The uncoerced, consensual exchanges of goods and services between individuals, antithesis of the State

Articles

A Real Free Market Benefits Workers, by Sheldon Richman, Future of Freedom, Nov 2006
Discusses arguments from both progressives and their antagonists as to whether workers are losing ground, in terms of inflation-adjusted incomes, and argues that the blame is not on the so-called free market
"Considering that for a couple hundred years local, state, and federal governments in America have intervened in the economy largely in behalf of business interests, we may reply that whatever we call it, it is not a free market. If the outcome in recent years has been unfair (however that may be defined), then the blame is on government intervention. ... The corporate state, by design, inhibits competition and makes average workers worse off than they'd otherwise be. "
Do Greedy Spinach Merchants Want To Kill You?, by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., Mises Daily, 6 Oct 2006
"This is one of the benefits of the information age, when word gets out to hundreds of millions in a matter of minutes. The response was a marvel of how markets can work. A valuable product said to bring health suddenly becomes a source of sickness and within hours, people not only stop eating it; it isn't even available for purchase!"
Don't Do It, Google, by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., 2 May 2006
"But what if Microsoft still dominates the market with inferior technology? Here we must speak to a common myth about free markets. It is not the case that the best technology always wins. All we can say about free markets is that there is a tendency for the most economically suitable products to dominate the market over the long term."
Related Topics: Government, Property Rights
Freedom in Transactions, by Claude Frédéric Bastiat, 1848
Contrasts how freedom of exchange causes vast numbers of provisions to arrive in Paris on a daily basis with what would happen if government were to direct these transactions
"... eighty departments have been labouring today, without concert, without any mutual understanding, for the provisioning of Paris. How does each succeeding day bring what is wanted, nothing more, nothing less, to so gigantic a market? What, then, is the ingenious and secret power which governs the astonishing regularity of movements so complicated ... That power is an absolute principle, the principle of freedom in transactions."
Related Topic: Government
Free Market Thinking: Not Applicable, by Per Bylund, 12 Jun 2006
Discusses how many libertarians associate themselves with right wing, conservative political positions overlooking one important fact
"I've heard many libertarians agree with conservatives and other right wing politicians on economic issues – joining forces against the 'left.' I too argue low wages and poor working conditions are not necessarily problematic – in the free market. The wording is the same, but the argument is quite different. Those small words, in the free market, are most important because without them, the argument fails and is utterly false."
Full Context, by Sheldon Richman, The Freeman, Apr 2006
Explains why it is essential to be aware that the existing corporatist economy does not equate to the free market
"What today is called rent-seeking, exploiting others through political means, was as common in earlier times as it is now. It was a rare business proprietor who favored laissez faire. ... Most business people were uninterested in moral philosophy, economic theory, and ideology. ... No knowledgeable champion of free markets will be surprised by any of this."
Related Topic: Adam Smith
Monopolies versus the Free Market, Part 1, by Gregory Bresiger, Future of Freedom, Sep 2006
"Access to the company's products at below-market prices are a boon for consumers, many of whom presumably would be unable to buy the products without the company's aggressive pricing strategies. Moreover, how can the regulators know whether cost cutting, expanding market share, or even attempting to 'corner the market' is the actual goal of the company?"
Mr. Bush, Mind Your Own Business, by Sheldon Richman, 21 Oct 2005
Criticizes George W. Bush's advice to Americans that they should drive less in order to conserve gasoline
"The principal difference between the genuine marketeer and the phony is that the genuine marketeer ... understands that nothing compares to unfettered markets at (1) respecting freedom and (2) placing the division of labor and knowledge at the service of everyone in society. Part of this process involves the price system's dual constructive role of summoning greater supplies by offering entrepreneurs new chances for profit and encouraging consumers to economize."
Related Topic: George W. Bush
On Evil Acts, by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., Mises Daily, 19 Apr 2007
"There is only one system of social organization that strives daily for a more perfect way of identifying the problem of evil, assessing its likelihood, and curbing it as much as humanly possible, and that is the competitive market economy rooted in the private ownership and control of property."
Pundit in Wonderland, by Sheldon Richman, 28 Sep 2007
