Rather than write a new New Year’s column, Donald Boudreaux recycled one of his from 2005. Here it is:
Happy New Year!
This winter morning I bought a bouquet of wildflowers from the supermarket. Its price was $5.99. The flowers are fresh, beautiful, fragrant – and from Ecuador.
Ponder this fact.
For a mere one hour and eight minutes of work, a minimum-wage worker in the United States can acquire a bouquet of fresh flowers grown in South America. In other words, for 68 minutes of working in the U.S., a minimum wage worker can take home some of the beautiful fruits of the efforts of strangers in Ecuador who plant, tend, and pick flowers – of other strangers (where?) who make the protective packing material used for shipping the flowers – of yet other strangers who pilot the planes and drive the trucks that transport these flowers fresh from Ecuador to U.S. supermarkets – and of the countless other strangers who build the planes and trucks, who fuel the planes and trucks, who pave the runways and roads used by the planes and trucks, who feed the pilots and drivers, who insure airlines, trucking companies, and supermarkets against casualty losses, who wake up at pre-dawn hours to put the flowers into an attractive display in the supermarket.
These and millions of other strangers all worked — all cooperated — to make it possible for me and my family to enjoy a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers in the deep winter. And all for a mere $5.99.
I just checked online. I can get a bouquet of flowers for Mary down at King Soopers – a mile away – for under $10. Just thinking about how all the pieces and parts of the puzzle that allowed that to happen gives me a headache, and a great sense of admiration at how the invisible hand of the free market works.
Happy New Year to you!