Sunday, 29 April 2012

Remembering Milton Friedman

Allen R. Sanderson reflects on the contributions of Milton Friedman on the 100th anniversary of his birth in 1912 and the 50th anniversary of the publication of Friedman's classic "Capitalism and Freedom."

The World According to Chairman Friedman
  1. Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it.
  2. History suggests that capitalism is a necessary condition for political freedom. Clearly it is not a sufficient condition.
  3. The problem of social organization is how to set up an arrangement under which greed will do the least harm; capitalism is that kind of a system.
  4. With some notable exceptions, businessmen favor free enterprise in general but are opposed to it when it comes to themselves.
  5. The free man will ask neither what his country can do for him nor what he can do for his country.
  6. The case for prohibiting drugs is exactly as strong and as weak as the case for prohibiting people from overeating.
  7. If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there’d be a shortage of sand.
  8. Only a crisis — actual or perceived — produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around.


dragonfly said...

Number 5 is pretty good.

Paul Walker said...

From the Introduction to "Capitalism and Freedom"

"The free man will ask neither what his country can do for him nor what he can do for his country. He will ask rather "What can I and my compatriots do through government" to help us discharge our individual responsibilities, to achieve our several goals and purposes, and above all, to protect our freedom? And he will accompany this question with another: How can we keep the government we create from becoming a Frankenstein that will destroy the very freedom we establish it to protect? Freedom is a rare and delicate plant. Our minds tell us, and history confirms, that the great threat to freedom is the concentration of power. Government is necessary to preserve our freedom, it is an instrument through which we can exercise our freedom; yet by concentrating power in political hands, it is also a threat to freedom. Even though the men who wield this power initially be of good will and even though they be not corrupted by the power they exercise, the power will both attract and form men of a different stamp."

See also point 1.

dragonfly said...

Yes I like number one too. Many times I have reflected on this - most recently with the Maritime Union and the Ports of Auckland issue. I've noticed that unions and churches (both the type of organisation that purports to be a force for the good) attract some really ugly people to the upper echelons of their hierarchies.

Paul Walker said...

There may be a self-selection problem: the people who want power are the very people you don't want having it.