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The Market System From a Conservative and Liberal Viewpoint

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The most critical public values are freedom, equality and democracy. The liberal view makes the better case, for a more nuanced idea of the market system working best as a “mixed system”.

The conservative “free market” view is that economic freedom is paramount. The individual is best when judging what is in their best interests. Any transfer of their power over themselves to an entity such as government that is viewed as subjugation, “Political freedom means the absence of coercion of a man by his fellow men” (Friedman, 2002, p.15). Government has no business involving itself in economic activity, and when doing so, it causes more harm than good. The conservatives' case may sound good in theory, but I think, in practice that it causes many problems that it is unable to solve. The liberal view, which I agree with would correspond more to societal responsibility or common good; conservatives would say that what is common to you is not what is common to me. Therefore, the only way to have good is for each individual to maximize their own good by doing what they think is right.

The conservatives view the government with mistrust, preferring the private industry over government. Government is accountable to the electorate, whereas private industry corporations are only responsible to the shareholders. The conservative view has a built-in problem of what to do about externalities/spill over effects. In the very nature of their argument they want government to take a laissez-faire approach, allowing for negative side effects to be imposed on people. The most obvious of these externalities is air and water pollution (Lindblom, 2001, p.148). Conservatives would oppose government regulation over industry believing that ...

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...effects, in fact corporation have a desire to lack transparency. They are artificial constructs designed to maximize profit and should be treated as such. Allowing for limits to be placed on their rights and powers.

The conservative argument always comes back to the individual. Which may be well served by that philosophy if he or she is a wealthy elite. The liberal view accepts the benefits and draw backs of a market system and seeks to balance the powers of the few with the needs of many for the benefit of all.

Works Cited

Friedman, M., & Friedman, R. D. (2002). Capitalism and freedom. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Lindblom, C.E. (2001). The market system: What it is, how it works, and what to make of it. Yale University Press.

Schmidt, R. (2011). “Friedman: Neighborhood Effects” Cal State Long Beach, Lecture. Long Beach, CA. 15 Feb. 2011.