Can’t #endpoverty without ending capitalism,” claimed a recent post on Teen Vogue, an online-only media organ that's part of an empire estimated to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue each year.

Ironically, Teen Vogue is owned by Conde Nast, a company that wouldn’t exist were it not for capitalism. That should shed some light on the credibility of Teen Vogue’s claim. The reality is, all attempts to indoctrinate the youth with failed ideologies aside, that we need more capitalism and less socialism to end poverty.

Capitalism is an economic system based on the idea of the free market. Instead of using central planners and compulsion, a free-market economy harnesses the natural incentives of millions and billions of individuals to pursue their own self-interest, and from these forces it produces widespread prosperity.

As Adam Smith, the Scottish philosopher known for studying real-world human behavior and formalizing economics into a science, wrote, “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”

Smith’s philosophy of enlightened self-interest may sound selfish, but it’s not: Although the average Teen Vogue employee gets what he or she wants, namely money to spend on desires and necessities, the employee is also providing a service to Teen Vogue. Conde Nast gets what it wants, an online platform with controversial clickbait articles, and it provides an outlet for employees to have their work published and for companies to advertise their products. The various companies paying Teen Vogue advertising money get exposure to potential consumers.

All the actors are pursuing their own interest without being forced to do so. And this results in cooperation and benefits for all involved — wealth creation, useful employment, and goods and services that people want.

Socialism is enforced by government and the threat of violence. It is a win-lose proposition and a zero-sum game. Under socialist regimes, the government uses the force of the state to take from some and gives to others. Capitalism, on the other hand, creates a win-win scenario. In any given transaction in a free market, every person involved believes they benefited, and they’re all correct, or else the transaction would not happen.

Teen Vogue’s preposterous promotion of socialism is even more hypocritical than that, though. It's not just that these calls for more socialism are being made by entities that couldn't exist without capitalism, but the free-market principles they are demonizing comprise history's only proven way to end poverty.

In 1981, 44 percent of the world's population was classified as living in “extreme poverty,” which means earning $1.90 per day or less in wages, according to the World Bank. As of 2013, that number had declined to just 10.7 percent. This was the direct result of the transition by many large countries — including China, India, and Russia — to largely free-market economies and away from socialism.

Unfortunately, many countries, including the United States, cling to suboptimal big-government policies and to policies that subject market forces to political considerations. This is known as "crony capitalism." But although flawed, this is still far better than a full-fledged socialist system, which would cause poverty to skyrocket.

If people truly want to end poverty — and they should — they should choose the only proven way to do that, instead of endorsing pie-in-the-sky fantasies and long-discredited ideologies. Big government wealth redistribution policies are a main cause of poverty. People who create and innovate, including the bright minds behind drawing readers and advertisers to Teen Vogue, should be celebrated for providing goods and services that people want.

To end poverty, government needs to get out of the way of the people, and let the magic of the free market work, as it has every single time it’s been allowed to do so.

Jesse Hathaway ( is a research fellow with The Heartland Institute.