It’s not surprising to watch government-managed utility monopolies be unreliable during this winter emergency in Texas for something as essential to life as the ability to cook. I’ve been thinking about it a lot because of the experiences my wife and I have had moving 1,200 miles to a different state during the exact same time as these failed bureaucratic and inept institutions.
- Two days before our move, we found out the moving truck we were going to rent wasn’t available b/c it wasn’t returned. It took me less than 5 minutes to go online and reserve a new truck at a different location at no extra cost.
- We realized it would be better if we got our truck a day earlier so we had more time to pack. I made a 5-minute phone call and was able to get the truck reserved for no extra cost on the very next day, a day earlier than the original date.
- We wanted to get as much of our security deposit back as possible, so we had basically stopped making food at home the day before our move-out date. We had access to dozens of food options in our area, and we could even pay to have it delivered to us so we didn’t have to go out in the cold. We could order anything from greasy junk food from chains to healthy local foods.
- Some people from our local congregation volunteered to come help us load our moving truck with all of our stuff from a third-story apartment with no elevator – all of this in the early morning of a weekend in below freezing weather.
- Before those church folk came to help us, the tire of our car (not the moving truck) hit a screw and went flat. These kind-hearted souls stayed after helping load our moving truck to replace it with our spare, all of this in freezing weather.
- I drove up with no appointment to a tire store where they would fix the flat tire for free. The worker was one of the most friendly I’d ever met and seemed genuinely invested in helping with our problem.
- Unfortunately, the flat tire had experienced irreparable damage on the inside. Still, I was able to instantly buy a brand new tire that works with my car. The whole thing took under an hour, and we were able to still leave the day we planned for our move (even though it was 2 hours later than planned).
- To prepare for the trip, we had bought some snacks both for sustenance and to help us in case we needed to be more awake. Think about how crazy that is in the context of human history – we had food that could be consumed instantly with no preparation, and it cost less than 20 minutes of our labor to afford an abundance of it.
- Just like when we didn’t want to cook so we didn’t have to use already-cleaned appliances in our home, we had plenty of options for food on this 1,200-mile trip. And once again, it ranged from dollar menu quickies to gourmet food still readily available within a half hour. We could also go inside a store and get fruits and other ready-to-be-consumed items.
- We had reserved a hotel about three weeks out for only $75, and that included free cancellation up to the date, a breakfast, and a dog-friendly room. Even though we were more late than planned due to the flat tire, we were able to check-in at 11:45 p.m. at night.
- On our final day of the move, I realized my reservation had us dropping off the U-Haul truck at a different location than the U-Haul location where we had received a month of free storage (and since we will most likely not be using it for a month, that means they are losing money by serving us instead of another). That’s 100% on me, but I called U-Haul and within 5 minutes I was able to change our drop-off location to the same place as our storage unit.
- There was another problem. Originally the plan was to unload and then drop-off the truck on this final day of our road trip, but we were behind schedule b/c we had slept longer than planned after the previous day’s issues. I called U-Haul and was able to reschedule my check-in for our storage unit and the truck drop-off for President’s Day, a holiday, giving us time to go straight to our destination and rest.
People don’t often think about how marvelous entrepreneurship and the free market are because we’ve grown up surrounded by their rewards. We’re such a privileged nation that our poorest poor are still among the wealthiest in the world. But what my wife and I pulled off this weekend isn’t possible with such convenience, quality, and affordability for the average family in even 75% of the countries out there today, including other first world ones, all because they lack the spirit and systems of free enterprise.
If free markets were just fuel for greed and only benefited the rich, my wife and I shouldn’t have been able to move across states the days we planned without paying $100s to $1000s more, esp. considering all the changes we made were errors from our own choices.
Worse is imagining if any of these services were government-run. We wouldn’t be able to reach any help over the phone within a reasonable time, service would be limited to the eight hours of the five days most of us are working, there'd be little to no customer service, and the changes to our services would not be likely to be free let alone instantaneous and performed over a holiday weekend.
I assume it’s because most people have never really thought about how incredible their livelihoods are with these ideas in mind, a symptom of growing up in a system you never really recognized and have been conditioned or told to loathe by entertainment and "educational" institutions. But look around you. Consciously note the results of this system that, while still being held back by advocates for top-down control and limiting the human spirit, promotes the individual and enables them and their community to serve one another through bottom-up solutions. I think you'll be amazed at just how privileged and prosperous you are.