Liberal With the Facts

by Don Boudreaux on October 28, 2008

in Myths and Fallacies

Here are two letters that I sent recently to the Wall Street Journal:

24 October 2008

To the Editor:

Robert Inlow writes that “Liberals have been responsible for gaining women equal rights” (Letters, October 24).  To make such a claim is akin to crediting the diplomats who negotiate an enemy-country’s military surrender for doing all the hard work that won the war.  Capitalism’s ethos of freedom of contract – and its creation of inexpensive washing machines, vacuum cleaners, disinfectants, and other household appliances and products – have done far more to promote women’s rights than has any “liberal” crusader or politician.

Donald J. Boudreaux


To the Editor:

Rober Inlow, relying on a dictionary definition, praises modern “liberals” (as they are mistakenly, if widely, called in the English-speaking world) for being “tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others” (Letters, October 24).


Has Mr. Inlow forgotten about the so-called “liberals” who want to restrict people’s ability to smoke and to eat trans-fats?  How does he account for “liberals'” intolerance of workers who wish voluntarily to agree to work for less than the minimum-wage?  And what’s his explanation for “liberals'” officious insistence that individuals cannot be trusted to provide for their own retirements?

Modern “liberals” – although tolerant on a few important fronts – generally are eager to regulate, mandate, and otherwise intolerantly order ordinary people about.  True liberals in the tradition of Milton Friedman and F.A. Hayek abhor such officiousness.

Donald J. Boudreaux


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