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The Rule of Law: What is it and why is it beneficial? | Chapter 4


Published October 3, 2022

There is one defining feature of prosperous nations: the “rule of law.” The rule of law secures an individual’s property, ensures contracts are enforced, and provides a legal mechanism to address unjust laws and rules, which creates a stable environment that promotes widespread prosperity. Found out why our future prosperity depends on our government committing itself to follow the rule of law more faithfully.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are examples of the rule of law? 
  2. Do you think the rule of law is important for governments to follow? Even if that would mean governments ignore the changes in public opinion for years?
View Transcript

Throughout human history, poverty has been the reality for most people, but things have changed for the better over the past 200 years. Far fewer people are living in poverty nowadays, and prosperity and progress are way more widespread in many countries. 

Many countries, but not all countries. 

Too many people across the world still don’t have the same opportunities we take for granted. While some countries have thrived in the past few centuries, others were left behind—sometimes far behind—in terms of prosperity. 

So what makes a country prosperous? 

Natural resources? Not necessarily. There are regions with massive oil reserves or expansive farmland that are still poor. 

Tourism? Photo-ready landscapes and rich culture might attract visitors to a country, but that doesn’t always lead to prosperity for citizens either.

What about a high literacy rate? A population that can read and write definitely doesn’t hurt, but some places have educated citizens and still don’t give them opportunities to put their knowledge to use. Congrats on completing your degree! Now get to work. 

There is one defining feature of nations that have prospered: the “rule of law.” Basically, it’s the idea that laws apply to everyone, that regulations should be predictable and enforced equally. They shouldn’t be easily changed when whoever’s in charge has a mood swing. 

Justice. Fairness. All that good stuff. 

But what does it have to do with making people more prosperous?

Imagine the goals you have for your future. If the future feels a little far-off right now, that’s okay. Let’s say you want to invent a new piece of technology, buy a home, and travel the world. You know you’ll have to work hard and make a plan to achieve those goals. 

You can’t make plans without making some assumptions. When you invent something, you assume you can do the necessary paperwork to call dibs on it, own it, and help you earn a living. 

What if that wasn’t a safe assumption? How would it feel to create something you’re proud of and then be told it isn’t yours anymore? 

Without the rule of law, the government could decide that your invention belongs to someone else without any warning. Knowing that, would you even invest your time and resources to invent it in the first place? Would you buy a home if it could be taken away from you at any time? What good are travel plans if the requirements to get a passport are constantly changing?  

The future is already filled with unknowns, but in countries that don’t have the rule of law, nothing is ever really certain. Your future depends on the whims and choices of those who happen to be in power. 

These countries might have plenty of natural resources; they might even have educated populations, but without the rule of law, their people are less likely to set goals and invest in their future.

Now, let’s be real. That’s not to say countries with the rule of law have perfect governments. Not every law is just, and rules aren’t always applied fairly to everyone, even if they are supposed to be. But countries with the rule of law set their people up to confidently plan for the future, take risks, and pursue ambitious goals. 

Our future prosperity depends on our government committing itself to more faithfully follow the rule of law. Whatever your dreams are, you deserve every opportunity to make them happen.