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Free Market Society

What is a free market?

In a free market society, such as the one people enjoy in the United States, supply and demand give rise to prices and products available to consumers while the government remains, for the most part, uninvolved.  You might think it makes sense to base an economy on a system that works to meet the needs of consumers through efficient use of available commodities, but not everyone agrees. In some countries the free market system is déclassé.  What follows is a closer look at this phenomenon.

Cuba is one of few countries left in the world whom do not utilize a free market system. Under the dictatorship of Fidel Castro, Cuba still has a command economy where “the government owns most of the business firms, which produce according to government directives” (McConnell, Brue, & Flynn, 2012, p. 30). A person in a free market society might wonder how people could be satisfied with only producing what the government’ decrees, but there are benefits, at least on the surface. The struggle in Cuba between social equality and the free market lies in the comfort that comes from having someone take care of your needs. It may be stifling to live under someone else’s rules, but if they’re going to supply you with everything you need, it can be hard to say no.

Of course, “since everyone got paid the same, there was scant incentive to make good products” (McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2012). Therein lays the reason behind the collapse of command economies. Your needs might well be met, but where is the joie de vivre? What about the wants? It’s not surprising that Cuba has begun to allow some market economy activity to creep into their command economy lifestyle. Since the collapse of Russia, and the loss of that support, Cuba has struggled to make ends meet. Recognizing the need for more income, Cuba has begun to invite tourism, and tourist dollars.

Oddly enough, not everyone is happy about the changes taking place, in spite of the increased availability of products and the increased standard of living. Students at the elite Lenin High School do not want capitalism because as one student puts it, “We are the same people. We have the same clothes, the same things” (McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2012). Others welcome the changes. They are enticed by the incentive of a more prosperous lifestyle. Many breadwinners like that there are more products available and they welcome the shorter lines. As one vendor in the market said, “It is better quality. This is what people are looking for” (McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2012).

One can hope that a free market and capitalism, ruled by the laws of supply and demand, will win out against a totalitarian command economy system, but the enticement of being taken care of is a big one. Many people in the United States are looking for a way out of the current depression, and seem to think a more socialistic approach is better for the good of the country. In the end though, I believe the free market will win out because wants hold a piece of all of us. We may be satisfied with having someone take care of our every need for a little while, but like the teenagers I teach, we will soon rebel against the constraints of a totalitarian economy like Cuba’s.


McConnell, C., Brue, S., & Flynn, S. (2012). Economics principles, problems, and policies. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Irwin.

McGraw-Hill Irwin. (2012). Capitalism versus Socialism: The Cuban Quandary. Retrieved Aug. 21, 2012, from Capella University Transcript