In these discussions I'm confused by the term "free market." It seems that different sides have different understandings of what is meant by free market. The following is a list of laws that I am curious whether you would include or not in the definition of free market.
1. Sherman Anti-Trust Act (Outlawed most monopolies)
2. Clayton Act (Defined which combinations of businesses were lawful)
3. Interstate Commerce Act (Regulated rates railroads could charge across state lines)
4. Pure Food and Drug Act (Forbid the sale of impure, or dishonestly labelled food and drugs)
5. An assortment of laws to improve working conditions for workers including:
a. Work by women and children
b. Working conditions
d. Minimum wages
6. Wagner Act (Granted workers the right to organize into unions)
7. Taft-Hartly Act (Limited the activities of unions)
8. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration)
9. Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, etc.)
One of the criticisms of free markets is that they exploit workers. Lack of a minimum wage is one way. As wages are lowered, workers have fewer and fewer options of finding a different job. Worse yet, when the company is the major employer in an area, there is no place to go. A minimum wage is protection against that.IMO the most contrary to free market beliefs are: 5a, 5d, and 9. These 3 policy-types cause losses for both consumers and producers using purely egalitarian reasons without economic basis. Do I think children should be exploited? Absolutely not, but do I think a 12 year old can work in an appropriate setting? Sure! The rest of the policies generally have a net benefit for the market (without consumer or producer bias).