(Editor’s Note: This essay is reprinted from the November 1997 issue of Forecasts & Strategies. It’s a bit dated, but the message is worth repeating.)
As we celebrate Thanksgiving today, I wonder how much we appreciate the blessings of the marketplace — how millions of people work together to make our lives more enjoyable. We often forget that the marketplace is based on cooperation, not just competition. The following is my tribute to the benefits of the marketplace.
I wake up to music from a radio clock, roll out of bed and take a shower. A simple procedure, but how much labor, know-how and machinery went into these little things we often take for granted? I eat a bowl of cereal while reading the local newspaper. Imagine all those reporters who stayed up all night getting the paper ready for me to read and the workers who printed the paper and delivered it to my door this morning — all for 25 cents. Well, I don’t even think about it. I kiss my wife and kids goodbye (think of all the things they do to make my life worthwhile) and get into my car.
How many work hours, capital and technology did it take so that I could jump into my car, turn on the ignition and drive away? Inside my car is every luxury — air conditioning, stereo and mobile phone. How much investment of people and money was involved in creating this automobile and its gadgets?
On my way to the airport, I stop at a convenience store to buy a few items. It’s incredible how many hundreds of goods they stock to suit my fancy. When I arrive at the airport, a skycap is here waiting to check my luggage, and I walk into the terminal. Upon entering the jet, a flight attendant greets me with a smile and asks if I would like a beverage. Pilots and mechanics are fast at work to make sure my flight is safe and arrives on time. The jet is fueled — imagine all the work and effort involved in that process alone — and off I go to my destination, San Francisco, thousands of miles away. High above the earth, at 35,000 feet, the airline attendant serves me a meal, including roast beef, potatoes, vegetables and fruit. I won’t even try to figure out how many people were involved in preparing this meal from scratch, from the farmer to the cook.
After several hours, I arrive, pick up my bags at baggage claim and quickly go to the car rental counter, where a smart young man helps me choose a new automobile, ready and waiting for me to drive. I fill out a form, give him my credit card, and off I go. Driving through the streets of San Francisco, I see all the stores filled with goods, and employees ready to help me buy.
I can’t help but think of all the public employees working to make my drive safe and enjoyable — the streetlights working, and the roads paved and properly repaired. Driving over the Bay Bridge, I marvel at this mechanical miracle that was built decades ago, men and women of yesteryear who sacrificed their time, money and muscle to make it all happen…for me…today.
In less than an hour, I arrive at my hotel, where a man offers to take my car to valet parking. I walk into the hotel lobby, where I register and go to my room. Inside, I relax on a clean bed, and see an array of services and products at my fingertips. The hotel telephone can do so many things. I can call room service, the concierge for dinner reservations, or listen to messages on voice mail. I call home and check on the family, who bring me up to date on all the goings-on in Orlando. My wife tells me that she had to take my daughter to the emergency room at the hospital — she took seven stitches from an accident at an ice-skating rink. I think of the doctor, the nurses, and all those tools and machines ready to help my daughter recover. Fortunately, she’s okay.
After hanging up, I pick up the TV remote control and push a button. One channel informs me of all the trading on Wall Street and the world for the day. A second channel runs a classic movie from the 1940s. A third is a sports channel. Can you imagine how many years of training it took for those athletes to compete?
Right before I go out for the evening, a fax message is delivered to my door. It’s from my publisher, who has prepared my latest marketing piece for my newsletter. People seem to be working overtime for me. I walk out of the hotel room, get into a taxi and go to a local Chinese restaurant. There they are, all these cooks and waiters, just waiting to serve me and my friends. Following dinner, we go to the theater and see a delightful musical play. The actors and the orchestra are magnificent. I think about all the years of training it took those actors and musicians to perform like that. What a wonderful evening.
On the way home, I see a military cemetery, filled with white crosses of soldiers who died so that I could live in a free country.
