|The dismal science|
Laissez-faire (a.k.a "fairly lazy") literally means "let be" or "allow to do." A laissez-faire government is one that does not meddle more than strictly necessary in the affairs of its citizens. Folklore suggests that it comes from the answer Jean-Baptiste Colbert, controller general of finance under King Louis XIV of France, received when he asked industrialists what the government could do to help business: "Leave us alone." Others maintain the term originated with a group of French economists known as the Physiocrats. Subsequently, it became popular with believers in Social Darwinism, but few political movements still believe in a truly laissez-faire economic system.
Even most, though by no means all, libertarians believe in some small amount of government work, such as building and maintaining roads and providing a military, although there are a few libertarians who are capitalist anarchists, and want to privatize everything.
Laissez-faire economies are fortunately rare in contemporary world. A possible modern example of laissez-faire economy is Hong Kong.