Critiques a Washington Post op-ed about the supposed increase in the "have-nots" in American society
"We can expect the widest diffusion of wealth in a truly free market because government wouldn't be discouraging production or granting privileges to the well-connected. Working people, who often feel they are without economic power, would have maximum bargaining clout if government kept hands off. Clout comes from having alternatives, and government intervention reduces alternatives, including self-employment options."
Synchronized Boom, Synchronized Bust: Bad U.S. monetary policy had global consequences, by Marc Faber, The Wall Street Journal, 18 Feb 2009
Examines how the latest boom/bust cycle came into being and allegations that it was a "free market" failure
"It is not that the free market failed. The mistake was constant interventions in the free market by the Fed and the U.S. Treasury that addressed symptoms and postponed problems instead of solving them. ... The best policy response would be to do nothing and let the free market correct the excesses brought about by unforgivable policy errors."
Related Topic: Federal Reserve System
Thank You ... for a Free Market, by Jacob G. Hornberger, 30 Jun 2006
"Have you ever noticed how often both sides to an economic transaction say, 'Thank you' to each other? ... Why is this so? ... The reason has to do with what is called the subjective theory of value ... based on the following principle: In every economic exchange, each side gains because each side gives up something he values less for something he values more."
The Free Market Is the High Road, by Bart Frazier, 2 Aug 2004
"Though the financial benefits of ending regulation are enormous, they are not the most important reason for freeing the economy. A free market is superior to a regulated one because individual liberty is the only moral foundation on which to base a society."
The Market Is a Beautiful Thing, by Sheldon Richman, The Howard Stern Radio Network, Jul 2013
Explores whether most people's aversion to the market is aesthetic and explains the beauty in the dynamics of the (freed) market
"The freed market is a political-legal setting in which people are at liberty to peacefully pursue their chosen plans. This activity generates, unintentionally, an undesigned order that facilitates cooperation and coordination among even distant strangers, making each person's pursuit more effective and efficient than otherwise."
The Pope Dabbles in Economics, by Sheldon Richman, 20 Dec 2013
Examines the economic premises of Pope Francis' 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium
"The pope's concern with the poor and excluded is well-placed. We should not tolerate their condition or its causes. But what the poor and excluded need are freedom and freed markets — really free markets, not 'the prevailing economic system' — so they may be liberated from the oppression that holds them back."
The Ron Paul Revolution: A Lesson in Free Market Economics, by Jason Rink, 19 Sep 2007
Discusses how the grassroots Ron Paul supporters demonstrate how an unfettered market works
"The Ron Paul Revolution may end up being one of the great contemporary examples of the free market in action. It promotes personal sovereignty, and keeps power concentrated at the local level. It rewards creativity and excellence, and creates stability and diversity in the marketplace."
Toying with the Free Market, by Sheldon Richman, Future of Freedom, Dec 1998
Discusses the 1998 Toys "R" Us restructuring announcement and earlier disclosure that it had engaged in monopolistic practices
"But if 'abusive practices' means practices that harm consumers, we can see that consumers are perfectly able to take care of themselves. When they (or their kids) decided that Toys 'R' Us did not keep pace with the new toy technology or that the stores were unpleasant, they went to Wal-Mart or Target instead. They didn't need anyone's prompting or permission. They didn't need to petition a government agency. They just found a store they liked better. That sounds like real power to me."
What Is the Free Market?, by Murray N. Rothbard, The Fortune Encyclopedia of Economics, 1993
Encyclopedic definition of the free market and some related terms, e.g., exchange, prices, demand, using lay examples
"The Free market is a summary term for an array of exchanges that take place in society. Each exchange is undertaken as a voluntary agreement between two people or between groups of people represented by agents. These two individuals (or agents) exchange two economic goods, either tangible commodities or nontangible services. ... Both parties undertake the exchange because each expects to gain from it."
Related Topic: Socialism
Why Markets Are Dreaded, by Tibor R. Machan, 27 Apr 2007
Insights on why higher education professionals contend they should not have to compete in the free market and instead governments should run colleges and universities
"Markets are arenas wherein people exchange goods and services with one another, once they have freely reached agreement on terms. The market is, in other words, a place of voluntary commercial and professional interaction. ... Markets are free forums of trade and those in markets are free agents dealing on terms they can agree to."
