Those ranging from the far left to moderate liberals are constantly bashing economic freedom, free markets, and libertarians. They claim that libertarian ideology and free markets would result in corporate feudalism, where a handful of rich capitalists profit leisurely while the masses grind through poverty.
Here’s the truth though: Nothing in the history of mankind has created more social welfare and human welfare than the market has. Nothing else in history has lifted more people out of poverty, created more wealth, or made valuable goods, services, and technology as abundant and accessible to even the poorest of people as the market has. Nothing comes close, and the truth is no one has benefited more than the masses of impoverished classes who have had their quality of life vastly improved by economic freedom.
Further explained, here is why progressives should love the free market, not abhor it.
1. It Is the Ultimate Poverty Fighting Machine
Global extreme poverty, as defined by living on $2 a day or less, made up 95% of the global population in 1820. Today that number is down to 9%. In less than 200 years we’ve seen the most brutal poverty around the word decrease by 84%, that is massive. This is predominantly thanks to global free trade and free markets. To put it into further context, the United States, in about one century, went from a country of majority poor farmers to the wealthiest country in the history of the world with far fewer farmers. You can thank economic freedom for that.
2. The Free Market Is Anti-Economic Privilege
Inherent in the philosophy of laissez-faire is the belief that no business should receive preferential treatment or benefits from government. To create a truly free market would mean to end all corporate welfare – direct subsidies, regulations written in favor of corporations, and special tax breaks.
It’s important to consider that since 1955, nearly 9 out of 10 companies on the Fortune 500 no longer exist. In the long run the market makes it incredibly difficult to survive. Corporations have only two ways of surviving: 1) innovate and offer quality services that people continually willingly pay for, or; 2) lobby the government for taxpayer-funded subsidies, protection from competition, and bailouts. Corporate welfare is the #1 thing driving corporatism and monopoly in this country.
3. It Is Highly Progressive, Completely Voluntary, and Consensual
The market drives enormous progress in all aspects of our lives and in so many ways that we can’t even fathom. The market is a never-ending process that is always looking to produce more with less input. This process results in abundance of economic choices, lower prices, innovation, and new technology.
The creation of cleaner and more efficient energy has been a product of competitive market forces. The greatest economic achievements of mankind have been results of economic freedom and entrepreneurialism. Even the preservation of the environment and of animals has been made better by the innovative forces of markets.
Progressives like to say “my body, my choice,” and I agree, I own my body therefore I get to decide how the product of my labor is used. I get to choose what kind of healthcare I need or if I even need health insurance at all. I get to choose who I sell my labor to and at what price. I get to choose who I hire and at what price. I get to make the final say in how my business is run, because it is an extension of my body’s labor and effort. I took the risk, I put in the time and physical effort, and it is my authority, solely mine.
Politicians getting to decide how to spend the money I earned is the equivalent of those politicians claiming ownership over my body and the fruits of my effort. And if I were to refuse to give up my property, I’d be arrested and imprisoned.
Remember, the underlying premise of markets is mutually beneficial voluntary exchange. Two people come together, they each value what the other has more than what they individually have, so they willingly trade and create more value for themselves.