Published April 12, 2011
Like their nation’s economic output over the past ten years, Americans faith in the free market system has fallen, according to a poll conducted by GlobeScan, a polling and consultancy firm.
The research claims 59% of Americans agreed "strongly" or "somewhat" that the free market was the best system for the world's future. That’s down from 80% in 2002 when the company said it began polling Americans’ faith in capitalism.
Devotion to the free-market system is lower among Americans earning less than $20,000 a year, falling from 76% to 44% between 2002 and 2010, according to the poll. GlobeScan released its poll this month and the firm said it conducted its research between June 24 and September 18, 2010. Since then, the unemployment rate has fallen from 9.6% to 8.8%.
Charting GlobeScan’s results demonstrate a deep drop in confidence around the time the economy began painfully shedding hundreds of thousands of jobs monthly, and the government propped up the nations’, and in some cases the world’s, financial system with hundreds of billions of dollars in U.S. government credit.
While founded on free-market principles, the United States has been ever defining its brand of capitalism. Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson divided the nation over the creation of a national bank, and even the role of banking in American society. "I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies,” said Jefferson.
The United States built its industrial might through the 19th Century, and the often bloody transition to organized labor left some calling for an end to a system they saw as unfair.
By the 20th Century, an anarchist allegedly bombed Wall Street, killing dozens. During the Great Depression, the popular Huey Long proposed Americans “Share Our Wealth” and redistribute citizens’ assets.
Americans have sustained capitalism in varied forms throughout their history. Many have challenged that system, especially during times of economic distress.