The annual Forbes list of billionaires is making news, and I’m waiting for the Left to begin the usual chorus about “income inequality” and how it’s not “fair” that these people are so wealthy. Here’s hoping we’ll be spared that nonsense. What I find really interesting about this year’s list are these facts:

  • A record 1,645 billionaires (up from 1,426 in 2013) made the list, with an average net worth of $4.7 billion (up from $4.2 billion in 2013).
  • Added together, the total net worth for this year’s billionaires was $6.4 trillion, up from $5.4 trillion last year.
  • 1,080 members, or roughly two-thirds of the list, were self-made billionaires; 207 inherited their wealth, another 352 inherited at least a portion but are still growing it.

    So, two out of three are “self-made.” In other words, they’ve created their wealth, and that is what freedom is all about. But to ensure that each of us has the opportunity to create our own wealth, we must protect freedom and free markets. That means supporting economic policies that encourages wealth creation and prosperity and fighting against policies that may sound good but impede prosperity. JLF’s John Hood has studied economic policies and found out which ones lead to prosperity and which ones don’t. Here’s a taste of his analysis:

    Last year, I conducted a literature survey of all recent studies published in academic or professional journals that examined the relationship between government policies and state economic performance. From 1992 to 2013, there were 31 studies of economic freedom indexes. In 24 of them (77 percent), higher economic-freedom scores were associated with higher economic performance after adjusting for other factors. In the remaining seven studies, there was no statistically significant relationship. Not a single study found that higher economic freedom — which primarily means lower taxes, spending, and regulatory burdens — was statistically associated with lower economic growth.

    A 2012 paper in the International Journal of Economics and Finance, for example, found that states with higher economic freedom tend to attract higher levels of investment from foreign firms, which then leads to more economic growth. A 2007 study in the Southern Economic Journalfound that states attract another form of valuable capital, people, to the extent they embrace economic freedom.