An indelible image of people struggling under socialism is bread lines — people waiting hours, even days, for the bare minimum of food. The lesson they teach about free markets vs. socialism is this: Under socialism, you wait for bread. With a free market, the bread waits for you.

Government doesn’t know how to make bread. Not bake it; make it — which involves choosing the right land for growing the wheat; planting and nurturing wheat; milling the flour; manufacturing or finding and producing yeast, salt, and sugar, and so forth; getting all those ingredients to market; and then, only at the end of all those processes and more, baking it. A free market sees people with specialized knowledge doing all the separate tasks and subtasks independently.

Adam Smith explained how not knowing how to make bread could result in bread via the profit motive: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”

Smith explained that people looking out for their own interests has the byproduct of increasing social welfare (the stated goal of socialism) because in looking out for their own interests, they must look out for others’ interest so as to bargain with them: “Give me that which I want, and you shall have this which you want.”

The most successful among us anticipate what you want and offer it to you in order to be more assured you’ll give us what we want. The successful will trade goods and services for your dollars, making you happy, so they can use those dollars to trade for others’ goods and services, increasing their own welfare, too. They don’t need to know how to produce all those goods and services themselves.

The government opts for orders, overregulation, and incentives

Buc-ee’s is a successful gasoline and retail business, and — much to the excitement of many in the community — it is poised to open its first North Carolina gas station in Mebane. Anticipating travelers’ needs and offering them what they want is what Buc-ee’s does. It combines a very large gas station (Mebane’s would feature 120 pumps) with a massive retail store offering groceries, clothing, toys, sundries, and gifts along with many food options, including its famous brisket. Importantly for road-trippers, it is also known for having very clean bathrooms.

Buc-ee’s saw that travelers on long road trips needed not only fuel and food, but also reliably clean facilities and even a way to break the boredom without making a bunch of stops. Buc-ee’s does so well that, for many travelers, it is a destination in itself.

The market approach to meeting travelers’ needs differs from the government approach. Some government leaders (including President Joe Biden and Gov. Roy Cooper) think people shouldn’t have the cars they have, because they’re gasoline-powered, and prefer they buy electric vehicles (EVs) instead. They want refueling stations to provide EV recharging ports. Most importantly, they seek to use the power of government — orders, overregulation, incentives (money taken from taxpayers and given to consumers who do their bidding), and disincentives (laws and regulations making politically unfavored consumer options harder to obtain) — to bring these changes about.

Incidentally, it takes around 2–3 minutes to fill a gas-powered car’s tank completely. Meaning it takes about as long to drive up, select a fueling station, enter payment information, unscrew the cap, and engage the nozzle as it does to refuel. In stark contrast, what the government calls a “fast” EV charging station takes “30 minutes or so” to get your battery just 80% full (about 100–200 miles of range).

Where government starts by considering only its wants, Buc-ee’s and other market competitors (Sheetz, Wawa, etc.) start by considering your wants. So the government doesn’t have to regulate, order, or incentivize retail gasoline stations into existence.

For those with government’s preferred choice in a drive — including Biden’s energy secretary, WRAL, and unfortunate drivers stuck in Chicago’s EV charger “car graveyards” — they wait for recharging. There are plenty of refueling options for gas-powered cars. Gas stations wait for you.