As Long As It’s Free

As reported in Business Week’s BTW section, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently studied the word associations people have with various free-market terms.

The results were not surprising; some terms that generally mean the same thing bring starkly different associations. The piece quotes Rich Thau, who ran the testing, as saying:

“There were those who associated ‘capitalism’ with greed and with the powerful dominating the vulnerable.” But those negatives, he says, didn’t apply at all to “free enterprise.”

Call it capitalism or free enterprise; to me it doesn’t matter as long as it’s free. But indeed, for full impact in convincing those on the fence, it probably does matter how you say it.

HT to Claire S. Forman at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.