Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Free Markets, Free People, Free Society

As Americans explored the increasing economic freedoms of the 1800's, the nation prospered. The abolition of slavery, even if it meant a temporary setback for the businesses of the deep south, brought opportunities for millions of Americans. The defeat of the Populists, or People's Party, with their desire for increased taxes, encouraged the markets and workshops in small towns across the country. As the growth continued, small businesses turned into big businesses, and new ways of envisioning trade arose. Cengage's history book states:

Corporations were changing the face of America. Their railroad and telegraph lines crisscrossed the country. Their factories employed millions. Their production and management techniques became the envy of the industrialized world. A new kind of building - the skyscraper - came to symbolize America's corporate power. These modern towers were made possible by the use of steel rather than stone framework and by the inventions of electrically powered elevators.

But it did always go so smoothly. Although the rise of large corporations created wealth and job opportunities for millions of people, and raised the standard of living for almost all Americans, there were times when the system went bad. A good business environment depends upon a free market, in which everyone can compete fairly. But some corporations were in league with the government: a cozy relationship between a business and the government can lead to unfair advantages being given to that business: then there is no free market, and no fair competition. All corporations should face the fierce conditions of competition equally; only then will a truly free market create prosperity for lower, middle, and upper class citizens.

Temple University's Mark Levin writes

that the individual is more than a producer and consumer of material goods. He exists within the larger context of the civil society—which provides for an ordered liberty.

Free markets do more than raise the standard of living for the working class. Free markets acknowledge human dignity. The worker

sees in the free market the harmony of interests and rules of cooperation that also underlie the civil society. For example, the free market promotes self-worth, self-sufficiency, shared values, and honest dealings, which enhance the individual, the family, and the community. It discriminates against no race, religion, or gender. The truck driver does not know the skin color of the individuals who produce the diesel fuel for his vehicle; the cook does not know the religion of the dairy farmers who supply milk to his restaurant; and the airline passenger does not know the gender of the factory workers who manufacture the commercial aircraft that transports him—nor do they care.

Free societies arise from, and are sustained by, free markets.