Free markets and entrepreneurship are driven not by greed but by earned success. For some people, earned success means business success, while for others, it means helping the poor, raising good kids, building a nonprofit, or making beautiful art — whatever allows people to create value in their lives and in the lives of others. Earned success gets at the heart of “the pursuit of happiness.” The General Social Survey from the University of Chicago reveals that people who say they feel “very successful” or “completely successful” in their work lives are twice as likely to say they are very happy about their overall lives than people who feel “somewhat successful.” And it doesn’t matter if they earn more or less; the differences persist.
In a society that rewards initiative and offers opportunity, free enterprise fosters aspiration and ambition. In a social democracy with economic stagnation, you find envy, resentment, unrest — just look at Greece and Spain, where people are demanding government benefits instead of demanding to keep more of what they earn.