Capitalism and Freedom, Milton Friedman

Famous Friedman Quotes

Milton Friedman – University of Chicago School of Economics Professor

As I read the comments by Milton Friedman, I can’t help but think about how his words relate so much to today’s economic and political issues.

“Nobody spends somebody else’s money as carefully as he spends his own. Nobody uses somebody else’s resources as carefully as he uses his own. So if you want efficiency and effectiveness, if you want knowledge to be properly utilized, you have to do it through the means of private property.”

See Video: Friedman Explains Spending

“There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

“The only way that has ever been discovered to have a lot of people cooperate together voluntarily is through the free market. And that’s why it’s so essential to preserving individual freedom.”

“The most important single central fact about a free market is that no exchange takes place unless both parties benefit.”

“My major problem with the world is a problem of scarcity in the midst of plenty … of people starving while there are unused resources … people having skills which are not being used.”

“The most important ways in which I think the Internet will affect the big issue is that it will make it more difficult for government to collect taxes.”

“The black market was a way of getting around government controls. It was a way of enabling the free market to work. It was a way of opening up, enabling people.”

“The Great Depression, like most other periods of severe unemployment, was produced by government mismanagement rather than by any inherent instability of the private economy.”

“Governments never learn. Only people learn.”

“Only government can take perfectly good paper, cover it with perfectly good ink and make the combination worthless.”

“The greatest advances of civilization, whether in architecture or painting, in science and literature, in industry or agriculture, have never come from centralized government.”

“So the question is, do corporate executives, provided they stay within the law, have responsibilities in their business activities other than to make as much money for their stockholders as possible? And my answer to that is, no they do not.”

“Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.”

“We have a system that increasingly taxes work and subsidizes nonwork.”

“I’m in favor of legalizing drugs. According to my values system, if people want to kill themselves, they have every right to do so. Most of the harm that comes from drugs is because they are illegal.”

“If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there’d be a shortage of sand.”

“Inflation is the one form of taxation that can be imposed without legislation.”

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Free Markets

Hispaniola Island and Friedman

Early map of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, circa 1639.
Early map of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, circa 1639.

Milton Friedman would look at the Island of Hispaniola and point to it as an example of the relationship between economic freedom and economic success. Friedman  would call the Island of Hispaniola ‘a tale of two countries – Haiti and the Dominican Republic’.

One country has a democratic republic which encourages capitalism. The other a history of repressive military government and even slavery.

Governments which allow individuals to pursue their own economic interests generate greater economic well being and freedom to larger swaths of the general population. Governments that get too big and too powerful become oppressive to its people, reduce economic wealth and individual freedom.

Hispaniola is an excellent example of capitalism working and lack of capitalism causing economic hardships.

Economically speaking, Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas. Contrast that with the capitalist Dominican Republic with the largest economy in Central America.

Haiti, by contrast, had a nominal GDP of 7.018 billion USD in 2009 with a GDP per capita of 790 USD, about $2 per person per day. Dominicans have a GDP of 9208 USD with exceptional economic growth rates around 10% per year over the past 2 years!

Haiti is an impoverished country, one of the world’s poorest and least developed. Comparative social and economic indicators show Haiti falling behind other low-income developing countries (particularly in the hemisphere) since the 1980s.

Haiti now ranks 149th of 182 countries in the United Nations Human Development Index (2006). About 80% of the population were estimated to be living in poverty in 2003. Most Haitians live on $2 or less per day. Poverty has forced at least 225,000 children in Haiti’s cities into slavery as unpaid household servants.

Contrast Haiti with the Dominican regarding tourism. The only figures I can find is $1.5 billion in 2007 for DM and no economic number for Haiti.

Friedman would summarize that “Clearly capitalism works, just look at the Island of Hispaniola” which shows in stark contrast a tale of a country that has prospered and another has failed miserably.

Haiti Needs Economic Freedom
Allow the people to work unhindered and you will see Haiti become a top travel destination. The weather is beautiful year round. Haiti needs to help its people help themselves by turning oppression into economic freedom. Without Capitalism, Haiti fails over and over again. A man must be allowed to look out for himself without repression. He must be allowed to seek the labor he so desires without taxation or threat of violence. To be successful economically, he must be allowed to reap the rewards of his labor so he may contribute to the economy economically. Haiti needs a fair government of free people.

