The age-old argument of how much government is the right amount has no simple answer. In society it is always easy to point out some perceived inequity and conclude: “There ought to be a law!” But should there?
Each and every law steals a bit of freedom from society. The empirical data, at least in terms of per capita income, is clear. The more freedom, the higher the per capita income. While per capita income may not measure “quality of life” to anyone’s satisfaction, there is no objective measure that can. Per capita income is objective, albeit imperfect. It measures, in some manner, the range of options available to an individual. To the extent that one has more options, he is able to define “quality of life” in ways that are unavailable with fewer options. A rich man can choose to live as a poor man, but a poor man cannot succeed (at least for long) spending as if he were rich.
None of this discussion is meant to judge a person’s character or goodness by his net worth. As anyone with normal life experiences knows, there is no correlation between the two measures.
The chart below captures a relationship between freedom and per capita income. The disgruntled might argue against such data by attacking the definitional classifications. More likely they will argue that per capita income is a meaningless measure. But what is a better one?