Adam Smith is considered to be the father of Laissez-faire. In this excerpt of his famous work "The Wealth of Nations", Smith points out that all men are made equal. He states that everyone starts out to be the same, from a philosopher to a "street commoner". However, their natural talents start to show, as different walks of life showcase their respective talent. He shows that because everyone is specialised in one talent, everyone should be able to trade their talent or their living for the "produce of other men's talents he has occasion for." He continues by outlining "The Invisible Hand", which states that every individual in the society only acts for their own benefit, and that propagates "The Invisible Hand" as the unseen driver of the economy. It is not detrimental nor beneficial and is just the natural flow of the economy since the hands of the economy should not be controlled by a single man or authority but by the collective needs and wants of the economy. His last point lambasts the need for unreasonable restraints such as tariffs and monopoly in the economy. In his point, he states that the evils of such restraints stem from the innate immorality of human beings, where the remedy of such problem is hard to come by. And such the spirit of the monopoly in an economic sector, where the manufacturer's interest goes directly against the ones of the people. Smith states that for freemen in a (guild), it is in their interest to employ the same people as themselves, "so it is the interest of the merchants and manufacturers of every country to secure to themselves the monopoly of the home market." In that, he explains the duties and tariffs imposed on foreign goods during his time (1776), and that it harms no one but "the great body of people". He ends by saying that competition is often advantageous for the population and that these tariffs should be lifted and abolished for the sake of the people.
"According to results of the latest survey undertaken by the Levada Center, 63 per cent of Russians will be voting for the current President Vladimir Putin in the upcoming presidential elections in 2018." Zhukov is once against highly critical of the repressing regime of Russia. He starts off his article by pointing out the current situation in Russia, where more Russian youth is speaking out against the injustice of the current Russian society, as illustrated in the mass protests for the alleged corruption of Prime Minister Dmitriy Medvedev. However, his first point for free-market economics comes in later in the article. He argues that there is often a tie between big government and tyranny. For example, under Putin's 18-year reign, Russia has seen an enormous increase in government participation in the economy. Other candidates, however, supports the idea of basic interventionist policies such as "minimum wage, government-provided pensions and medical coverage." Opposition parties often have a more modern look on the economy, while the Russian government seems to be going back to the communist days of USSR. In his second point, he outlines the reason why Putin's economic policies are so well supported amongst the population. Zhukov ties in the current situation with the late-USSR "Glastnost" days, where the economy is opened suddenly into the rest of the world, and the people of Russia has suffered the economic failure as the consequence of liberating the economy so fast and unexpectedly. He states that in a situation such as Russia's, political liberties would only come with economic freedom. That is because employees "are free to choose their occupation and consumption based on their personal principles and beliefs, while the contrary holds for societies with the only one employer – government." He sarcastically relates to the old USSR days by saying that under big government employees that are undesirable in quality is often sent to remote spots to work. In his last point, he further expands his idea of political liberties being suppressed due to limited economic freedoms. Weak legal structure to protect property rights and huge government participation in the economy (Russia's 35.8 per cent of output comes from the government) contributes to the lack of personal freedoms and rights in Russia. He relates his work to the theories of Ludwig von Mises's, an Austrian School Economist, by stating that "large presence of government in the economic activity of the nation hinders the development of political liberties. The problem is particularly acute for freedom of speech, where only a few independent media outlets exist and where the government pressures social networks and the media to comply with their arbitrary regulations." He ends by reiterating hope for Russia as the younger generation starts to awake from their dormant political insensitiveness.
