"free market has the inherent checks and balances"
The issue with the actual "free" market is that many people are busy neutering the "inherent checks and balances" because they will work against them, and they don't like things like competition and the like. And many executive incompetency and laziness is often highly rewarded through golden parachutes.
In many ways welfare is being use by big business to avoid to pay workers better - they attempt to burden the state and taxpayers (not them, because their money find every way to lonely islands...) with their greed and inefficiencies. They even make more money from it by increasing the debt level, which is another way to transfer even more money from the poor to the rich under the guise of interests paid to buy the same goods/services people should be able to buy directly.
Yes, we would need to fix the free market first, and make it truly competitive and meritocratic, from the *top* to the bottom....