It’s no exaggeration to say that Laozi was not a fan of “big government”: the more the ruling class taxes people and interferes in their daily lives, the more difficult they are to govern and the greater the likelihood that social conflict will follow.
Conspicuous consumption at the expense of others only serves to further fuel people’s resentment: Laozi wasn’t a fan of the “one percent” either.
The people starve,
Because their rulers levy too much grain tax.
That is why they starve.
The people are difficult to govern,
Because their rulers interfere too much.
That is why they are difficult to govern.
The people make light of death.
Because their rulers lead lives of excess.
That is why they make light of death.
Only those who do not lead lives of excess,
Are best at understanding the true value of life.