What makes us better off?

Earlier we discussed  an article (maybe not) in the WSJ about how we are all doing better because we have such cool things as flat screen TVs and the like.  In any case, today there are letters including one from John Tiemstra of Grand  Rapids.  Instead of the usual defense and/or cheerleading, they offer some interesting perspectives to how we understand material wealth.

later comment: The big problem in the original essay was always the easy parallel between consumption and wealth: I am rich because of what I purchase. This rather misses the point that wealth means the resources to see one’s way, whatever the way is. Money is as they say a way of keeping score, it is also implicitly, a measure of power. This latter is the great distorting force that needs to be constrained. the Founders had it right that one could not constrain the strong man directly, but only through a web of competing institutions; constraint is built by the web not by the mandate.

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