Government control in the field of economics is nothing new to humanity. Central planning, wage and price controls, taxes, stimulus spending, social safety nets, trade restrictions, regulations, crony favoritism – these have all long been assumed to be among the normal and accepted functions of government.
In 17th century France, recognizing that wealth had to be produced before it could be taxed, the king’s (Louis XIV) chief adviser Colbert was told “Laissez-nous faire” (let us alone) after asking the business community what the king could do to stimulate ‘economic growth’ in the nation. That phrase has come to symbolize and describe the nature of a free market.
Indeed, no matter what the form of government – whether an absolute monarchy or a free society based on individual rights – the creation of wealth is fundamental for any society to survive. In the attempt to create such wealth, various forms of forced labor and production have throughout history been the primary means by which the state-controlled economies approached that challenge.
For Western societies, all that changed with the discovery and emergence of capitalism over the past two centuries or so. Under the condition of ‘laissez faire,’ (capitalism), more people than ever before were able to lift themselves out of poverty, thanks to the unprecedented wealth that could be created in a market relatively free from government coercion and control.
This in turn led to the discovery of a number of fundamental principles – fundamental, that is, to the creation and maintenance of a free society. In the evolving culture of individualism founded on individual rights, freedom and capitalism reigned instead of kings and queens. Those conditions, and the unprecedented wealth and innovation spawned by them, became the distinguishing characteristics of Western culture.
Unfortunately, the political idea arose that the demonstrated benefit of capitalism – freedom – could be ‘mixed’ with the promised benefit of socialism – security – thus leading to the temporary condition called the ‘mixed’ economy. And as the advance of socialism inevitably becomes the predominant part of the ‘mix,’ rising taxes, government deficits and debts, and an increasing rate of poverty all grow hand-in-hand, and continue to do so at an alarming rate.
History’s lesson of ‘laissez-faire’ has yet to be learned or understood – that the political condition of Freedom and the economic condition of Capitalism cannot survive in a so-called ‘mixed economy.’ With the operative principle of capitalism being consent, and the operative principle of socialism being coercion, the two opposing moral principles simply cannot co-exist.
Mixing poison with milk is an unhealthy mix; the poison will win every time. As long as the so-called ‘mixed economy’ continues to add more and more of the poison of socialism to the mix, eventually the only thing Left will be the poison: socialism.
The creation of true wealth depends upon freedom and the economic condition of capitalism that naturally arises in its environment free of coercion. And that’s why freedom and capitalism are the only two ‘mixes’ that fit together Just Right.
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