Laissez Faire: A Conservative Approach to the Industrial Revolution

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Laissez faire (from the French, meaning to leave alone or to allow to do) is an economic and political doctrine that holds that economies function most efficiently when unencumbered by government regulation. Laissez faire advocates favor individual self-interest and competition, and oppose the taxation and regulation of commerce.

This position was put forth by the following:

Laissez faire economic principles were not always enthusiastically accepted in the United States:

The philosophy of governmental noninvolvement in business is not always applied symmetrically, as Franklin D. Roosevelt pointed out in his speech to the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco in 1932:

The same man who tells you that he does not want to see the government interfere in business-and he means it, and has plenty of good reasons for saying so-is the first to go to Washington and ask the government for a prohibitory tariff on his product. When things get just bad enough-as they did two years ago-he will go with equal speed to the United States government and ask for a loan; and the Reconstruction Finance Corporation is the outcome of it. Each group has sought protection from the government for its own special interest, without realizing that the function of government must be to favor no small group at the expense of its duty to protect the rights of personal freedom and of private property of all its citizens.

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