Steve Forbes has an essay that goes along with the issue that carries his magazine's latest list of the 400 richest Americans:
Well before the economic crisis intensified the drumbeat against "greed" and "free markets" on the part of the media and politicians, many people, including an astonishing number in business itself, didn't have a clear understanding of just what constitutes a "free" market. This is why they blame capitalism for economic disasters, such as the recent mortgage meltdown and the astronomical cost of health insurance, when those disasters have in fact been caused by the government's not allowing markets to function.
Let's set the record straight: Far from having failed, democratic capitalism is the world's greatest success story. No other system has improved the lives of so many people. The recent turmoil by no means mitigates the explosion of prosperity that has taken place since the early 1980s, when President Ronald Reagan enacted pro-market measures--low tax rates and less stringent regulation--that unleashed job-creating capital. The result: a surging economy that produced a flood of innovation, from personal computers and cellular phones to the Internet. Not only "the rich" but people at all income levels are today doing better.
It's worth clicking through to read the entire 3,400 word essay. He's a bit too hard on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and he may overstate things a bit from time to time, but for a clear articulation of the free market view it is hard to do better than this. (Disclosure: I'm an occasional contributor to the Forbes Web site.)