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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/6072/the-great-can-opener-gap/

The Great Can Opener Gap

December 29, 2006 by

I’m sick of our economic whiners and their tear-stained statistics. “Ten Million American children go to bed hungry every night.” Baloney, thick sliced and ready for your intellectual palate! Who believes such falsification? Were it true, fifty million Americans, given the generosity of Americans, would announce a bedtime snack program. “Kid, if you’re hungry come by my house – or better yet, I’ll bring by a couple pieces of fried chicken with a side of fries. Total cost: about 40 cents in my kitchen. What American would not sign up for such frugal charity if the statistic were true?.

Around Christmas time it’s appropriate to consider that never in the annals of history – at least not since the closure of the Garden of Eden – have basic neccesities been so available to so many for so little work. Our system, call it compassionate capitalism – even with the damage due to government interference – still pumps out sustenance for ALL!A small proof: I see a TV ad praising a new magnetic can opener – just attach it to the can and push a button. Bingo, it opens the can. A nice convenience – but only a convenience. The market is flooded with cheaper can openers and this robotic device costs twenty bucks. A sizeable sum – 20 pounds of bargain chicken, 40 kitchen-made burgers for hungry kids, a pile of chops. And over at the dollar store, they have one of those old fashioned manual metal-bladed things that does the same job. I mean they both open a can. The dollar store product runs from 50 cents to a dollar or so. Same function.

But so prosperous are we that these twenty dollar handy-dandys sell like buttered popcorn. “We can’t keep them in stock”, a local retailer told me. Imagine! There is an exhuberant market for a gadget that saves us a few seconds of turning a handle, but costs 20 times the price of the basic device. That says a mouthful about the economy; and much more accurately than a Paul Krugman editorial that ruminates on the income gap that blights the land. What would he call this phenomenom, the can-opener gap?

{ 9 comments }

randy December 29, 2006 at 4:11 pm

I personally know a child that does go to bed hungry some nights. You are a very callous person for this post.

Charity cannot be forced upon someone. Pride is a silly thing, but even people who cannot properly feed their children have pride. Maybe more than they deserve, but I am not making this up.

Jeremiah December 29, 2006 at 4:28 pm

Randy is right, “charity cannot be forced upon someone.” However, I wonder what Randy thinks should be done when a parent is too proud to accept charity to feed his hungry children. Should the government step in and force that parent to accept welfare money? How will the government know which parents need to be forced to accept this money? Do the rest of us have to be spied on and tyrannized by the government because of a few proud parents?

Boo-urns December 29, 2006 at 4:45 pm

Millions of children go hungry every night because they didn’t eat their vegetables and got no dessert.

Serenity December 29, 2006 at 11:58 pm

Were it true, fifty million Americans, given the generosity of Americans, would announce a bedtime snack program. “Kid, if you’re hungry come by my house – or better yet, I’ll bring by a couple pieces of fried chicken with a side of fries.

I think you overestimate the generosity of the average American. They may be quick to grab the Visa card and phone in a donation for a devastated region in some far-off corner of the planet; but just ask them if they know how their next-door neighbor is doing, and you will most likely get a blank look.

happylee December 30, 2006 at 3:09 am

Randy knows a child who goes to bed hungry? Has Randy done anything about this? No? Then shut up. The post is not callous.

And, psst, Randy, some of us have fond memories of going to sleep hungry in our younger days and now waking up fat and happy, after a life of hard work and clean living. Being poor or hungry is a-okay. It’s the judgment passed upon this condition by people (dare I call beings such as this “people”?) like Randy that makes it into the bugaboo.

Bahumbug.

ted roberts December 30, 2006 at 9:17 am

Randy, you first. My point was not that there is no single hungry child in our midst. My point was that the number of hungry children is incredibly exaggerated by those selling something – a new charity, political views, themselves, whatever.

My additional point – which applies to Serenity – is that we are a generous people. (As proven by numerous measures of American charity) When we know of hunger, we feed it. But the overall point is that we are overwhelmingly prosperous. Look around you. You would learn much from a foreign sojourn of a few months or so. Our system works. Lets leave it alone for a while. But thanks for your comments. ted

Sara December 30, 2006 at 5:11 pm

I agree with original post, I do not think it was callous. Our big problem in Texas is Gross Obesity amoungst the poor. Free-lunch Girls in my daughters class don’t speak much English but can only walk an odd side-to-side gait due to obesity. Huge diabetes centers even in small towns like Uvalde.

If someone’s kids are going to bed hungry, I would bring them something and get them in touch with one of the dozens of social services agencies, Church related charities, etc. If the child continues to be malnourished, I’ll keep trying to help. I’d have to warn them they might get a visit from the Human Services Dept (yikes) if it continues, if someone called it in.

carlos December 31, 2006 at 4:05 pm

This last comment is quite right. Hunger is not the real health concern of the American poor, obesity is. In America being poor is having a beat up car and out of style shoes. Face it we’re the richest civilization in world history and if it’s happening it’s not because of economic factors, I would strictly point to child abuse. The last thing we want is another government program that taxes more and gets more people hooked on bureaucratic social programs.

Horatio January 2, 2007 at 3:53 pm

My parents are immigrants from Latin America. I am certain that we were well below the poverty line while I was a child. I was fat as a child. There are very few poor American kids who go to bed hungry because their parents cannot afford food. It is more likely that their parents have not properly prioritized their expenses.

BTW, due to the miracle of Capitalism, my parents are now upper-middle class.

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