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BUSINESS AND LAISSEZ FAIRE

Among those who have their hands on the levers of power, only a distinct minority sincerely believes in the glib slogans of freewheeling capitalism. Indeed, rant and rail as they might about the abuses of government, more knowledgeable political and business leaders rarely believe their own rhetoric. Their obligatory lip service to the magic of the marketplace is nothing more than a hypocritical attempt to further their own interests.
Certainly, business should have a deep appreciation for the wide range of services that the government performs for them. Not only does the government provide a substantial market for the goods that private business sells, the government also goes to great lengths in an effort to create a "healthy business climate."
The government organizes and regulates financial conditions through central banks, as well as through protective legislation. It creates a legal structure that gives business the upper hand relative to labor. When the economy falters, it increases demand, often by discovering imaginary threats that require more military spending.
In this regard, we will see in later chapters that government and business alike have conspired to thwart market forces for the most part of the history of the United States. Some might mistakenly regard these actions as nothing more than an evil cabal. Of course, self-interest was an important motivator, but those who were most attuned to the economic conditions also realized that the failure of the government to intervene could unleash the destructive potential of market forces.
In short, deep-down most political and business leaders are keenly aware that market forces, without any outside guidance, can and often will produce catastrophic results. As a result, they are unwilling to trust the fate of society, or even business itself, to market processes alone.
In this sense, pure capitalism differs from the unicorn. Although unicorns are merely imaginary creatures, no logical reasons preclude their existence. In contrast, as I will show in this book, pure capitalism suffers from such severe internal contradictions that it could never survive on its own - at least in a world with long-lived capital goods.

(Michael Perelman, The End of Economics, Routledge, New York, 1996, p.5)

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