An Unstimulating Idea, by Sheldon Richman, 25 Jan 2008
Examines the economic "stimulus" proposals being made by candidates and incumbent politicians
"Those who are biased against freedom will proclaim that our economic problems show that the free market has failed. What free market? Do they mean the 'free' market which for ages and in myriad ways the government has straitjacketed and skewed on behalf of favored interests? We are in our present position because government has burdened us with taxes, spending, debt, regulations, subsidies, guarantees (to lenders, for example), trade restrictions, fiat money, and other impositions."
Related Topics: Government, No Free Lunch
Begrudging Another Battle of Ballot-Boxing, by Kenneth R. Gregg, 23 Nov 2006
Explains how those seeking power through politics are led to compromise, even if they are members of a group espousing principles over expediency, and urges others not to ballot-box but instead vote in the marketplace and the social realm
"In the marketplace, your choices and decisions are unanimously made. You and another party agree on a purchase price and sales price. You make the trade. That's it. ... Our social realm succeeds because we vote constantly in the marketplace for the goods and services which we need and desire. There is no plunder in our profit, only the produce of willing hands and hearts which we purchase and sell with the coin of the realm."
Crushed by the Fed, by Glenn Jacobs, Future of Freedom, Jan 2008
Discusses the role of the Federal Reserve in supposedly "controlling inflation and running the economy"
"A free-market economy is based on mutually beneficial, voluntary exchanges. Since no one is forced to participate, all of the parties involved in an exchange expect that their exchange will benefit them in some way. On a large scale, the free market consists of millions of individuals making decisions about how to better their lives. In a free-market economy, the participants run the economy."
Related Topic: Inflation
Free-Market Socialism, by Sheldon Richman, 14 Nov 2014
Counters the caricature of libertarians as hyperindividualists and explains the benefits that could be gained from truly freed markets
"When the marketplace is really free and competitive (rather than constricted by the state to protect privileged interests), it is we collectively who decide who controls the means of production. We don't do this in the legal sense, for example, by literally expropriating the assets of some people and transferring them to others. Yet that's the effect of free competition and individual liberty."
Related Topic: Libertarianism
Free Trade With All Nations, by Richard Cobden, 15 Jan 1846
Speech to the National Anti-Corn-Law League, discussing their work over the past seven years and predicting immediate repeal of the Corn Laws in the upcoming session of Parliament
"... let the Corn Law be abolished instantly; let foreigners see what the English market is in its natural state, and then they will be able to judge from year to year and from season to season what will be the future demand from this country for foreign corn. There will be no extravagant estimate of what we want - no contingency of bad harvests to speculate upon. The supply will be regulated by the demand, and will reach that state which will be the best security against both gluts and famine. Therefore, for the farmer's sake, I plead for the immediate abolition of this law."
Related Topic: Free Trade
In Defense of a Free Market in Health Care, by Robert D. Helmholdt, 16 Apr 2004
Related Topic: Health Care
Inequality of Wealth and Incomes, by Ludwig von Mises, The Freeman, May 1955
Describes how attempts to equalize incomes and wealth lead to lowered standard of living for the masses and eventually to socialism
"Profit and loss tell the entrepreneur what the consumers are asking for most urgently. And only the profits the entrepreneur pockets enable him to adjust his activities to the demand of the consumers. If the profits are expropriated, he is prevented from complying with the directives given by the consumers. Then the market economy is deprived of its steering wheel. It becomes a senseless jumble."
Related Topics: Socialism, Capital Goods, Taxation
On Equality and Inequality, by Ludwig von Mises, Modern Age, 1961
Examines the premise that "all men are created equal" and some possible as well as purported conclusions
"In the market, economic power is vested in the consumers. They ultimately determine, by their buying or abstention from buying, what should be produced, by whom and how, of what quality and in what quantity. The entrepreneurs, capitalists, and landowners who fail to satisfy in the best possible and cheapest way the most urgent of the not-yet-satisfied wishes of the consumers are forced to go out of business and forfeit their preferred position."
Socialism and Medicine, Part 2, by William L. Anderson, Future of Freedom, Jun 2008
Examines the economics of medical care in the United States, including the influence of third-party payers and comparisons to medical care in Canada
