Laissez-faire

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Laissez-faire is an economic and political philosophy.[1] It is from a French phrase that means to "leave alone".[2] It means that government does not interfere with business and economy.[2] Finance and trade decisions are left for the private individual to make. It is the belief that unregulated competition in business represents the best path to progress. Supporters claim that a free and unregulated market creates a natural balance between supply and demand. The phrase came is supposed to have come from the 18th century.[3] In a meeting between the French finance minister Colbert and a businessman named Le Gendre, Colbert asked how the government could help commerce.[3] Le Gendre replied "Let us do what we want to do".[3]

History[change | change source]

In Ancient China, there were three schools of political thought. Taoism believed in almost no economic interference by the government.[4] Legalism included the belief that the state should have the maximum power.[4] They created the traditional Chinese bureaucratic empire. Confucianism was split between these two extremes although was closer to Legalism than Taoism.[4]

During the 19th century Laissez faire developed as a social and economic philosophy. It was believed that government involvement in business was harmful at worst and ineffective at best.[5] Socially, it was believed that government intervention to help the poor was harmful because it made them lazy and dependent on the government.[5] Economically there was debate at this time in Europe and the United States over whether free trade or tariffs promoted the most economic growth.[4] Up until the 1840s protectionism was favored over Laissez faire. In Britain the Corn Laws placed high tariffs on imported corn to protect British farmers and land owners.[4]

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. "laissez faire". Merriam-Webster. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/laissez%E2%80%93faire. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Laissez Faire Capitalism". Importance of Philosophy. http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/Politics_LaissezFaire.html. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Laissez Faire". Investopedia, LLC. http://www.investopedia.com/terms/l/laissezfaire.asp. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 "Why did The Economist favour free trade?". The Economist Newspaper Limited. 6 September 2013. http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2013/09/economic-history. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Michael Scaife, History: Modern British and European (London: Letts Educational, 2004), p. 32

Other websites[change | change source]