Millionaire actor Mark Ruffalo wants to “Hulk smash” capitalism. Having already used the free market system to get rich, he wants to
make sure nobody else can follow in his footsteps save the world from filthy lucre, or something.
“It’s time for an economic revolution. Capitalism today is failing us, killing us, and robbing from our children’s future,” Ruffalo tweeted on Sunday, apparently oblivious to the fact that capitalism has enriched him and his three children.
It’s time for an economic revolution. Capitalism today is failing us, killing us, and robbing from our children’s future. https://t.co/OnNm6CYrWK
— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) December 1, 2019
The actor tweeted this along with a Time article by Anand Giridharadas that calls for a new revolution against America’s current “Gilded Age.”
Ruffalo has long been known for liberal advocacy, but it is truly remarkable to see a millionaire call for the destruction of the market system that brought him his wealth. According to Celebrity Net Worth, this actor, best known for his role as Bruce Banner/The Hulk in The Avengers (2012) and associated sequels, is worth a cool $30 million.
As a millennial, I have long been surprised by just how blasé my generation has been regarding capitalism. Young professional millennials enjoy fresh, exotic food and drink, the historic modern opportunities to travel the world, the freedom to purchase anything with a click from our smartphones, and so much more. Yet we repeatedly condemn the very free-market capitalistic system that allows all this unprecedented wealth, assuming that government control would fix all the apparent injustices without sacrificing the things we enjoy so much.
Ruffalo is not a millennial, but he seems to be suffering from the same cognitive dissonance. The actor enjoys a degree of wealth far outside the reach of most people today — and unimaginable to most people in history — because he can “Hulk smash” on screen. As an avid fan of the Avengers movies, I’m glad to spend money to watch it. He deserves that money because he entertains millions, regardless of his politics. Yet he could not have earned this sum without America’s system of free-market capitalism, based on ideas of private property, settled contracts, and the wide accessibility of goods and services.
Capitalism did not emerge from nothing, and it should not be taken for granted. Ruffalo and Giridharadas may lament the inequalities involved, but the free-market system has allowed for unprecedented prosperity that is surprisingly widespread throughout modern economies. Devices that provide heat, cold, refrigeration, easy cooking, cleaning, and ready access to entertainment and information are available to rich and poor alike. No medieval king had access to such riches.
In the 20th century, Italy, Germany, Russia, China, Cambodia, and many other countries experimented with whole-hog rejections of the free market system. Those efforts devolved into heinous government tyranny and they destroyed the kind of wealth Americans now enjoy. Millions upon millions died in horrific conditions, and the poor suffered far more than they did under capitalism. Capitalism is not killing modern Americans, but the rejection of capitalism resulted in the deaths of millions in the 1900s.
Even the United States tried War Socialism under Democrat Woodrow Wilson, and Democrats experienced stunning electoral defeats as Americans rejected the rationing, government propaganda, and corruption of the Wilson administration.
The free-market system is imperfect, but government intervention can kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. Mark Ruffalo and the millennial generation should take a hard look at human history. The kind of prosperity we enjoy is nothing short of a miracle, and it is extremely different from the poverty and tyranny that dominates millennia of human history. The free-market system that enabled this miracle must be cherished and defended.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.