Friday, March 22, 2019

Free Markets Are Moral, Not the 'Lesser of Two Evils': New at Reason

By Reason Staff - March 22, 2019 at 08:00AM

Socialism has suddenly become fashionable again on the left. Some see it as something warm and fuzzy (free health care, like in Sweden!), while others drip with hostility at the inequality of market-based economic systems. There was widespread agreement, however, that U.S.-style capitalism has somehow failed.

There's even a strain of conservatism—including some thinkers who have bolstered the Trump presidency—that is dismissive of capitalism. In January, Fox News' commentator Tucker Carlson argued that "any economic system that weakens and destroys families is not worth having." Many social conservatives dislike capitalism because it undermines their cultural values by promoting materialism, vulgarity and hedonism.

Even those in the political center, who might be expected to boisterously defend the market, have some doubts. They seem to view capitalism as a "lesser of two evils" and not a good in itself. New York Times columnist David Brooks in January defended capitalism, but described the way it has turned society into "an atomized collection of individual economic units pursuing self-interest." He called for embedding it with "moral norms" to serve a "larger social good."

A system that lets us make our own decisions about our own lives is more moral than one that transfers them to powerful strangers. Freedom is better than coercion. Prosperity is more uplifting than poverty. Let's not cede the moral high ground to people who tout utopian ideas that usually result in misery, writes Steve Greenhut.

View this article.

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