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Economic freedom

Our having a free market and limited government more than anything else explains our wealth, writes Walter E. Williams.

Economic Freedom

By Walter E. Williams

A couple of years ago, President Barack Obama, speaking on the economy, told an audience in Osawatomie, Kansas: “’The market will take care of everything,’ they tell us. … But here’s the problem: It doesn’t work. It has never worked. … I mean, understand, it’s not as if we haven’t tried this theory.” To believe what the president and many others say about the market’s not working requires that one be grossly uninformed or dishonest.

The key features of a free market system are private property rights and private ownership of the means of production. In addition, there’s a large measure of peaceable voluntary exchange. By contrast, communist systems feature severely limited private property rights and government ownership or control of the means of production. There has never been a purely free market economic system, just as there has never been a purely communist system. However, we can rank economies and see whether ones that are closer to the free market end of the economic spectrum are better or worse than ones that are closer to the communist end. Let’s try it.

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