One of the fundamental ideological principals of American Conservatism is and always has been that of the Free Market Economy. The classical definition of a Free Market is a system in which the prices for goods and services are determined by the open market and consumers, in which the laws and forces of supply and demand are free from any intervention by a government, price-setting monopoly, or other authority.
The concept has a number of inherent caveats upon which it is predicated. Free from government intervention does not for instance mean from government involvement. Every legitimate government has upon it certain mandated requirement in which it must play a role or involvement. Since any legitimate government has as one of its primary and mandatory societal responsibilities to maintain civil order and the reasonable safety and security of its citizens or subjects. It becomes necessary for said governments to enact various laws regarding commerce which though not a intervention in the market itself constitute an involvement both directly and indirectly in the market.
No legitimate government can willingly or knowingly allow for the manufacture, importation, sales or distribution of goods or services that contain concealed lethal technical or design flaws or side effects. In order to achieve this, governments must enact laws and regulations which ensure that products and services which reach the market are as free from concealed lethal technical or design flaws or side effects as can reasonably be made.
The processes involved in the manufacture of goods and services must also undergo such legal and regulatory scrutiny as are required to ensure that the life and health of the individuals producing said goods and services are not placed at unacceptable risk levels.
The role of governments in ensuring that consumers are not subjected to fraudulent or predatory practices in the market place constitutes governmental involvement in the market but not government intervention. Laws and regulations that ensure that when a consumer purchases a specific weight or volume of a product or service that the weight or volume of said product factually conforms to the specified weight or volume of said products or services constitutes governmental involvement rather than governmental intervention.
Laws that prevent price-setting monopolies, cartels or other authorities from deceitfully manipulating scarcity, quality or prices on goods or services or from engaging in predatory manipulation of prices when natural or unnatural events or circumstances dramatically alter scarcity or quality of products or services again fall under governmental involvement rather than governmental intervention.
These caveats are profoundly important in the definition of a Free Market Economy. Their significance is that from which the distinction is drawn differentiating the difference between government, price-setting monopolies, cartels or other authorities involvement and government, price-setting monopolies, cartels or other authorities intervention in the market. Intervention in the free market whether by government, price-setting monopolies, cartels or other authorities takes place when any of the said entities take such actions which artificial alter the natural dynamics of the market.
Examples of when such intervention takes place are 1) when a government, price-setting monopoly, cartel or other authority steps in to subsidizes the cost of manufacturing goods or services specifically for the purpose of gaining market share advantage. 2) When tariffs, duties or importation restrictions are levied for the purpose of gaining or maintaining market share advantage. 3) When currency exchange rates are manipulated in such a manner as to create a market share advantage.
When such conditions are imposed on the market in which the prices for goods and services are no longer determined by the open market and consumers and the laws and forces of supply and demand are no longer free from any intervention by a government, price-setting monopoly, or other authority not only does the market cease to be a Free Market Economic system, but the inequities imposed by such interventions breed reciprocal actions and consequences.
American Conservatism has always held the ideological position that Free Trade is required for a healthy prosperous and growing economy. That departure from Free Trade practices should only be employed as a final resort when good faith attempts at negotiations aimed specifically at correcting trade inequalities brought on by Governmental, price-setting monopolies, cartels or other authorities fail to correct those inequalities.