Let the capitalist rebuild. Perhaps someone will see the value. Especially if the government becomes a democratic republic like its neighbor, DM.

And let this be a lesson to those in America that big government is exactly what we need to avoid. Smaller government means greater economic freedom. Be free and live.


Conservative, Ronald Reagan

The 10.2% Unemployment Friedman Solution

Nearly 16 million people can’t find jobs even though the worst recession since the Great Depression has supposedly ended. The Labor Department said Friday that jobless rate rose to 10.2 percent, the highest since April 1983, from 9.8 percent in September.

Economists say the unemployment rate could climb as high as 10.5 percent next year because employers remain reluctant to hire.

Thanks to Reagan and the confidence he brought to America with his economic plan*, the economy soared by nearly 8 percent in 1983 after a steep recession. This lowered the jobless rate by 2.5 percentage points that year.

But with Obama’s presidency, all confidence is gone, spending is up and the economy is likely to grow by less than 3% according to recent comments from many noted economists such as Wells Fargo chief economist John Silvia. Mr. Silva projects 2.4% for all of 2010.

Fat Obama GovernmentFriedman would advise that Obama go on a strict diet.

He should reduce the size of government, reduce spending, reduce taxes and reduce the the growth of the money supply.

Instead, Obama rejects Milton Friedman’s proven monetarist policies.

This is causing too much growth in the size of the Obama Administration.



When Ronald Reagan entered the White House in 1981, he immediately put into effect a dramatic new economic policy that was founded on the principles of one of his most important economic advisors, Milton Friedman.

Reaganomics has four main policy objectives:

1. Reduce the growth of government spending
2. Reduce the marginal tax rates on income from both labor and capital
3. Reduce regulation
4. Reduce inflation by controlling the growth of the money supply

The goal of these objectives was to increase savings, investment, and economic growth. Balancing the budget, restoring healthy financial markets, and reducing inflation and key interest rates.

Conservative, Milton Friedman, Ronald Reagan

Fair and Balanced: Friedman was a Liberal before he was a Conservative

Although Friedman lived in earlier times, 1912 to 2006, what Friedman concludes about our capitalist system is exactly what we need to conclude today. Friedman is an excellent study because he at times agreed with both liberal and conservative points of view. Ultimately Friedman’s political eye acutely focused on minimizing the role of government in favor of the private sector.

Friedman Saw Both Sides
He didn’t start out being a conservative, Friedman was originally a liberal and a supporter of FDR’s New Deal’s government intervention in the economy. That all changed in the 1950s when Friedman saw the New Deal Keynesian consumption model failing over and over again. This was the impetus for Friedman to re-evaluate Keynesian economics. He realized the fatal flaw that was a obstacle to business growth and economic recovery. The government was taking too much from the providers and giving it all to the takers. At some point this becomes too big a burden on the workers of a society and the system fails to produce any real growth.

Friedman won the Nobel Peace Prize in Economics. It’s too bad the prize has fallen into shame today.

Friedman More Qualified Than Most
It could be argued that Friedman not only agreed at times with both sides, his arguments have been the most proven to be correct over time. Even Democrat Bill Clinton subscribed to tax cuts to 90 percent of small businesses. President Clinton signed into law the largest deficit reduction plan in history resulting in over $600 billion in deficit reduction. This is right out of Milton and the Chicago School of Economics.

Are there no Milton Friedman’s in Washington?
George W. Bush did not go to the same Chicago school of Economics. And GW Bush did not subscribe to Friedman’s proven policies. Instead George W. Bush spent 5 times more than Clinton.  W. Andrew Sullivan of the TimesOnLine asks, Is Bush a Socialist?

The Time to be Fiscally Responsible is NOW
Obama has proven to be totally irresponsible in fiscal matters. Spend first, find the money second is not only irresponsible, some of the spending may be constitutionally questionable. How can the government seriously fund $787 Billion overnight to bail out private businesses? Health care will increase spending by $600 in a US House bill.  Cash for Clunkers cost taxpayers $24,000 per car and destroyed the entire economic value of every used car.

