The Pursuit of Happiness Under Socialism and Capitalism

Cato Journal, Fall 1991.


There are many practical problems that the Soviet Union must address concretely in the months to come: questions about how to organize a political system so that the people’s interests are represented effectively, how to organize an economic system that produces prosperity, and how to organize an international system that not only prevents war but also establishes harmony. These are questions of considerable importance. But let us take a break from these practical affairs and think about something that seems at first glance to be impractical, subjective, unscientific—the stuff of daydreams and yearnings. Let us talk about happiness. More specifically, let us talk about what the American Declaration of Independence calls “the pursuit of happiness” and about how a government can help or hinder its citizens in that pursuit.