In a genuinely free society, people have the right to engage in any occupation, profession, or vocation without having to seek a permit, license, or other government permission. The idea is that economic liberty is a fundamental, God-given right, one that government is prohibited from controlling or interfering with. As the Declaration of Independence points out, it is the purpose of government to protect, not infringe, the exercise of fundamental rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Economic liberty, however, does not guarantee that people who chose a certain occupation are going to be successful. That’s because in a genuinely free society, it is the consumer, not the state, who decides who is going to be successful and who isn’t. If a supplier of goods or services satisfies consumers by providing products that they like and are willing to pay for, that supplier will stay in business and prosper. If a supplier fails to satisfy consumers, he will lose sales and possibly even go out of business.
Consumers, generally speaking, are fickle and ruthless. Even though they have done business with a particular company for many years, if someone else comes along offering a better product at a lower price, most of therm won’t hesitate to shift their buying to the new seller.
Thus, in a genuine free market, the pressure on businesses is constant and relentless: Keep satisfying consumers by providing them with goods and services they want and are willing to pay for, or go out of business.
Some people argue that government should forcibly confiscate and redistribute wealth. In a genuinely free market economy, consumer sovereignty does that, and it’s all voluntary. A company can have 90 percent of the market, only to lose it quickly by failing to satisfy consumers. That is reflected by the fact that most of the top 10 Fortune 500 companies in 1970 are no longer on that list.
Liberty entails removing state sovereignty over economic activities and replacing it with consumer sovereignty. In a free society, government’s role is limited to protecting people from those who initiate force or fraud against others.