Count Your Capitalistic Blessings

There has been much written about the meaning of Christmas. I would like to focus on another aspect of Christmas that is rarely if ever talked about -- how our enjoyment of the holiday has been greatly enhanced because of Capitalism.

It is important to remember what life was like during the 17th century in England when the west first started its march towards Capitalism and the betterment of mankind. It was Capitalism that unleashed the ingenuity of individuals that led to hundreds of inventions that has given people in our country a standard of living never before seen on earth.  It would be overwhelming to name them all, but here are a few examples of how the results of Capitalism has made an enormous change in our holiday celebrations. I like to call these our Capitalistic blessings.

  • Family get-togethers. The average life span in the 17th century was only 35 because many people died when they were still children. If people could survive until their mid-teens they would probably live to 50 or 60 years of age. Today at our family gatherings we can see our grandparents or even great grandparents due to the fact that we live longer.
  • Gift giving. All the wonderful affordable products to buy as a way of expressing good will toward friends and family is only possible because of our wealth. Before Capitalism people were so poor they could only be concerned with day-to-day survival.
  • The American tradition of celebrating Santa Claus. Clement Clarke Moore wrote a poem, "Twas the Night Before Christmas", and it was our country that created the tradition of Santa Claus that we enjoy today -- the jolly red fellow who rides from house to house on a sleigh bringing gifts to deserving children. (Note that Santa doesn't give gifts to just poor children, he gives them to everyone and the only requirement is that they have good behavior.)
  • Christmas lights. Prior to Thomas Edison there were none. Now we have Christmas lights that turn trees, lawns, buildings and many decorations into sparkling beacons of cheer.
  • Clothing. People used to own one or two outfits. Now, not only do we have a whole closet full of clothes, but we have clothes for different puposes such as: work, play, sleep, exercise, sports, lounging, casual, formal and even the holidays.
  • Transportation. Rather than going to church or to grandma's on foot, or if you were fortunate, on horseback, or bouncing around in a stagecoach or horse and buggy, we can travel in warm comfortable cars thanks to Henry Ford, whose goal was to make automobiles affordable to the common man. If you want to travel to friends or family far away, you can also go by bus, train, or airplane.
  • Communication. If you are unable to visit family or friends far away, you can communicate with them easily by email or telephone thanks to people like Alexander Graham Bell, Ray Tomlinson, Bill Gates and others.
  • Christmas stockings. We hang stockings by the chimney so that Santa can fill them with lots of goodies, but chimneys didn't always exist. Homes during the 17th century had a hole in the roof rather than a chimney.
  • Entertainment. Kings had to wait to gather musical ensembles to play for them at their castle. Now thanks to Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and others, even the poorest of us have at our fingertips access to recordings of movies, musical recordings, operas, plays and so on.
  • Holiday meals. How does the daily monotonous diet of bread, cheese, onions and stew (with perhaps pieces of meat or fish if you could afford it) compare to turkey, ham, potatoes, dressing, gravy, cranberries, various salads, vegetable dishes, rolls, olives, pickles, fruit, vegetables with dip, pumpkin pie, whipping cream, cookies, ice cream, candy, nuts, and holiday beverages?
  • Cheap energy. Rather going outside to find and chop firewood for a fire (or cow dung), we now can stay snugly warm inside by using oil, gas or electricity to heat our homes. We can also run all our electronics with affordable abundant energy.
  • New products. Many new products have come into existence that add to Christmas such as holiday florist items, ornaments, specialty gifts, clothing, decorations, dishes, wrapping paper, gift bags, ribbon, and so on.

These are just a few of the many advancements we enjoy due to the work of scientists and producers who were given the freedom to innovate for their own profit.  And because they profited, we have also profited by having a much higher standard of living and much better enjoyment of the holidays than that of our ancestors.  

But I know that many of us feel disheartened this holiday season.  The threat of socialism is too big and bold to ignore. The government has passed legislation so that before long our health care, food, and the internet will be under their total control. For those of us who understand the evil consequences of tyranny, it is hard to feel positive about our future.

One of my favorite holiday pastimes is to watch the 1954 movie "White Christmas."  In it is a song composed by Irving Berlin called Count Your Blessings with this verse: "So if you're worried and you can't sleep, just count your blessings instead of sheep." I have always loved that song, it's optimistic outlook on life even when the chips are down and I always found comfort in knowing that living in America I did indeed have many blessings to count, but the question now is how much longer will that be possible?

It has been said that history repeats itself. Will the United States continue down the path towards the decay of socialism?  It is important to understand that what moves and changes the world is ideas. It was ideas that created the United States of America.  It is ideas again that will save it.  The philosophy of Aristotle lead to the Enlightenment and it was the Enlightenment that led to the establishment of the United States.  Those ideas are still out there.

If we want to save America what needs to be done is to discover, learn and promote the right ideas necessary to sustain freedom throughout the culture.  We need to study the great thinkers like John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Adam Smith, Ayn Rand, Ludwig Von Mises and others who have all given us a solid foundation and strong defense for the principles of Capitalism.

So in spite of the fact that our country is sinking further and further into Statism, in spite of the fact that the chips are down, we still have blessings to count.  We have the Tea Party Movement. We have the right ideas. We have the ability to think. Our ancestors worked hard to achieve freedom and if we do it again, Americans will continue to count their Capitalistic blessings Christmas after Christmas.

