Wisconsin’s Masochists Rejoice
I love the concept of individual liberty, so I’m generally really good at appreciating others’ love for things that I don’t particularly care for. But some people love things that I’ll just never understand. Diet Mountain Dew. The Kardashians. Small dogs. Sweet pickles. The Christmas Shoes song. And some of my fellow Wisconsinites’ love of winter.
Admittedly, I’ve enjoyed winter more since becoming a dad. Pulling my kids around in a sled in the backyard is a fun time, and we took my oldest son skiing for the first time ever this last January. I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything – but they still doesn’t make me a winter lover.
Because really, what is there to love about Wisconsin winter? Is it the frigid temperatures? The scraping of windshields? The extra 30 minutes added to daily commutes? The pain-inducing windchill gusts? The hours spent blowing snow from driveways? The ice-covered sidewalks? I’m one of the most optimistic people you’ll ever meet, but even I have a hard time finding silver linings when Wisconsin winter days are at their worst.
But I did find one silver lining in Wisconsin winter last week. On yet another cold, windy day, I stopped at my local grocery store on my way home from work to pick up a few things – and it hit me. Look at all this produce!
Despite Wisconsin’s efforts to be crowned Frozen Chamber of Death Champion 2017, we consumers inside that grocery store enjoyed a dazzlingly abundant supply of fresh fruits and vegetables available for purchase at reasonable prices in the dead of Wisconsin winter. And we consumers casually browsed through it all like it was no big deal.
Humans have existed for roughly 200,000 years, yet modern economic growth (which creates our wealthy first-world standards of living) has existed for only 200 years or so. That’s a mere 0.1% of human history. In full contrast to our lives today, suffering has been the natural state of human existence for 99.9% of our history – no exaggeration!
What unleashed modern economic growth? Liberty. Even more specifically, economic liberty. Free market capitalism. The legal right for me to own property, combine it with my time and creativity, and sell it to you at a price upon which we mutually agree (if we’re able to agree at all, of course) with minimal interference from outside forces.
Is free market capitalism perfect? Of course not. It’s a human construction, and humans are imperfect beings. But free market capitalism does produce the standards of living we enjoy today: it empowered me to defy nature and buy two red-ripe tomatoes and a pack of fresh basil in the dead of Wisconsin winter last week. That’s nothing short of a miracle in the scope of human history.
So yes, I found a silver lining in Wisconsin winter last week: I saw the brilliance of free market capitalism at work, and I wouldn’t have noticed it in such stark terms if I lived in – say – San Deigo. But don’t get me wrong. That doesn’t make me a winter lover. It just reinforces my love of economic liberty.
In what ways does economic liberty empower you to defy nature in your daily experiences? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!