Since the 2008 economic meltdown, Americans have changed the way they think about the free market economy and now, according to a new poll, are more skeptical of it than the people of even Communist Party-led China.
The international polling firm GlobeScan asked 12,884 people in 25 countries whether they agreed or disagreed with the following statement: "The free market system and free market economy is the best system on which to base the future of the world."
"America is the last place we would have expected to see such a sharp drop in trust in the free enterprise system," GlobeScan chair Doug Miller said upon releasing the results of the survey.
Apparently, only 59 percent of Americans - with a margin of error of around four points - "strongly agreed" (37 percent) or "somewhat agreed" (22 percent). 80 percent of people in the U.S. picked one of these two options in 2002, and as recently as 2008 - when the number started a precipitous decline - more than 70 percent still gave the free market a thumbs up.
29 percent "somewhat disagree" or "strongly disagree" with the current system, while the rest remain undecided.
By contrast, 67 percent of the populations of Brazil and China see the free market system as generally good, and rounding out the bottom of the list are France and Turkey, 31 and 27 percent of whose citizens, respectively, see the economic system as generally good.
51 percent of Russians - the only former socialist country on the list - see the free market as good, while 31 percent see it as generally bad.
For Americans, the results of this poll are in keeping with other recent polls, many of which show a rising number of people disapproving of the current system. A 2009 Rasmussen poll showed that only 53 percent of American adults believe capitalism is better than socialism, and that a full third of U.S. citizens under 30 believe socialism is a superior system.
More recently, another poll found that one in 10 Americans thought communism is a morally superior system to our own, and another 10 percent, weren't sure - meaning a fifth of the American population weren't sure that capitalism was better than a communist system.
The numbers presented in the most recent poll seem easy enough to understand. Countries like the United States and Britain, where only 55 percent see the free market economy as superior - were battered by the economic crisis that began in 2008. Double-digit unemployment, foreclosures and other crises brought on by the Great Recession are sure to have shaken American and British faith in the free market.
At the same time, India, China and Brazil, all with some form of market economy, have been rapidly developing, and the standard of living in both countries has been on the rise as well. Consequently, one would expect that faith in the market would prevail.
But certain other countries seem to contradict this reasoning. Germany, with near 70 percent support for the free market, was also hit hard by the crisis, for example.
"The poll suggest that American business is close to losing its social contract with average American families that has enabled it to prosper in the world," Miller said.