Consider Waits and Weil. Waits is a musician who has lived much of his 61 years on bourbon, loose women and cigarettes. Weil, a 67-year-old holistic physician, thrives on organic food and yoga. Each, from his own perspective, leads more or less the kind of life he wants to. Both can be fulfilled. Without actually being them, how can we tell? Waits sings bitter-sweetly of his 'misspent' life. Weil writes, in self-help books, about healthy living. We could observe their behavior or ask them to take an MRI. Otherwise, we have to trust each man's report to determine whether or not they are well or fulfilled. When the government embraces some idea about how people ought to live (value), the instinct might be to tax Waits and subsidize Weil. But why?
The Relentless Subjectivity of Value