Coming back to my hotel room, I note that the maid has turned down my bed and left a chocolate on the nightstand. I walk into the bathroom and brush my teeth. I marvel at the little things the hotel management has arranged to make my visit a pleasurable stay. Just the plumbing itself is a modern miracle. Climbing into bed, I turn on the TV and see a comedian on a talk show. I wonder how long it took for her and her researchers to come up with those funny lines.
What an amazing day it has been. The marketplace is at my beck and call. All these things to enjoy. Of course, I had to pay for all those goods and services, and without money or credit, I could not have benefited from the commercial flight, car rental, hotel, taxi, telephone calls, dinner at the restaurant, theater, and a host of other things. But surely it was a small price to pay compared to the benefits received, most of which I could never have done myself. And for that I get on my knees and thank God for the world we live in.
The High Point of My Visit to North Carolina
Last week, my wife and I spent several days in North Carolina, where I gave lectures at Wake Forest University, High Point University and the AAII investment group in Raleigh.
The highlight was visiting the incredible campus of High Point University. Dr. Nido Qubein, a Lebanese immigrant and businessman/banker, returned to his alma mater to become president in 2005, and he has transformed a struggling little liberal arts college into a free-market powerhouse institution in North Carolina.
I gave two lectures there, one to the investment club and another to over 100 business/economics/finance students on gross output (GO) and “What drives the economy?”
Wow, what a beautiful campus! It is now home to over 100 buildings, and it is growing fast: Go here to find out why it is “the premier life skills university.” It just goes to show you how important a dynamic, growth-oriented college president can be.
Among others, Steve Wozniak (co-founder of Apple) is the Innovator in Residence at High Point.
Qubein is very pro-capitalist and anti-woke. He said High Point University was the only college that stayed open during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic in North Carolina.
And the students are active and willing to learn. Students don’t normally buy books these days, but the investment students did — they bought a dozen of my “Maxims on Wall Street.”
Dozens of Subscribers are Buying ‘Maxims’ for the Holidays
I’m also delighted that many of you are ordering one or more copies of the “Maxims” as gifts for the holidays. You can give them to friends, clients and students. Over the past week, I received multiple orders.
The price of the 10th-anniversary edition is only $20 for the first copy and $10 for all additional copies. A whole box of 32 copies is priced at just $300. I autograph and number each one, and I even mail them at no extra charge if the address is inside the United States. To order, go to www.skousenbooks.com.
May you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving this week. We have much to be thankful for in this land of the free.
Yours for peace, prosperity and liberty, AEIOU,
You Nailed It!
Election Integrity: The French Do It Right!
At next year’s FreedomFest (July 12-15, 2023, in Memphis, Tennessee) we are going to have a special session on the all-important question of election integrity.
It’s not often we turn to France to learn how to do things right, but when it comes to voting, the French are light years ahead of the United States.
Since the 2020 pandemic, most states have allowed and even encouraged voting by mail, which creates the possibility of voter fraud or rumors of voter irregularities.
The French are different, as Canadian Frenchman Jean-Benoit Nadeau and his wife Julie Barlow write in their book “Sixty Million French Can’t Be Wrong.” (I had them speak at FreedomFest several years ago, and they were a hit.)
I highly recommend their book, and you can buy it here.
The French vote on election day only — no early voting. And there is no absentee voting either. French men and women living or working abroad must go to the French embassy or consulate to vote on election day.
They don’t use electronic voting ballots, which may be compromised. They use paper ballots in paper envelopes.
And yet they are still able to count all the votes at the end of the day.
Check it out in this report.
Jean-Benoit Nadeau wrote me this week and added the following about the French voting system:
1) All citizens are automatically registered to vote. Voting is not mandatory, but it is facilitated by the fact that it always takes place on a Sunday, when most citizens have a day of rest.
2) There is also no gerrymandering. The electoral map corresponds exactly to the administrative map, and that’s it.
3) The rules are set by the Ministry of the Interior, and the vote is administered by towns, and it always takes place in primary schools (except abroad where it is administered by consulates).
Call it old school, but it works. Vive la France!