"The preservation of freedom is the protective reason for limiting and decentralizing governmental power. But there is also a constructive reason. The great advances of civilization, whether in architecture or painting, in science or in literature, in industry or agriculture, have never come from centralized government."

"Government power must be dispersed. If government is to exercise power, better in the county than in the state, better in the state than in Washington. If I do not like what my local community does, be it in sewage disposal, or zoning, or schools, I can move to another local community, and though few may take this step, the mere possibility acts as a check. If I do not like what Washington imposes, I have few alternatives in this world of jealous nations."

"A common objection to totalitarian societies is that they regard the end as justifying the means. Taken literally, this objection is clearly illogical. If the end does not justify the means, what does? But this easy answer does not dispose of the objection; it simply shows that the objection is not well put. To deny that the end justifies the means is indirectly to assert that the end in question is not the ultimate end, that the ultimate end is itself the use of the proper means. Desirable or not, any end that can be attained only by the use of bad means must give way to the more basic end of the use of acceptable means."

"It is a striking historical fact that the development of capitalism has been accompanied by a major reduction in the extent to which particular religious, racial, or social groups have operated under special handicaps in respect of their economic activities; have, as the saying goes, been discriminated against. The substitution of contract arrangements for status arrangements was the first step toward the freeing of the serfs in the Middle Ages. The preservation of Jews through the Middle Ages was possible because of the existence of a market sector in which they could operate and maintain themselves despite official persecution. Puritans and Quakers were able to migrate to the New World because they could accumulate the funds to do so in the market despite disabilities imposed on them in other aspects of their life."

- from "Capitalism and Freedom" UPDATE: Sadly, Milton Friedman passed away on the 16th November 2006. Even at the age of 94, Professor Friedman was planning to attend a National Review symposium as a guest panellist. You can read an article about his legacy at National Review Online.

"The high rate of unemployment among teenagers, and especially black teenagers, is both a scandal and a serious source of social unrest. Yet it is largely a result of minimum wage laws. We regard the minimum wage law as one of the most, if not the most, antiblack laws on the statute books."

"Selfishness is not myopic selfishness. It is whatever it is that interests the participants, whatever they value, whatever goals they pursue. The scientist seeking to advance the frontiers of his discipline, the philantrophist seeking to bring comfort to the needy, the missionary seeking to convert infidels to the true faith - all are pursuing their interests, as they see them, as they judge them by their own values. " (p.18)

"Currently more than 40% of our income is disposed of on our behalf by government at federal, state and local levels combined. One of us suggested a new national holiday, "Personal Independence Day" - that day in the year when we stop working to pay for the expenses of the government, and start working to pay for the items we severally and individually choose in light of our own needs and desires. In 1929, that holiday would have come on Feb 12; today it would come about May 30; if present trends were to continuel it would coincide with July 4. " (p.56 [from Newsweek])

"I define Equality of Opportunity as the following : Equality before the Law.
It is a career open to the talents. No arbitary obstacles should prevent people from achieving those positions for which their talents fit them and which their values lead them to seek. Not birth, nationality, colour, religion, sex, nor any other irrelevent characteristic should determine the opportunitiues that are open to a person - only his abilities.
Equality of opportunity, like personal equality, is not inconsistent with liberty, on the contrary, it is an essential component of liberty. If some people are denied access to particular positions in life for which they are qualified simply because of their ethnic background, colour, or religion, that is an interference with their right to "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."

"Industrial progress, mechanical improvement, all of the great wonders of the modern era have meant relatively little to the wealthy. The rich in Ancient Greece would have benefitted hardly at all from modern plumbing : running servants replaced running water. Television and radio? The Patricians of Rome could enjoy the leading musicians and actors in their home, could have the leading actors as domestic retainers. Ready-to-wear clothing, supermarkets - all these and many other modern developments woul have added little to their life. The great achievements of Western Capitalism have redounded primarily to the benefit of the ordinary person. These achievements have made available to the masses conveniences and amenities that were previously the exclusive perogative of the rich and powerful."

