It is a commonplace that there is more to life than money and the material benefits that it may provide someone. We often make trade-offs between income-earning work opportunities and more time with family or friends, or between risky but well-paying employment and a calmer and less stressful job that does not pay as well. We might decide whether it is worth forgoing some amount of personal material wealth for a more pleasant and healthy environment. The question is, Should government be trying to measure and manage these and other things like them, instead of each of us finding the right balance and values for ourselves?
Columbia University professor and Nobel Prize winner in economics Joseph E. Stiglitz thinks that it is more the government’s role to sort these things out, and, by implication, less each of ours as individuals. In a recent article titled “Beyond GDP,” Stiglitz points out that the usual measurements of economy-wide economic well-being fall short and leave out a lot of important things that make up a happy, fulfilling, and better life. Correct and recalibrate the measurements, and government can be trusted to take care of a lot of the rest.
The Meddler Wanting to Manage Society
It is an interesting sociological phenomenon how there seems to be an inexhaustible urge and drive among some people to constantly look for ways and means to remake society into their own preferred image. The idea that it is not the business or the right of such people to tell other people how to live, what values they should prefer, and in what manners they should interact with others never seems to enter their heads, particularly when they wish to use the coercive powers of government to make everyone conform to their vision of how to live. In the past, they sometimes have been called busybodies or meddlers.
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