What is the status quo for the correct set of economic policies? What is the typical response of the ordinary person if they are asked about the minimum wage, import tariffs, subsidies, competition law etc.? For those of you who frequently discuss these issues the answer is of no surprise; it is interventionism. Most people are of the opinion that if we do not have government intervention then the rich/capitalists will exploit the poor/employees, businesses will act predatorily and unethically and all sorts of other problems and shortcomings will occur which could easily be solved by some sort of government intervention.
Why is interventionism the status quo? Human history exists because humans intervene and take control of nature to make their lives better. It is intuitive for human beings, therefore, to act and take control of the economy in order to make it better. However after the fall of communism, due to its complete and utter failure, we know that we cannot take total control of the economy and make it ideal. Having said this, leaving the economy totally to market forces is still extremely counter-intuitive. So most people today are of the opinion that market forces work to some extent but we must intervene where it is supposedly necessary and where markets supposedly fail. Because of this idea even the freest economies in the world today are mixed economies. However, we have had the mixed economy for a relatively long time now and it has not solved our problems and recently serious problems have emerged which have not yet been solved and are in fact likely to get worse. Interventionists keep changing their budgets and regulations but the problems persist and continue to get worse.
What has been the effect of the recent economic crises and problems on the status quo? The counter-intuitive nature of free-market policies has meant that most people are still reluctant to embrace those types of policies. As a result, they are only left with two options: they either delve into a critique-only analysis of the current economic system (inequality, inflation etc.) and blame it on capitalism since it is conventional wisdom- obviously and incorrect one- that the current system is capitalist or they argue for an alternative approach of intervention.
This current political atmosphere is perfect for those who espouse a capitalist economy. As time goes by it will become more and more certain that, just like communism, intervention will not work. Since the central planning alternative is out of the picture, the only group that can come up with real policy alternatives in the face consistent failure of the mixed economic system is the capitalist alternative.
Therefore, there are three main strategies if a capitalist advocate wants to capitalise on the current political climate and push for economic freedom. The first two are already known and implemented but the third is seldom applied and without it the first two are futile.
1. Educate people to understand why non-interventionism works despite it being counter-intuitive
2. Propose policies that will fix current socio-economic problems (not forgetting the first strategy of educating as to why these policies would actually work).
3. Give those who are educated about how capitalism works a way to mandate it.
The first two strategies have both been taken by the various pro free-market organization so why the relative ineffectiveness? The problem is that the free-market policies are not put on the table in any meaningful way. This also renders the first two strategies to be futile as most people are not interested in just learning when they cannot actually make any changes or be heard and most politicians are anti-free-market because they are unpopular and limit politicians’ power. To make this point clearer, ask yourself who do you know who has proposed free-market policies in a real way where the general public could actually learn and vote for their proposals? The only person who will come to most of our minds is Ron Paul; I cannot think of any in Britain. In addition, to those mentioned above, another big advantage of offering a vote for capitalism is that it will be in the side lines constantly criticising the mixed economy system and slowly grow as interventionism fails until the time arises for it to take over.