and why it all got there.

It is impossible to overstate the favorable influence of capitalism in our lives.

While nobody argues for unfettered capitalism without controls on monopolies or absent regard for consumer interest, and excessive materialism poses some very real personal challenges — all we hear is whining about the “greedy millionaires and billionaires” — many of whom make these standard-of-living creature comforts possible on a wide scale.

In a recent YouGov poll, millennials were shown to prefer socialism to capitalism. More than four in 10 Americans under the age of 30 have a favorable view of the collectivist ideology. Compare that substantial number to capitalism, which attracted a favorable view from less than a third of the same group.

Propaganda works, and over the past 15 to 20 years the steady drumbeat of mainstream bias connecting capitalism with a host of human frailties — like greed, cronyism, fraud, and corruption — has significantly tarnished the reputation of an economic philosophy that has indisputably elevated the global standard of living to a degree unparalleled in human history. Capitalism and its global reverberations feed far more mouths than any collectivist system ever will.

This particular demographic set, filled with entitlement and delusions of superior intellect, appear poised to demand from current and future taxpayers free education and free health care by implementing a system that could never produce their cherished offspring of innovation: the iPhones they use to post on Facebook pictures of their new Prius bearing the bumper sticker of the latest candidate peddling… socialism. Yet the iPhone, the Facebook, the Prius, and even the bumper sticker are all products of capitalism — that economic philosophy they hate. It never occurs to them that socialism produces no innovative pressure in society. It only redistributes resources according to some bureaucrat’s definition of “fairness” and it’s always a zero-sum game.

The origins of this generation’s entitlement are not difficult to identify. These are the emerging adults from a generation raised with trophies for all and no scoreboards anywhere. Of course they were embedded with a script that everyone should win regardless of effort or talent or circumstance. Equality of outcome, regardless of input, became their virtue. Free education and health care are the grown-up versions of “everybody gets a trophy” and “nobody ever loses.” Intellectually honest millennials preferring socialism to capitalism would turn in their hybrids and smartphones, designer clothes and favorite music collection — all of which have been made possible and available because someone somewhere wanted to elevate their own life by offering a product other individuals are willing to buy — the essence of free-market capitalism.

Does anyone doubt the demands by progressive millennials and their successors will grow? If education is a right others should pay for, and free health care is a right extractable from the collective, then why isn’t shelter and transportation and food and buying power and entertainment and every other need and want in life a shared responsibility? It isn’t a surprise that these same people are making demands for safe spaces, trigger warnings, protection from microaggression, and a $15 per hour minimum wage. If they demanded from themselves a tenth of what they expect from others, they would succeed on their own.

There’s a problem when the millennials’ sense of entitlement can see greed only in the wealthy CEOs or the successful entrepreneurs who work tirelessly and risk daringly. If they want a real example of greed, perhaps they should check out their latest selfie.

Associated Press award-winning columnist Neal Larson of Idaho Falls is also a conservative talk show host on KID Newsradio 590am, 106.3 and 92.1fm, and also at www.kidnewsradio.com. “The Neal Larson Show” can be heard weekday mornings from 8:00 to 10:00. His email address is neal@590kid.com.