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07/11/2009

Who's the Materialist? (by Don Boudreaux)

Here's a letter that I sent recently to the Washington Post:

E.J. Dionne describes capitalism as "a system rooted in materialist values" ("To the Right of the Pope," July 9).  "Materialist values" is a vague term, but if - as seems to be the case - Mr. Dionne thinks the chief justification for capitalism is that it generates lots of stuff for consumers, he's mistaken.

While capitalism emphatically does improve material living standards, all the great champions of economic freedom (aka capitalism) ultimately justify this system because only it affords true dignity to individuals - the dignity that is denied by interventionist systems which arbitrarily diminish each person's freedom to choose.  For "Progressives" such as Mr. Dionne not to share the value of freedom is fine.  But it's rather cheeky to accuse, with one breath, proponents of capitalism of being unduly focused on material goods, and with the next breath to insist that a major problem with capitalism is that some people get fewer material goods than do other people.

Sincerely,
Donald J. Boudreaux

..........................................

"I want to keep what I earn" is regarded as greedy and unenlightened.

"I want to take what you earn" is regarded as selfless and progressive.


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