Among economists, it is said Adam Smith is one of the main contributors to modern free market economics. His thoughts attacked mercantilism which was the prevalent form of government at the time. His works provided systematic rationales in the subjects of capitalism, free markets, and limited government intervention. His most popular books changed history because without them, many of these thoughts and ideas would not be so prevalent. Smith is regarded and cited as the father of modern economics. With this said, not all of Smith’s ideas were in agreement with laissez-faire. Although Adam Smith pioneered many ideas on modern free market economics, Smith cannot be depicted as a defender of laissez-faire because of his ideas on retaliatory tariffs, public goods, and taxation.
The term laissez-faire (meaning ‘let it be’) was popularized by Vincent de Gournay in the 1750’s. From Merriam-Webster’s dictionary the term is defined as a doctrine opposing governmental interference in economic affairs beyond the minimum necessary for the maintenance of peace and property …
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