"This is the world of insurer-led medical care that Moore calls 'free-market.' It clearly is not. American medical care is heavily regulated on all fronts, and is dominated by third-party payers who are under pressure to keep from giving away the store. (That includes government payers and providers of medical care, which also face real cost constraints and often are stingier than private insurers.)"
Socialism and Medicine, Part 3, by William L. Anderson, Future of Freedom, Jul 2008
Further examination of medical care in the United States, analyzing the calls for "mandates" for universal health care
"There is one thing to remember that is very, very important when speaking of free markets: they are entities that are free of coercion. We often fail to remember that free markets are called such precisely because they involve voluntary and consensual behavior on behalf of the individuals involved in those exchanges."
Related Topic: Health Care
UpdThe Abstract Concept of Human Liberty, by Robert LeFevre, The Freeman, Dec 1982
Discusses how people may be interested in other people, events or things but only a few are interested in ideas, and how each group of people tends to view liberty from those perspectives
"Those thinking at [the level of things] usually forget that a free market has its merit because the customer is king. And, as customers rule, it is customer choice that finally determines who will profit and who will lose. A free market is a profit and loss system, with only the customers making the final decision. ... Here are often found those businessmen who speak from both sides of their mouths. They favor a free market until they face effective competition."
The Great Thanksgiving Hoax, by Richard J. Maybury, The Free Market, Nov 1985
Related Topic: Thanksgiving
What Is the Enemy?, by Sheldon Richman, Future of Freedom, Apr 2006
Discusses why corporatism, mercantilism and Big Business are the chief opposition to libertarianism and truly free markets
"Consumers are fickle and unpredictable. They might have bought from Kmart yesterday, but that's no guarantee they will do so today, and they need not give notice of their intention to shop elsewhere. In a truly free market new products and services are always appearing, making dominant products passé. This is also true for the production of capital goods and for services. Thus under laissez faire, without government-bestowed privilege, market share is never guaranteed."
Related Topic: Socialism
Who Owns the Internet?, by Tim Swanson, Mises Daily, 4 May 2006
"Many users mistakenly believe that the current radio spectrum and telecom regime is the product of the free-market. It is not. The FCC did not create the radio spectrum nor does it have some homesteading claim to the near-infinitesimal ranges found within it. It is, simply, a bureaucratic sophistry, which oddly enough believes it can distribute something it does not own."
Why Do Intellectuals Oppose Capitalism?, by Robert Nozick, Cato Online Policy Report, Jan 1998
Posits that "wordsmith" (as opposed to "numbersmith") intellectuals often resent capitalism because the market society does not reward them as their schooling did
"Apart from the gifts, inheritances, and gambling winnings that occur in a free society, the market distributes to those who satisfy the perceived market-expressed demands of others, and how much it so distributes depends on how much is demanded and how great the alternative supply is. ... [In the] wider market society, ... the greatest rewards did not go to the verbally brightest. There the intellectual skills were not most highly valued."
Related Topics: Capitalism, Society
Winning the Battle for Freedom and Prosperity, by John Mackey, Liberty, Jun 2006
Updated from speech given at FreedomFest 2004
"... we must advocate the ideal of free markets and competition in health care. The monopoly that medical doctors largely have in medical treatment must be broken. They should have to compete fully with other practitioners, such as chiropractors, acupuncturists, naturopaths — and yes, my skeptical friend, John Stossel, even homeopaths."

Cartoons and Comic Strips

It Was Either Him or Me, by Glenn McCoy, 1 Feb 2009

Books

Free Markets Under Siege: Cartels, Politics and Social Welfare
    by Richard A. Epstein, 2003
Markets Not Capitalism: Individualist Anarchism Against Bosses, Inequality, Corporate Power, and Structural Poverty
    by Gary Chartier (editor), Charles W. Johnson (editor), 5 Nov 2011
The Adventures of Jonathan Gullible: A Free Market Odyssey
    by Ken Schoolland, 1988
The Free Market and Its Enemies: Pseudo-Science, Socialism, and Inflation
    by Ludwig von Mises, Richard M. Ebeling (Introduction), Foundation for Economic Education, 2004
Based on lectures delivered in 1951; partial contents: Economics and Its Opponents - Pseudo-science and Historical Understanding - Acting Man and Economics - Marxism, Socialism, and Pseudo-science - Capitalism and Human Progress - Money and Inflation

Videos


The Power of the Market, by Milton Friedman, 1980
Volume 1 of the PBS "Free to Choose" series. "Friedman explains how markets and voluntary exchange organize activity and enable people to improve their lives. He also explains the price system. Friedman visits Hong Kong, U.S. and Scotland."