Last night a twitter follower pointed me to this column I wrote over three years ago, noting how it could have been written about the Occupy Wall Street protesters. Funny thing is I remember writing it because I happened to be somewhat cut off from the news and needed to write an evergreen of sorts. Now it seems pretty timely. Here’s the open:
It’s an old story. Loving parents provide a generous environment for their offspring. Kids are given not only ample food, clothing and shelter, but the emotional necessities as well: encouragement, discipline, self-reliance, the ability to work with others and on their own. And yet, in due course, the kids rebel. Some even say their parents never loved them, that they were unfair, indifferent, cruel. Often, such protests are sparked by parents’ refusal to be even more generous. I want a car, demands the child. Work for it, insist the parents. Why do you hate me? asks the ingrate.
Of course, being an old story doesn’t make it a universal one. But the dynamic is universally understood.
We’ve all witnessed the tendency to take a boon for granted. Being accustomed to a provision naturally leads the human heart to consider that provision an entitlement. Hence the not-infrequent lawsuits from prison inmates cruelly denied their rights to cable TV or apple brown betty for desert.
And so it goes, I think, with capitalism generally.
Capitalism is the greatest system ever created for alleviating general human misery, and yet it breeds ingratitude.