The Dangers of a Laissez Faire Economy

Owen, Comte de St. Simon, and Marx share similar disdain for laissez faire economies. All three vilify the effects of a free market, in stark contrast to the beliefs of Adam Smith. Owen and Comte de St. Simon are most explicit in their attacks on the free market, blaming its systems and its supporters for the overwhelming decadence of industrial Europe. They argue that laissez faire economies rewards those who exploit others while punishing those with any shred of decency or respect for their fellow man. This compels men to become more selfish and deceitful, or else face monetary destitution, the latter being the more appealing option to most. By this process, men aspiring to the same goal are forced into competition and rivalry, turned against each other by their economic situation. Owen pleads with the people of England to recognize this unnatural animosity, but the proponents of laissez faire economies are firm in their conviction that the interests of the individual and the interests of the society are intertwined. But as Owen elucidates, the laborers who manufacture the products which benefit society are often deprived of the fruits of their labor. The benefits of a free market economy are only immediately realized by those who are selfish and shameless, while the honest working people are left to trudge through fiscal turmoil.

While the United States’ economy is not a completely free market, the ideals of capitalism are still held in high regard by many U.S. citizens. However, as these authors have made obvious, a laissez fair economy is often only advantageous to a minority of the population. Do the pros of capitalism outweigh the cons? Is equality of opportunity more important than equality of outcome? Would we be a better nation if we were more fiscally equal? Or are we a better nation under the ideals of capitalism?

One thought on “The Dangers of a Laissez Faire Economy

  1. I think that there has to be an accommodating medium between “equality of opportunity more important than equality of outcome”. While encouraging successful entrepreneurs to innovate by not taking their complete livelihood is valid, an economy and nation must allow for there to always be an opportunity for a worker to be advance in the job market.

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