Cleaned by Capitalism, Polluted by Communism

August 17, 2012 04:41

In a market-based economy, keeping clean is cheap and easy, as the “Cleaned by Capitalism” examples on Cafe Hayek clearly illustrate. It’s only under market-repressing communism that “keeping clean is expensive and complicated.”


By Mark J. Perry at Carpe Diem


Don Boudreaux at the Cafe Hayek blog regularly features posts titled “Cleaned by Capitalism,” here’s a recent example:

“Modern, innovative, industrial competitive capitalism makes available to almost every denizen of the early 21st-century capitalist world a host of inexpensive and effective machines and substances to protect ourselves from what would otherwise be the daily, up-close-and-personal pollution of bacteria from rotting food particles. We have dinnerware – plates, drinking glasses, bowls, pots, pans, and utensils – made of ceramics, plastics, and metals that resist absorbing foods and that can be vigorously washed, daily. We wash these items using inexpensive detergents, hot potable water, and dish cloths and sponges (that more and more are disposable – thus making the cloths and sponges that we use cleaner than otherwise).

Increasingly, of course, we wash our dishes and utensils by using this incredible, electricity-powered anti-pollutant machine….
The hot water sprayed in powerful jets combines with special detergent to clean dishes more thoroughly – and with far less expenditure of human time and suffering of aggravation – than is achieved by washing dishes by hand.  Another instance in which our society is cleaned by capitalism.”
I thought of Don’s “Cleaned by Capitalism” series today when I read Cuban super-blogger Yoani Sanchez’s post titled “Have We Become Accustomed to Dirt?” (I think the answer is YES), but which could have alternatively been titled “Polluted by Communism“:

“A teenager writes — with his index finger — the words “Wash me” in the dust on the window of the bus. A mother asks her son what the school bathroom is like and he confirms that “it stinks so much you can’t go in there.” A dentist eats a french fry in front of her patient and with unwashed hands proceeds to extract a tooth. A passerby lets his pizza — just out of the oven — drip cheese over the sidewalk, where it accumulates in a pool of fat. A waitress cleans the tables at Coppelia Ice Cream with a smelly rag, and puts out glasses sticky with successive layers of badly scrubbed milk. A spellbound tourist drinks a mojito in which several ice cubes made from tap water are floating. A sewer overflows a few yards from the kitchen of a recreation center for kids and teens. A cockroach quickly darts along the clinic wall while the doctor listens to a patient’s chest.

All this and more I could enumerate, but I prefer to summarize what I’ve seen with my own eyes. The hygiene of this city shows an alarming decline and creates a scenario for the spread of disease. The cholera outbreak in the east of the country is a sad warning of what could also happen in the capital. The lack of health education from the earliest years of life lead us to accept filth as the natural environment in which we move. The material shortages also raise the epidemiological risk. Many mothers reuse disposable diapers several times, stuffing them with cotton or gauze. The plastic bottles collected in the trash serve as containers for homemade yogurt or for milk sold on the black market. The inadequate water supply in many neighborhoods reduces hand washing and even the number of baths per week. The high prices and shortages of cleaning products further complicate the situation. It is very difficult now to find stores selling mops to clean the floor and detergent is also scarce. Keeping clean is expensive and complicated.”
MP: In a market-based economy, keeping clean is cheap and easy, as the “Cleaned by Capitalism” examples on Cafe Hayek clearly illustrate. It’s only under market-repressing communism that “keeping clean is expensive and complicated.” Perhaps Yoani Sanchez could have a series of posts on her blog titled “Polluted (or Fouled) by Communism.”
Dr. Mark J. Perry is a professor of economics and finance in the School of Management at the Flint campus of the University of Michigan. Perry holds two graduate degrees in economics (M.A. and Ph.D.) from George Mason University near Washington, D.C. In addition, he holds an MBA degree in finance from the Curtis L. Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. He blogs at Carpe Diem.

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