HAHAHAHAHA!!! I have never been less qualified before in my life.
First of all, it's easy to forget that politics and economics are two different things. Politically we're a democracy. Economically, we're a mixed market economy. We're mixed because we are not a pure, free market. Right?
A central feature of the U.S. economy is the economic freedom afforded to the private sector by allowing the private sector to make the majority of economic decisions in determining the direction and scale of what the U.S. economy produces. This is enhanced by relatively low levels of regulation and government involvement, as well as a court system that generally protects property rights and enforces contracts.
In a market economy, government plays a limited role in economic decision making. However, the United States does not have a pure market economy, and the government plays an important role in the national economy. It provides services and goods that the market cannot provide effectively, such as national defense, assistance programs for low-income families, and interstate highways and airports. The government also provides incentives to encourage the production and consumption of certain types of products, and discourage the production and consumption of others. It sets general guidelines for doing business and makes policy decisions that affect the economy as a whole. The government also establishes safety guidelines that regulate consumer products, working conditions, and environmental protection. (for more, go here.)
Other kinds of goods and services (such as health care and higher education) are produced and consumed in private markets, but the government attempts to increase the amount of these products available in the economy.
Even the staunchest supporters of private markets have recognized a role for the government to provide a safety net of support for U.S. citizens. This support includes providing income, housing, food, and medicine for those who cannot provide a basic standard of living for themselves or their families.
We'll catch you when you fall, but we won't help you up. Ok, maybe that's not fair: "assistance programs for low-income families" etc. But I might argue that it's not nearly sufficient. I'd like to think we could do better. I do think we could do better. I'm just not sure how. Yet. That's the point of grad school.