As the annual tradition of Thanksgiving leads us to once more gather with family and friends to share experiences and express gratitude for our possessions and circumstances, it’s important to recognize the central role played by the market.
It’s common for these celebrations to feature a variety of food—turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, pies, and other items. For most of us, there are several large grocery stores located nearby, each featuring many options for each needed ingredient. In other words, we are surrounded by abundance and variety, both of which are products of a free market system.
To understand this relationship, consider its inverse: a centrally planned economy overseen and regulated by a government body. Russia under Stalin and North Korea today are clear examples of dangers of suppressing a free market. State Planning Commissions arbitrarily set production goals, prices are fixed, and scarce resources are dedicated only to a select few products and services. As a result, there is rarely any substantial selection of consumer goods. Abundance and variety vanish.
Of course, the marketplace within the United States of America (and Utah) is not free in the real sense, and is burdened by a vast number of regulations and restrictions. Still, there is sufficient freedom to allow for division of labor, innovation, and competition, even if the resulting prices are inflated due to regulatory compliance costs.
I’m thankful that I have myriad choices for what I wear, what I eat, what I drive, and where and how I live. I’m grateful for technology’s ability to innovate and liberate, whether we’re talking about the insanely fast shipping speeds of Amazon Prime, or the state-defying financial system that bitcoin is helping to create. I’m amazed at the sheer complexity of even the most simple of products, and the elaborate supply chains and distribution networks that the market produces to help meet our diverse demands.
In short, I’m thankful for the free market, and am personally humbled and grateful for the opportunity to work full time in its defense. Clearly, there is much work ahead to maximize that freedom, but for today I count my blessings and express gratitude for the free market. It has benefitted me tremendously, and I hope to see it benefit my posterity even more.