"A society that puts equality - in the sense of equality of outcome - ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality or freedom. The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom. On the other hand, a society that puts freedom first will, as a happy by-product, end up with both greater freedom and greater equality. Freedom means diversity but also mobility. It preserves the opportunity for today's less well off to become tomorrow's rich, and in the process, enables almost everyone, from top to bottom, to enjoy a richer and fuller life."

"The reign of tears is over. The slums will be only a memory. We will turn our prisons into factories and our jails into storehouses and corncribs. Men will walk upright now, women will smile, and the children will laugh. Hell will be forever for rent."
That is how Billy Sunday, noted evangelist and leading crusader aginst Demon Rum, greeted the onset of Prohibition in 1920, enacted in a burst of moral righteousness at the end of the First World War. That episode is a stark reminder of where drives to protect us from ourselves can lead.
Prohibition was imposed for our own good. Alcohol is a dangerous substance. More lives are lost each year from alcohol than from all the dangerous substances the FDA controls put together. But where did Prohibtion lead?
New prisons and jails had to be built to house the criminals spawned by converting the drinking of spirits into a crime against the state. Al Capone, Bugs Moran became notorious for their exploits - murder, extortion, hijacking, bootlegging.Who were their customers? Respectable citizens who would never themselves have approved or engaged in, the activites that Al Capone and his fellow gangsters made infamous. They simply wanted a drink. In order to have a drink, they had to break the law. Prohbition didnt stop drinkin. It did convert a lot of otherwise law-obedient citizens into lawbreakers. It did suppress many of the disciplinary forces of the market that ordinarily protect the consumer from shoddy, adulterated, and dangerous products. It did corrupt the minions of the law and create a decadent moral climate. It did not stop the consumption of alcohol.

"If the government is to try and ban private consumption of alcohol and tobacco, it must surely ban such activities as hang-gliding, skiing, rock-climbing and so on. Where should it stop? Rugby? American Football? Ice Hockey?
Insofar as the government has information not generally available about the merits or demerits of the items we ingest or the activities we engage in, let it give us the information. But let it leave us free to choose what chances we want to take with our own lives."
        - Free To Choose

"The long-range sloution to high unemployment is to increase the incentive for ordinary people to save, invest, work, and employ others. We make it costly for employers to employ people; we subsidize people not to go to work We have a system that increasingly taxes work and subsidizes nonwork."
        - article in US News & World Report (March, 1977)

"Inflation is taxation without legislation."
        - Milton Friedman

"I bet you anything I could destroy Milton Friedman in a debate about economics — so long as the audience was comprised of five year olds."
        - Jonah Goldberg, "National Review"

"I love Milton Friedman. He's my favourite economist!"
"You have a favourite economist?"
        - Alex P Keaton meets a like mind, "Family Ties"

"When the United States was formed in 1776, it took 19 people on the farm to produce enough food for 20 people. So most of the people had to spend their time and efforts on growing food. Today, it's down to 1% or 2% to produce that food. Now just consider the vast amount of supposed unemployment that was produced by that. But there wasn't really any unemployment produced. What happened was that people who had formerly been tied up working in agriculture were freed by technological developments and improvements to do something else. That enabled us to have a better standard of living and a more extensive range of products."

"Had drugs been decriminalized, crack would never have been invented and there would today be fewer addicts... The ghettos would not be drug-and-crime-infested no-man's lands... Colombia, Bolivia and Peru would not be suffering from narco-terror, and we would not be distorting our foreign policy because of it."


