However, theory is only theory. In the textbook version of free trade, time does not exist and all parties always win immediately. But in the real world of free trade, entire generations can be savaged as jobs and capital slosh around the world.
A free-market economy implies a math-based level of social balance where everyone plays fairly by the same rules. Can you think of one example anywhere in human history where things have actually played out this way?
Argue all you want about robust justice systems or more aggressive, better-armed law enforcement - building a better mouse trap simply encourages a smarter mouse.
And that's just economics - how about social design? Standardized testing implies standardized students with the same cognitive abilities, access to dietary needs and parenting influences. One-size-fits-all transit systems don't take into account the roots causes of erratic driving behaviour, as per the picture above. Even our model of democracy implies everyone's paying attention and Political Parties aren't looking for creative ways to bend the rules, putting the win ahead of the system.
Self-described smart people can tell us "it's the economy, stupid" all they want - but if they haven't taken the time to understand social economics, they're being too clever by half.
We've got both an opportunity and a need to start designing social systems to better meet the needs and realistic behaviour patterns of citizens. Until we start recognizing that people are emotional creatures first, rational creatures second, we're deluding ourselves when we say this time, it's going to work.
Of course, substantial change requires the people at the top to recognize it's their job to go out and aggressively advocate for ideas from the grassroots, not vice-versa. Of course, the nature of aggressive confidence is such that those who need to reach out the most will be the least inclined to do so while those with the best hopes of fostering a sustainable society are least likely to fight others to realize it.
Getting to the root cause of social behaviour can mess with your head, can't it?