How the Free-Market Benefits the Least Advantaged
by Keli'i Akina, Ph.D., President/CEO, Grassroot Institute of Hawaii
There are two approaches to meeting the needs of the least advantaged in society. And both approaches are essential and must take place simultaneously.
The first approach is on the ground level. It’s the meeting of the immediate needs of the least advantaged for food, clothing, shelter, and health care. Those who serve at this level are really the boots on the ground in the endeavor to alleviate poverty and homelessness.
But there is a second approach that is frequently neglected or absent. And that is the revamping of the economy according to free market principles in such a way that will benefit all people including the least advantaged in society.
The term "free market" is often misunderstood or promoted in its extreme form, so it is important to clarify what we are talking about. Free market economics does not mean that the poor must fend for themselves without a safety net. It does not mean survival of the fittest according to the Gospel of Gordon Gecko of Wall Street. Nor does it mean that Government has no role to play at all.
Free market principles are those which allow the market to work in the most natural way, harnessing the forces of supply and demand with the least amount of government interference. The free market allows individuals and companies to exchange freely with each other in the environment of healthy competition, ultimately providing consumers with the greatest amount of choice. When free markets operate well, government has a limited and accountable role, most significantly in ensuring the rule of law, which protects individual property rights and ensures that contracts are upheld.
Research shows that wherever free market principles are implemented, the economy flourishes and all segments of society--the wealthy and the poor--are better off in terms of economic and human rights.
That is why the Grassroot Institute is researching and developing free-market policies that will help alleviate homelessness and policy. Click here to view 10 of our initiatives, what I like to call, “10 things Hawaii Can Do So That Everyone Gets Richer.”