Holmes Report Blog

The Holmes Report blog focuses on news and issues of interest to public relations professionals. Our main site can be found at www.holmesreport.com.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Worst System in the World, Except for All the Others?: The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page draws our attention to a study conducted for the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes that asked 20,000 people in 20 countries around the world what they thought of the capitalist, free market system.

When people were asked whether they agreed that "the free enterprise system and free market economy is the best system on which to base the future of the world,” supporters of the free market system outnumbered opponents by more than two to one. Only in France did a majority disagree.

The Journal notes that support for the proposition was highest in communist China—without pausing to question why people who have little or no exposure to capitalism like it better than those who experience it every day.

What the Journal doesn’t note is that while people accept that free markets are the best system available, respondents made it clear that want to make sure free market forces are kept in check. (Funny how the Journal missed that.)

Solid majorities in every country favored more regulation of large companies to protect the rights of workers (mean 74 percent), the rights of consumers (mean 73 percent), and the environment (mean 75 percent). Two-thirds of those polled agreed that "the free enterprise system and free market economy work best in society's interests when accompanied by strong government regulations."

And 73 percent agreed that "large companies have too much influence over our national government." Meanwhile, just 7 percent said they had a lot of trust in companies to act in the best interest of society, while another 34 percent said they had some trust.

Not quite the ringing endorsement of untrammeled free enterprise the Journal would have us believe.


  • At 3:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    To my mind this reflects a basic human condition which is largely overlooked by both big business and those who comment on it; namely, the tendency towards common sense. Most people, surely, look for a degree of balance, recognise that life is not perfect and that we generally muddle through, favour cock-up over conspiracy as the main explanation for mistakes and consequently want power and influence spread about a bit.


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