It is widely believed today that the free market is the best mechanism ever invented to efficiently allocate resources in society. Just as fundamental is the belief that government has a legitimate and competent role in policing and punishing. The result, in this country, has been an incendiary combination of laissez faire and mass incarceration. Today, the United States incarcerates over one percent of its adult population, the highest number and rate in the world. In this CBI, Professor Harcourt will trace the birth of the idea of natural orderliness in economic thought and its gradual evolution into today’s myth of the free market, and explore how it could possibly have produced the largest government-run penal sphere on the globe.This talk was recorded on February 21, 2011, as part of the Chicago's Best Ideas lecture series. Bernard Harcourt is Julius Kreeger Professor of Law & Criminology and Chair and Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago.Interested in this topic? Discuss it with the author on Goodreads through March 31.