Sure, it’s not perfect. No system is. But one thing capitalism is great at is unleashing the ingenuity and productive ability of a population. And markets reward firms that can reduce costs, leading to innovations in design and production techniques. Over time, while prices may rise due to inflation, most products get cheaper in real terms. One way of understanding the “real” cost of something is to ask yourself: how many hours would the average person have to work to be able to afford a product?
In 1949, the price of a toaster was $16.95. Average wages being $1.26, someone would have to work 13.5 hours to buy a toaster. Now at a price of $19.99, a toaster costs about an hour of a person’s labor.
In 1949, a refrigerator took the average worker 178 hours to buy. That’s 22 days. Over a month of working days to buy a refrigerator. Now it will cost the average worker 3-5 days, depending on the model.
In 1981, the price of a VCR was $1,289. I remember them — my uncle was a police officer and somehow managed to get all the latest gadgets. He seemed to know when one was going to fall off a truck somewhere. We had a VCR and it was giant. At $1,289, that’s 187 hours of work, something clearly only rich people would be able to afford. Now if you can find a VCR (since most places now only carry DVD players), it will set you back maybe $60, or 3 hours of labor.
I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the idea. Capitalism isn’t perfect. Sure, sometimes people are unfortunate and end up with the short end of the stick. But even with the short end of the stick, you can buy a pretty decent basket of goods these days thanks in part to the innovations that capitalism inspires.