Capitalism is inherently sustainable, relentlessly producing more human satisfaction using fewer resources. What environmentalists call “sustainability” ought to be called primitivism, producing less human satisfaction using more resources.
Sanders’ defenders will say he wants to redistribute wealth, not control the allocation of economic goods. But as Hungarian philosopher and economist Anthony de Jasay explained in The State , the two are inseparable. There is no point in taking money from A and giving it to B except to change the allocation of goods. The whole point is to get A to buy less champagne (or spend less money marketing new deodorants) and allow B to buy more of what she wants. Redistribution of wealth is meant to divert resources from “socially useless” goods to socially useful ones.
Which brings us to the principled objection: socially useless to whom? In a world of hungry children, Jones might think it’s idiocy to spend a single cent on one more song by Kanye or Taylor Swift (and Jones would be right!). But that isn’t Jones’ choice to make for anybody except Jones. If Smith wants to waste his money on a pop singer’s latest release, he has every right to do so, and nobody else has the right to force him to do otherwise. After all: If Smith has no right to decide how he will spend his own money, then by what means does Jones, whose money it isn’t, acquire such a right?