CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES | The debate over how markets function, and how they should be allowed to function, goes back at least to Adam Smith. On the far right are those who argue that the market mechanism can solve most problems by itself if left alone. Those on the far left argue that the system is fundamentally flawed and only produces poverty for the great majority of workers. Most economists and governments fall somewhere in the middle, with the right of center favoring more reliance on the operation of markets, and the left of center arguing for more, albeit selective, government control. Our two political parties generally divide the same way, with the Republicans adhering more closely to free-market orthodoxy and the Democrats more willing to use the force of government to tilt markets in the directions they favor.
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