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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 XIVWikipedia's W.svg of France, received when he asked industrialists what the government could do to help business: "Leave us alone."[1] Others maintain the term originated with a group of French economists known as the Physiocrats.[2] Subsequently, it became popular with believers in Social Darwinism,Wikipedia's W.svg 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.

Twelve in a room in America[edit]

The U.S. is pretty capitalistic, even by modern standards. And historically, minorities have a bad time of it in the workplace.

Laissez-faire means hands off private business—meaning no regulation. Besides the slave trade, blacks, Asians, Hispanics, and the Irish were devalued and discriminated against. Capitalism did nothing to stop that. A capitalist society will exploit what it can to cut costs. The idea that capitalism rewards rational thought is half-true. The idea that it penalizes irrational thought (including racism) is false. Before the government put a ban on discrimination in the work place (we're inclined to believe it still happens), racism was rampant and corporations pitted minorities against each other because they could. Capitalism ought to penalize racism now, because of these bans, but before the bans it rewarded racism.

See also[edit]