What about the next generation of republicans and blue dog democrats? Will there be any fiscal conservatives in the next presidential election?

Its time to stop burdening our children with our wild and reckless spending.

Listen Milton Friedman, he’s the expert….

The Power of the Market (Parts 1 and 2)

Milton Friedman – Socialized Medicine


Conservative, Republican, Ronald Reagan

Novak now with Friedman

Conservative Values
Robert Novak

Robert David Sanders Novak has joined Milton Friedman. But like Friedman, he is  still speaking to millions who posess conservative values by the volumes of work he leaves behind.

Bob, what his friends called him, was clearly a desciple of Friedman. He was known for saying, “always love your country, but never trust your government.”

Novak, like Friedman, lived and worked among the movers and the shakers, Milton in Chicago and Novak in Washington D.C..

Novak was the Milton Friedman of American Journalism. His reporting was from the viewpoint of a fiscal conservative with  high standards of personal responsibility and moral values.

The first president he covered was Harry Truman, and he has been in Washington ever since, breaking a huge number of big stories.

In his books, the Prince of Darkness and 33 Questions about American History, Novak here reveals the extraordinary 50 years of transformations that have fundamentally remade Washington politics and journalism as we know it today.

Here are some excerpts from the book that Novak remembers about our presidents:

The secret of Reagan’s success: he “kept his gaze on big goals” and displayed “implacable calm in the face of adversity”

Gerald Ford: “Of the ten presidents I covered, only Ford was a believer in congressional supremacy” and the minimizing of presidential power.

Richard Nixon: “A poor president and a bad man who inflicted grave damage on his party and his country”

Jimmy Carter: “A habitual liar who modified the truth to suit his own purposes”

Clinton’s politics: “Clinton was a man of the Left who disguised himself as a man of the center…Combining this with his personal misadventures meant the nineties would prove a dreadful decade for the Democrats”

George H.W. Bush: “An unhappy president. He could not come to grips with the prevailing Republican opinion on taxes, abortion, racial quotas, and other social and economic issues.”

Novak was very much influenced by Milton Friedman. He believed that the teaching of American history today is riddled with misrepresentations, misunderstandings, and flat-out lies about the people and events that have shaped the nation.

For example: the Indians didn’t save the Pilgrims from starvation by teaching them to grow corn. The “Wild West” wasn’t a freewheeling, lawless region – in fact it was more peaceful and a lot safer than most modern cities. Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal didn’t lift the United States out of the Great Depression. Foreign aid programs don’t help our friends and allies break out of poverty. And the biggest scandal involving Bill Clinton didn’t have anything to do with an intern in a blue dress and vengeful Republicans.

Capitalism and Freedom, Conservative, Free Markets, Milton Friedman

Milton Friedman on Minimum Wage Laws

According to Friedman, “There are no positive objectives achieved my minimum wages. It’s real purpose is to reduce competition with the trade unions.”

The well intentioned ‘do-gooders’ think that raising the minimum wage helps low wage earners. According to Friedman, the opposite occurs. What you do when you raise the minimum wage is to ensure that those whose skills are not up to the new rate will become unemployed.

The market, if allowed to set wages, will maximize the total number of jobs. That is due to the laws of supply and demand. It works for labor just as any other product or commodity. The number of jobs  will be adjusted by the rate the market will bear. Raise the minimum wage and you will see a reduction in the lowest paid jobs.

Capitalism and Freedom, Conservative

Friedman: Central Park is a Filthy Place

As a libertarian, Milton Friedman advocates private enterprise wherever possible. He uses central park in New York as a prime example of what is wrong with the government owning the park. 

It used to be that you could take your children to central park, drop them off with a teenage babysitter and feel good about it. Not any more since the park is government owned it has become a filthy unsafe place. No one in their right mind would consider dropping their kids off at the park today.

Not so with the museums in New York. Museums are privately owned. Some are for profit, some are not for profit. Museums, because they are owned by the people who manage them, are safe and clean. I would indeed allow my children to be dropped off at a museum because the owners are the best stewards of the property.

People are the best stewards of their own money. Governement is the worst. More info: Friedman Explains Spending