"People tend to take care of the things they own and neglect the things they don’t." This short opinion piece on New York Times promotes the belief of free market environmentalism. In his piece, he starts with a story of Vinod Khosla, a co-founder of a programming company. He owns a property in which lies the only road to a public beach. His popularity instantly fell through the roof, despite the court upholding the legitimacy of his closure of the road. Watson, the author, continues his point by pointing out that by "trampling the property rights of beachfront landowners in the name of public access is no way to encourage beach conservation." He points out that people tend to take care of properties that they own and neglect the things they borrow or does not have. Secondly, he points out that by having free access to beaches, the ultimate goal of this policy is to have the maximum number of people rushing to the beaches. Watson singles out the hypocrisy of the locals, due to the fact that a policy is already in place to prevent the non-locals from using the beach. The underlying tone of this piece is easy to see: Khosla did the same thing as the locals did, only he was richer and he could buy off the road to the beach. His last argument finishes his opinion piece by saying eliminating the subsidies for coastal flood insurance, it would be ensured that no overcrowding and dangerous development along the disaster-prone areas. Sarcastically, he ends his piece by suggesting that Khosla bought the property because he had might have had environmental conservatism on his mind.
"During 2007 and 2008, giant financial institutions were obliterated, the net worth of most Americans collapsed, and most of the world’s economies were brought to their knees." This excerpt from the book "The Gardens of Democracy by Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer again argues about the flaws of free-market economics. Using the financial crisis in 2008 as an example, they relate income and wealth disparity to the crisis. They argue that the market should be a complex garden that requires care, instead of a perfectly efficient machine that does not require any adjustment over time. They state that traditional economists are based on the fact that individuals are efficient and rational, where complex economists argue for the opposite: That individuals are often inefficient and irrational in their decisions. Another point that they raised was the fact that the economy is always based on human expectations. "Feedback loops", or "reflexivity" as George Soros call it, affects the market more than the government and traditional economist think it does. They state that the financial crisis in 2008 happened because of the underestimation by the government. While traditional economists argue that after a recession or an expansion the economy will always return to "equilibrium", complex economists argue that the economy is always in a cycle of growing and shrinking and that without proper balance and checks, the economy will inflate or deflate out of hand. The miscalculation on the government's part in the aforementioned financial crisis is magnified in this one example that Liu and Hanauer has cited: "The standard model used by many central banks and treasuries called a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model, did not include banks. Why? Because in a perfectly efficient market, banks are mere pass-throughs, invisibly shuffling money around." In the same model, there is also not millions, not thousands, but only one consumer. In their third main point, the notion that banks and individuals are perfectly rational and make the best decisions for themselves is furthered ridiculed by the duo, as they point out a fundamental flaw: The market does not make decisions on their own. They are created to serve what their creators want. For example, in China, the government has created this artificial market for environmentally friendly technology by incentives and punishments, which seems to function perfectly and integrate with the rest of the market. This illustrates the point that although the market automatically assumes the demand of the masses, demand can also be artificially generated by authorities, in which as mentioned before, the "feedback loop" will do its job, and thus the market can be controlled and be put on the right track with suitable policies. The government is often reminded not to pick winners in the "game", i.e. the direction of the economy. However, the duo argues that the government should be able to pick the "game" for individual and firms to compete in order for the society to progress both economically, environmentally, and socially.
Dr Robert Biel teaches political ecology at University College London and is the author of The New Imperialism and The Entropy of Capitalism. He specialises in international political economy, systems theory, sustainable development and urban agriculture. In this article, he raises multiple points for the faults of laissez-faire economics, which includes having an ever growing and shrinking global elite, where wealth entitles more wealth. He also argues that laissez-faire economics is based on a gentlemen's agreement, where property rights are assumed, and that the let-do economics often forget that the understanding of modern economics stems from the notion that entities and individuals only care for the benefits of themselves. Last but not least, he argues from an environmental and biophysical standpoint, in which that the laissez-faire system encourages wasteful creation, where "high-quality materials are turned into obsolescent products and eventually waste – is falsely rewarded as an increase in quality." ; Whereas in the natural world, entropy, a term to describe the unavailability of energy for a system to convert potential energy into mechanical energy, is recycled through the system. He concludes by saying that the commons, or the middle and working class, should be given more economic power instead of the erosion that is happening in the economically and morally "stale and bankrupt neoliberalism" in the 21st century.