There is a beautiful video circulating today about the ingenuity of a child and (even though most viewers don’t know it) the beauty of capitalism. The video is called Caine’s Arcade, and its star is a 9-year-old boy who builds arcade games out of cardboard boxes in his dad’s auto shop in L.A.
Caine works on this project all summer. His game designs are ingenious, resourceful, and fun. But the arcade is in a run-down neighborhood, and he only gets one customer, Nirvan Mullick.
Mullick, however, is a filmmaker and promoter, and he organizes a flash mob of customers to surprise Caine at the arcade. You will likely need Kleenex to be ready for the boy’s expression when he realizes the crowd is there for his games.
Caine and Mullick are both geniuses, and they did this entirely on their own entrepreneurial initiative. That’s how the free market is supposed to work.
In an effort to support the boy, Mullick’s website is soliciting donations — already more than $100,000! — to a college scholarship for Caine. The donation box says, “Imagine what this kid could build with an engineering degree!”
Now, it is clear that Caine has serious engineering potential. But why are we so sure that building is his biggest skill? Let’s see what Caine has accomplished: he recognized underused resources (cardboard boxes); he imagined customer demand; he invested an entire summer of labor and quite a bit of money into building these games; he held out when everyone else thought his business was going nowhere; then he found an advertiser to partner with, and then customers; now he has become an Internet sensation, with fans clamoring to buy T-shirts and “fun pass” tickets to the arcade.
Sure, Caine is a potential engineer. But he is already a successful entrepreneur!
The problem here is that viewers have accepted the longstanding socialist assumption that the entrepreneurs — the imaginers, inventors, and risk-bearers, those who stay up all night creating new things that others value — in fact produce nothing at all. The assumption is that an auto-parts store owner is just a mechanic, that a filmmaker is just a cameraman, and that Caine is just an engineer.
So watch the movie. Laugh, cry, and share it with your friends.
And then consider investing in Caine’s arcade, where value is created.