Return to Laissez Faire

Posted: April 24, 2018 in Uncategorized

By R.C. Seely

THE NOTION THAT A LAISSEZ FAIRE SYSTEM wouldn’t work since previous attempts didn’t work is common consensus among capitalism critics. To be fair, the earliest attempts didn’t go as well as hoped and they do have a point, at least to a certain degree. In the US the two attempts were during the Industrial Revolution and the other in the “roaring” twenties.

The Industrial Revolution had its benevolence that is rarely acknowledged–such as Rockefeller’s saving the whales be eliminating the US dependency on whale oil to light our homes–and instead the history books look to be have been written by the labor unions who despise the industrialists because of their anti-union stances.

The struggle at the Homestead, Andrew Carnegie’s steel manufacturing plant, is considered one such opportunity to give one of the Industrialists a figurative black eye. it was labor anarchists that were in fact the ones wreaking havoc in the steel mill. Carnegie’s partner Henry Clay Frick, did play a large role in it, that’s true, but ultimately it was still labor that was responsible and drew first blood (literally) with the assassination attempt on Frick’s life. Another was when in 1884, the miners of New Straitsville, Ohio, started an underground fire–a blaze that was still burning in the 1930’s and didn’t calm until shortly before World War II. Noted by journalist Ernie Pyle, “you wouldn’t believe that hell is only a few feet underneath [the grounds of Ohio].” The estimated damage from the fires was around $50 million.

The other era of laissez faire was during prohibition. Yes, you read that right. Prohibition gave birth to one of the only eras of a “hands-off” economy is US history. It was the direct result of prohibition, in fact, the rise of the mafia. Even though they were publicly hounded by law enforcement, in reality organized crime was mostly left alone, at least prior to the St. Valentine’s Day massacre.

Point is, laissez faire in the US has only been a reactionary side effect to intrusive government and labor actions. What if it were tried because of because of government inactions?

Government advocates claim that a hands-off economy would lead to bedlam and that capitalists are too inhumane to give them such autonomy. Shabby treatment of their employees are expectations, since it did happen previously, but things have changed. During the previous eras of laissez faire, sentiments about human life were far different and inferiorities against minorities and migrants was common. Now it’s not. Now we have a strong ethics in business and society at large and see value in human life.

This is to say that such attitudes are entirely gone but are have eroded. Signs of this new valuation of human life is demonstrated after a shooting. Whether the actions are right or wrong, the impulse is clearly showing that human life is considered precious by many, even if that’s not the greater goal. The protests against what Hillary Clinton called “the new normal” shows that America still has its best days ahead, although applying logic to these outbursts wouldn’t hurt. Add logic to the respect for human life and we could just end up with that almost perfect society that the world eagerly covets.

R.C. Seely is the founder of americanuslibertae.com and ALTV. He has written books on pop culture and has an upcoming new release–Confused Yet?: Understanding the Utterly Incomprehensible.

 

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