by Chuck DeVore
Texas Public Policy Foundation
January 23, 2014
Alex de Tocqueville developed the concept of soft tyranny in 1835 in Democracy in America. Tocqueville, saw the danger of soft tyranny in America when “…a network of small complicated rules …” acted to reduce citizens to sheep with the government their “shepherd.” Today, soft tyranny takes the form of a federal government which directs almost a quarter of the economy. The federal government’s sway over the economy—its ability to direct the economic decisions of private citizens and the states—can be quantified. This paper introduces the “Soft Tyranny Index” to measure government’s interventionary power, showing that states with a lower Soft Tyranny Index perform better economically than states with a high Index.

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