From an interview for Hillsdale College

Self interest is what the individual wants.
        - Milton Friedman

I think that nothing is so important for freedom as recognizing in the law each individual’s natural right to property, and giving individuals a sense that they own something that they’re responsible for, that they have control over, and that they can dispose of.
        - Milton Friedman

"In the field of medical care. We have a socialist-communist system of distributing medical care. Instead of letting people hire their own physicians and pay them, no one pays his or her own medical bills. Instead, there's a third party payment system. It is a communist system and it has a communist result. Despite this, we've had numerous miracles in medical science. From the discovery of penicillin, to new surgical techniques, to MRIs and CAT scans, the last 30 or 40 years have been a period of miraculous change in medical science. On the other hand, we've seen costs skyrocket. Nobody is happy: physicians don't like it, patients don't like it. Why? Because none of them are responsible for themselves. You no longer have a situation in which a patient chooses a physician, receives a service, gets charged, and pays for it. There is no direct relation between the patient and the physician. The physician is an employee of an insurance company or an employee of the government. Today, a third party pays the bills. As a result, no one who visits the doctor asks what the charge is going to be—somebody else is going to take care of that. The end result is third party payment and, worst of all, third party treatment."
        - Milton Friedman

"In Free to Choose, in the chapter on 'The Tyranny of Controls', you argue that protectionism and government intervention in general breed conflict and that free markets breed cooperation. How do you reconcile this statement with the fact that we think of free markets as being competitive?"
"They are competitive, but they are competitive over a broad range. The question is, how do you make money in a free market? You only make money if you can provide someone with something he or she is willing to pay for. You can't make money any other way. Therefore, in order to make money, you have to promote cooperation. You have to do something that your customer wants you to do. You don't do it because he orders you to. You don't do it because he threatens to hit you over the head if you don't. You do it because you offer him a better deal than he can get anywhere else. Now that's promoting cooperation. But there are other people who are trying to sell to him, too. They're your competitors. So there is competition among sellers, but cooperation between sellers and buyers."
        - Milton Friedman, interviewd by Larry Arnn for "Hillsdale College"

"Although you discuss many policy issues in Free to Choose, you have turned much of your attention to education, and to vouchers as a method of education reform. Why is that your focus?"
"I don't see how we can maintain a decent society if we have a world split into haves and have-nots, with the haves subsidizing the have-nots. In our current educational system, close to 30 percent of the youngsters who start high school never finish. They are condemned to low-income jobs. They are condemned to a situation in which they are going to be at the bottom. That leads in turn to a divisive society; it leads to a stratified society rather than one of general cooperation and general understanding. The effective literacy rate in the United States today is almost surely less than it was 100 years ago. Before government had any involvement in education, the majority of youngsters were schooled, literate, and able to learn. It is a disgrace that in a country like the United States, 30 percent of youngsters never graduate from high school. And I haven't even mentioned those who drop out in elementary school. It's a disgrace that there are so many people who can't read and write. It's hard for me to see how we can continue to maintain a decent and free society if a large subsection of that society is condemned to poverty and to handouts."
        - Milton Friedman, interviewd by Larry Arnn for "Hillsdale College"

"The president of the National Education Association was once asked when his union was going to do something about students. He replied that when the students became members of the union, the union would take care of them. And that was a correct answer. Why? His responsibility as president of the NEA was to serve the members of his union, not to serve public purposes. I give him credit: The trade union has been very effective in serving its members. However, in the process, they've destroyed American education. But you see, education isn't the union's function. It's our fault for allowing the union to pursue its agenda. Consider this fact: There are two areas in the United States that suffer from the same disease—education is one and health care is the other. They both suffer from the disease that takes a system that should be bottom-up and converts it into a system that is top-down. Education is a simple case. It isn't the public purpose to build brick schools and have students taught there. The public purpose is to provide education. Think of it this way: If you want to subsidize the production of a product, there are two ways you can do it. You can subsidize the producer or you can subsidize the consumer. In education, we subsidize the producer—the school. If you subsidize the student instead—the consumer—you will have competition. The student could choose the school he attends and that would force schools to improve and to meet the demands of their students."
        - Milton Friedman, interviewd by Larry Arnn for "Hillsdale College"


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