I was listening to our morning guy talk on the air today about technology and Twitter and how we’re all spoiled enough as it is, and he was citing Louis CK saying:

When I read things like, “The foundations of capitalism are shattering,” I’m like, “Maybe we need that.” … Because everything is amazing right now, and nobody’s happy. … We live in an amazing, amazing world and it’s wasted on the crappiest generation of spoiled idiots that just don’t care. …

I was on an airplane and there was high-speed internet on the airplane. That’s the newest thing that I know exists. And I’m sitting on the plane and they go, “Open up your laptop, you can go on the internet.” And it’s fast, I’m watching YouTube clips, it’s amazing—I’m in an airplane. And then it breaks down, and they apologize, “The internet’s not working.” And the guy next to me goes, “Pfff! This is bullshit.” Like how quickly the world owes him something he knew existed only ten seconds ago!

That’s very true, and I love his longer spiel along these lines (which can be found here by the way). Capitalism has produced the most prosperous, most peaceful period in human history. We should all be damned grateful.

But what it may be possible to miss is that it’s precisely humankind’s dissatisfaction with the way things are that makes modern life so “amazing”! Why did we want the internet, or computers, or flight in the first place? We were malcontents! We didn’t consider that we were spoiled enough to have wagons pulled by horses, or that we had found penicillin, or that we had developed the means to build massive bridges and dams. We weren’t done yet. We could make life even better!

What Louis CK says is very true, and I think we should all pause to remind ourselves – especially western liberals who are tempted to doubt the good of capitalism – just how wonderful a place we’ve created. But I don’t like the word “spoiled”, because it’s an arbitrary comparison. Why compare life today to the past, and to our lack, rather than to the hopeful future, and to our ideas? We can do much, much better than this, and I don’t say that because I’m spoiled, I say it because I love what we’ve done with capitalism so far and look forward to what we can do with it going forward.

After all, without it, as Louis CK says, we’d have donkeys carrying tin cans.