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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

MIlton Friedman's birthday

There are so many excellent quotations from Milton Friedman that it's impossible to choose - I've included a few below, but feel free to add more in the comments.

Government has three primary functions. It should provide for military defense of the nation. It should enforce contracts between individuals. It should protect citizens from crimes against themselves or their property. When government-- in pursuit of good intentions tries to rearrange the economy, legislate morality, or help special interests, the cost come in inefficiency, lack of motivation, and loss of freedom. Government should be a referee, not an active player.

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

The great virtue of a free market system is that it does not care what color people are; it does not care what their religion is; it only cares whether they can produce something you want to buy. 

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

Most of the energy of political work is devoted to correcting the effects of mismanagement of government

I would cut the real taxes borne by the American people by cutting all government spending ten percent across the board. 

I am favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it's possible.

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

One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.

~ Milton Friedman (wiki) (variously attributed) 

The long-term solution to [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, and we subsidize people not to go to work. We have a system that taxes work and subsidizes nonwork.*

~ Friedman (in U.S. News and World Report, 7 March 1977) 

Today is the anniversary of the birth of Nobel prize-winning American economist Milton Friedman (wiki) (1912-2006) in Brooklyn, New York. Friedman studied at Rutgers, Chicago, and Columbia and earned his Ph.D. in 1946. He was widely regarded as the leader of the "Chicago School" of monetary economics, which stressed the quantity of money as the cause of business cycles and inflation and thus the importance of government monetary policy. 

With his wife, Rose D. Friedman, he wrote many books and a series of columns for Newsweek between 1966 and 1983, also serving as an advisor to President Reagan from 1981 to 1989. Friedman received his Nobel prize in 1977 for his contributions to quantitative economic science. He is also credited with the well-known observation, "There's no such thing as a free lunch," but in fact it probably appeared in common parlance after the "free lunch" became customary fare in saloons around 1840 - when you had to buy a beer to obtain it. The Chicago-school economists began using this phrase regularly in articles and speeches in the 1970s. 

Be that as it may, Friedman did note in his book, Capitalism and Freedom,

"History suggests that capitalism is a necessary condition for political freedom. Clearly it is not a sufficient condition."

* N.B. But I would add that "nonwork" includes the fiscal chicanery and crony capitalism that merely moves money around without producing any tangible product - to the enormous financial advantage of the movers.

There are a lot of videos of Friedman discussing various topics - below are a few short ones that give you a feel for him and his policies:

On greed:


Why drugs should be legalized:


On the minimum wage:


Socialism is force:


Responsibility to the poor:


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