Saturday , 3 December 2016


Milton Friedman On Governments, Free Trade & Drugs

There are very few people over the generations who have ideas that are sufficiently original to materially alter the direction of civilization. Milton Friedman was one of those very few people. Below are a number of his most insightful views on governments, free trade and drugs.

Milton Friedman was (he died on 2006) an American Nobel Laureate economist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1976 for his achievements in the fields of consumption analysis, monetary history and theory, and for his demonstration of the complexity of stabilization policy.

  • According to The Economist, Friedman “was the most influential economist of the second half of the 20th century…possibly of all of it”.
  • Former Federal Reserve Board chairman Alan Greenspan stated, “There are very few people over the generations who have ideas that are sufficiently original to materially alter the direction of civilization. Milton is one of those very few people.”
  • Source: Wikipedia

The edited selection of Friedman’s views in this article come from a post* by Mike Shedlock (globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.ca) which can be read in its entirety here.

Friedman on Governments

  • Governments never learn. Only people learn.
  • If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there would be a shortage of sand.
  • A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.
  • One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.
  • Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.
  • I am in favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it’s possible.
  • Many people want the government to protect the consumer. A much more urgent problem is to protect the consumer from the government.

Friedman on Free Trade

  • Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.
  • Well first of all, tell me: Is there some society you know that doesn’t run on greed? You think Russia doesn’t run on greed? You think China doesn’t run on greed? What is greed? Of course, none of us are greedy, it’s only the other fellow who’s greedy. The world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests. The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus. Einstein didn’t construct his theory under order from a bureaucrat. Henry Ford didn’t revolutionize the automobile industry that way. In the only cases in which the masses have escaped from the kind of grinding poverty you’re talking about, the only cases in recorded history, are where they have had capitalism and largely free trade. If you want to know where the masses are worse off, worst off, it’s exactly in the kinds of societies that depart from that. So that the record of history is absolutely crystal clear, that there is no alternative way so far discovered of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by the free-enterprise system.
  • When unions get higher wages for their members by restricting entry into an occupation, those higher wages are at the expense of other workers who find their opportunities reduced. When government pays its employees higher wages, those higher wages are at the expense of the taxpayer. But when workers get higher wages and better working conditions through the free market, when they get raises by firm competing with one another for the best workers, by workers competing with one another for the best jobs, those higher wages are at nobody’s expense. They can only come from higher productivity, greater capital investment, more widely diffused skills. The whole pie is bigger – there’s more for the worker, but there’s also more for the employer, the investor, the consumer, and even the tax collector. That’s the way the free market system distributes the fruits of economic progress among all people. That’s the secret of the enormous improvements in the conditions of the working person over the past two centuries.

Friedman On Drugs

  • See, if you look at the drug war from a purely economic point of view, the role of the government is to protect the drug cartel. That’s literally true.
  • Now here’s somebody who wants to smoke a marijuana cigarette. If he’s caught, he goes to jail. Now is that moral? Is that proper? I think it’s absolutely disgraceful that our government, supposed to be our government, should be in the position of converting people who are not harming others into criminals, of destroying their lives, putting them in jail. That’s the issue to me. The economic issue comes in only for explaining why it has those effects. But the economic reasons are not the reasons.

Also consider Milton Friedman Quotes.

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[The original article* is presented above by the editorial team of munKNEE.com (Your Key to Making Money!) and the FREE Market Intelligence Report newsletter (see sample hereregister here) in a slightly edited ([ ]) and abridged (…) format to provide a fast and easy read.]

*http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.ca/2015/10/milton-friedman-accurately-explains.html