Charlotte Cushman is a Montessori educator at Minnesota Renaissance School, Anoka, Minnesota and has been involved in the study of Ayn Rand's philosophy since 1970.
There has been much written about the meaning of Christmas. I would like to focus on another aspect of Christmas that is rarely if ever talked about -- how our enjoyment of the holiday has been greatly enhanced because of Capitalism.

It is important to remember what life was like during the 17th century in England when the west first started its march towards Capitalism and the betterment of mankind. It was Capitalism that unleashed the ingenuity of individuals that led to hundreds of inventions that has given people in our country a standard of living never before seen on earth.  It would be overwhelming to name them all, but here are a few examples of how the results of Capitalism has made an enormous change in our holiday celebrations. I like to call these our Capitalistic blessings.

  • Family get-togethers. The average life span in the 17th century was only 35 because many people died when they were still children. If people could survive until their mid-teens they would probably live to 50 or 60 years of age. Today at our family gatherings we can see our grandparents or even great grandparents due to the fact that we live longer.
  • Gift giving. All the wonderful affordable products to buy as a way of expressing good will toward friends and family is only possible because of our wealth. Before Capitalism people were so poor they could only be concerned with day-to-day survival.
  • The American tradition of celebrating Santa Claus. Clement Clarke Moore wrote a poem, "Twas the Night Before Christmas", and it was our country that created the tradition of Santa Claus that we enjoy today -- the jolly red fellow who rides from house to house on a sleigh bringing gifts to deserving children. (Note that Santa doesn't give gifts to just poor children, he gives them to everyone and the only requirement is that they have good behavior.)
  • Christmas lights. Prior to Thomas Edison there were none. Now we have Christmas lights that turn trees, lawns, buildings and many decorations into sparkling beacons of cheer.
  • Clothing. People used to own one or two outfits. Now, not only do we have a whole closet full of clothes, but we have clothes for different puposes such as: work, play, sleep, exercise, sports, lounging, casual, formal and even the holidays.
  • Transportation. Rather than going to church or to grandma's on foot, or if you were fortunate, on horseback, or bouncing around in a stagecoach or horse and buggy, we can travel in warm comfortable cars thanks to Henry Ford, whose goal was to make automobiles affordable to the common man. If you want to travel to friends or family far away, you can also go by bus, train, or airplane.
  • Communication. If you are unable to visit family or friends far away, you can communicate with them easily by email or telephone thanks to people like Alexander Graham Bell, Ray Tomlinson, Bill Gates and others.
  • Christmas stockings. We hang stockings by the chimney so that Santa can fill them with lots of goodies, but chimneys didn't always exist. Homes during the 17th century had a hole in the roof rather than a chimney.
  • Entertainment. Kings had to wait to gather musical ensembles to play for them at their castle. Now thanks to Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and others, even the poorest of us have at our fingertips access to recordings of movies, musical recordings, operas, plays and so on.
  • Holiday meals. How does the daily monotonous diet of bread, cheese, onions and stew (with perhaps pieces of meat or fish if you could afford it) compare to turkey, ham, potatoes, dressing, gravy, cranberries, various salads, vegetable dishes, rolls, olives, pickles, fruit, vegetables with dip, pumpkin pie, whipping cream, cookies, ice cream, candy, nuts, and holiday beverages?
  • Cheap energy. Rather going outside to find and chop firewood for a fire (or cow dung), we now can stay snugly warm inside by using oil, gas or electricity to heat our homes. We can also run all our electronics with affordable abundant energy.
  • New products. Many new products have come into existence that add to Christmas such as holiday florist items, ornaments, specialty gifts, clothing, decorations, dishes, wrapping paper, gift bags, ribbon, and so on.

These are just a few of the many advancements we enjoy due to the work of scientists and producers who were given the freedom to innovate for their own profit.  And because they profited, we have also profited by having a much higher standard of living and much better enjoyment of the holidays than that of our ancestors.  

But I know that many of us feel disheartened this holiday season.  The threat of socialism is too big and bold to ignore. The government has passed legislation so that before long our health care, food, and the internet will be under their total control. For those of us who understand the evil consequences of tyranny, it is hard to feel positive about our future.

One of my favorite holiday pastimes is to watch the 1954 movie "White Christmas."  In it is a song composed by Irving Berlin called Count Your Blessings with this verse: "So if you're worried and you can't sleep, just count your blessings instead of sheep." I have always loved that song, it's optimistic outlook on life even when the chips are down and I always found comfort in knowing that living in America I did indeed have many blessings to count, but the question now is how much longer will that be possible?

It has been said that history repeats itself. Will the United States continue down the path towards the decay of socialism?  It is important to understand that what moves and changes the world is ideas. It was ideas that created the United States of America.  It is ideas again that will save it.  The philosophy of Aristotle lead to the Enlightenment and it was the Enlightenment that led to the establishment of the United States.  Those ideas are still out there.

If we want to save America what needs to be done is to discover, learn and promote the right ideas necessary to sustain freedom throughout the culture.  We need to study the great thinkers like John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Adam Smith, Ayn Rand, Ludwig Von Mises and others who have all given us a solid foundation and strong defense for the principles of Capitalism.

So in spite of the fact that our country is sinking further and further into Statism, in spite of the fact that the chips are down, we still have blessings to count.  We have the Tea Party Movement. We have the right ideas. We have the ability to think. Our ancestors worked hard to achieve freedom and if we do it again, Americans will continue to count their Capitalistic blessings Christmas after Christmas.

Charlotte Cushman is a Montessori educator at Minnesota Renaissance School, Anoka, Minnesota and has been involved in the study of Ayn Rand's philosophy since 1970.

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