There the market is freest, human liberty is highest. If labor is controlled (e.g., slavery), there is neither a free market nor freedom. If capital is controlled (e.g., government ownership), you can’t produce without permission; that’s not freedom. The free-market economy and human freedom are mutually dependent; destroy one, and the other automatically falls….
Governments control people (you and me) and nothing else. Governments tell the seller of a loaf of bread (or the owner of a rental apartment) what price to charge. Thus, it’s obviously the owner who’s controlled; the price itself couldn’t care less.
Sometimes the specific price the owner must charge is the minimum. Sometimes it’s the maximum. Sometimes the same price is both minimum and maximum. Whichever, it’s never the price that would be determined by peaceful people freely exchanging their goods and services in the market place. And always the control is on the person who owns the product or service. The process is one of “people control,” and (as Bastiat said) the inevitable result is loss of freedom, independence, and personal dignity — as well as the production of fewer goods and services….
My thesis is that the free market economy is the key to all freedoms. In fact, the market and freedom are really synonymous terms….
Just as the government can’t control prices (but only people), just so is it absurd to imagine that the government can support prices. Without exception, the only thing that any government can ever do is (in one way or another) control people, i.e., to prevent us from doing what we want to do, or to compel us to do what we don’t want to do. Thus, it follows that the government’s price-support program for agriculture necessarily deprives farmers of their freedom. And it most surely does just that….
[The] only thing any government can ever do, even in its proper function of preserving the peace, is to control people — to compel us to do what we don’t want to do, or to prevent us from doing what we want to do. That procedure is, of course, the proper way to stop murderers and thieves and rapists; for clearly, the police powers of government should be used to prevent those anti-social people from imposing their desires upon others by violence. But when the same powers are used against peaceful persons in their peaceful activities, freedom is always and undeniably infringed.
For example, every American has lost his freedom to save or to spend his earnings as he pleases. Our government compels all of us to “save” (actually, it’s a tax) a portion of our wages and salaries — that is, the government taxes away a portion and promises to give it back (sometimes more, sometimes less) at some later date. This compulsory scheme is called Social Security, and it is generally cited as the essence of true freedom for the people. Perhaps as many as 75 per cent of the American people are now in favor of this loss of personal choice (freedom) and would categorically oppose any suggestion to return to a situation in which each person is responsible for his own welfare in a market economy.
And so it goes — through hundreds and thousands of government prohibitions and compulsions in the peaceful economic affairs of men and women. Without exception, every one of them is a direct loss of freedom of choice and responsibility.
Again … the only control that any government can exercise is people control. Any attempt to control things must necessarily involve the control of people, and that is undeniably a loss of freedom….
[Our] essentially free economy must drift into an essentially controlled economy, if the present trend continues. That will be the end of human freedom in the United States, and probably in the world. All other freedoms — press, speech, franchise, religion — must necessarily disappear with the loss of the free economy. For the fact remains: In a totally controlled economy, it is not the economy but the people who are totally controlled.