100 years of ‘Capitalism and Freedom’

100 years of ‘Capitalism and Freedom’

July 31, 2012

By Katy Grimes

As free marketeers celebrate famed Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman’s 100 birthday today, revisiting Friedman’s 1979 interview with Phil Donahue, where Friedman schooled Donahue, a 1970’s liberal television talk show host, on capitalism. This is an important reminder of why we fight for the free market.

Friedman, born July 31, 1912, and died November 16, 2006, easily dispelled the common liberal notion that capitalists are greedy, and demonstrated to Donahue how manipulated America has become by anti-free market government forces.

Donahue asked Friedman if the maldistribution of wealth, the haves and have nots, and greed, a good idea to run countries on?

Friedman asked Donahue if he thought Russia, China or the rest of the world doesn’t run on greed?

“The masses are worst off in the kinds of societies that depart from capitalism, and free enterprise,” Friedman said.

“But it seems to reward not virtue as much as it does the ability to manipulate the system,” said Donahue.

“And what does reward virtue?” asked Friedman. “Does a communist commisary reward virtue? You think a Hitler rewards virture?”

This short video clip is as important today as it was in 1979. Enjoy Milton Friedman – Greed.

And remember that “A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.”

A few more of my favorite Friedman quotes:

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

* “Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.”

* “I am in favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it’s possible.”

* The economic miracle that has been the United States was not produced by socialized enterprises, by government-union-industry cartels or by centralized economic planning. It was produced by private enterprises in a profit-and-loss system. And losses were at least as important in weeding out failures as profits in fostering successes. Let government succor failures, and we shall be headed for stagnation and decline.

* “There is all the difference in the world, however, between two kinds of assistance through government that seem superficially similar: first, 90 percent of us agreeing to impose taxes on ourselves in order to help the bottom 10 percent, and second, 80 percent voting to impose taxes on the top 10 percent to help the bottom 10 percent — William Graham Sumner’s famous example of B and C decided what D shall do for A. The first may be wise or unwise, an effective or ineffective way to help the disadvantaged — but it is consistent with belief in both equality of opportunity and liberty. The second seeks equality of outcome and is entirely antithetical to liberty.”

*  “Many people want the government to protect the consumer. A much more urgent problem is to protect the consumer from the government.”

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

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  1. Barb
    Barb 31 July, 2012, 13:02

    Excellent piece Ms. Grimes! Yes, I still marvel at his genious! Unfortunately, it is the concept of free-markets and capitalism as Mr.Freidman constantly gleaned from that many seem to ignore or remain misinformed.

    A simple lesson in macroeconomics would cure this!

    Reply this comment
    NTHEOC 31 July, 2012, 19:38

    Katy grimes says,
    The economic miracle that has been the United States was not produced by socialized enterprises, by government-union-industry cartels or by centralized economic planning. It was produced by private enterprises in a profit-and-loss system.
    And then those private enterprises began to put mass amounts of money into politics! They started to buy and fund politicians in return they get rewarded with huge govt contracts,tax breaks,changing of laws to benefit them, and a slew of other backdoor deals. They became greedy and started to maxamize their profits on the backs of the workers. The motto “profit before people” is now in full affect!! Well now we have the last of the middle class workers in the public sector fighting for the middle class survival!!

    Reply this comment
  3. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 1 August, 2012, 06:31

    NTHEOC – you are correct that some of the private corporations became greedy. In a real free market, without all of the government intervention, consumers would have made the decisions about that greedy corporation. But when the government intervenes, it throws the balance out of whack and essentially removes some of the consumers’ power to choose.

    The argument that ‘private industry is greedy’ is not accurate. Many of those corporations were forced into cost-cutting survival modes because of hefty regulatory burdens placed on them by governments. In California, it no longer is possible to be a profitable manufacturer because of the regulatory environment: air quality restrictions, EPA and Cal EPA, water restrictions, OSHA and Cal OSHA, environmentalist restrictions, unfair labor laws… this is the primary why businesses are closing down, moving, or squeezing.


    Reply this comment
  4. Barb
    Barb 1 August, 2012, 08:25

    Yes, it’s called cronyism and just to understand, here is an excellent article explaining what happens in government intervention:


    There have been alot of glaring examples of late, with Solyndra standing out! GM is another!

    Reply this comment

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