Money buys happiness

It’s commonly believed that money doesn’t buy happiness. Sure, we’re happier for a while after a new purchase, but it wears off. We re-normalize back to our baseline level of happiness.

While this is probably not true (richer countries are happier than poorer ones), even if it were, it still doesn’t follow that we shouldn’t strive to become wealthier. To make that inference, you’d have to hold that temporary happiness is worthless and only long-lasting happiness matters. But temporary happiness is valuable and desirable. Even if we’re stuck on a “hedonic treadmill”, we can still get happiness from running.

There’s a direct parallel to the free market system. Entrepreneurs innovate in order to reap profits, but competition always eats away those profits. Profits are always temporary, lasting only as long as it takes for competitors to enter the market. Yet these fleeting profits still provide a powerful motivation for entrepreneurs. Likewise, fleeting happiness is still happiness and still worth pursuing.

So if money buys temporary happiness, and temporary happiness improves our quality of life, then it follows that economic progress matters. And since the level of economic progress depends on how free the market is, economic liberalization is the only way to go.

About Autor

I’m an undergrad student ultimately aiming for an economics PhD. In a nutshell, I’m an atheist, market anarchist, and paleo health enthusiast. In other words, I reject God, Government, and Grain.
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