Unregulated Capitalism Undermines the Legitimacy of Liberal Democracy

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Introduction In a capitalist system, businesses compete with one another to produce the most innovative merchandise at the most competitive prices; in turn, consumers freely select the most desirable products. According to Adam Smith, this competition, when left unregulated, fosters maximum wealth and the common good (Economist 2-3). Indeed, unmanaged competition may ensure prices are affordable for consumers (2). However, in a global free market that exploits cheap labour; market demand dwindles, resulting in excessive credit lending and debt crises (Li 295-6). In this way, capitalism’s efficiency and promotion of the common good is questionable. Since the resurgence of unregulated capitalism in the late 20th century, social…show more content…
Historically, freedom was viewed strictly as political liberty, but this has evolved into the right to live as one chooses, equipped with essential resources (Charmichael 41). Similarly, equality has broadened from the mere idea of equal citizenship rights to the idea that some government interference may be required to ensure the accessibility of rights. For example, all people have the right to legal counsel, but for those who cannot afford a lawyer, legal aid may be required. Though liberals agree that everyone should have equal access to rights, the extent that government should minimize social inequities is debatable (42). In general, liberal democrats prioritize political equality, entailing equal voting rights and representative government (Harder 75; Plattner 131-2), as well as economic freedom, which protects property rights and allows businesses to operate free of government (Kellogg 52; Plattner 128). As such, economic inequalities are typically viewed as a natural consequence of freedom. Nevertheless, some liberals argue that government need not constrain economic freedom if it promotes equal opportunities (Mintz 105-6). In a liberal democracy, the notion that property is a private matter (Kellogg 52) has evolved over time. In the laissez faire era of the late 19th century, property rights enabled owners to subject workers to intolerable working
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