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Laissez-faire

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Literally, laissez-faire is French for "let it be." More usefully, laissez-faire is a philosophy that favors government keeping its hands off the economy. In other words, supporters of laissez-faire believe only free market forces should determine prices, production, wages, and other key elements of the economy. At the opposing pole of laissez-faire economics are command economy systems where government controls all means of production. The effectiveness of laissez-faire policies continues to be argued vigorously. Nearly all economists agree that complete laissez-faire is impossible for today's U.S. economy. Moreover, voters' expectations of an important role for government in the economy has made laissez-faire politically unpalatable. But the laissez-faire philosophy, which continues to provide intellectual underpinning for advocates of limited government, remains a potent force in economic debate.



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