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Who’s the Materialist?

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.

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.