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Milton Friedman Dead at 94

One of the greatest minds this world has ever known has died. Milton Friedman was a brilliant economist who argued passionately for free markets.

The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) has a piece called "Milton Friedman: In his Own Words." Here's a portion:

[A free economy] gives people what they want instead of what a particular group thinks they ought to want. Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.

The existence of a free market does not of course eliminate the need for government. On the contrary, government is essential both as a forum for determining the "rules of the game" and as an umpire to interpret and enforce the rules decided on. What the market does is to reduce greatly the range of issues that must be decided through political means, and thereby to minimize the extent to which government need participate directly in the game. The characteristic feature of action through political channels is that it tends to require or enforce substantial conformity. The great advantage of the market, on the other hand, is that it permits wide diversity. It is, in political terms, a system of proportional representation. Each man can vote, as it were, for the color of tie he wants and get it; he does not have to see what color-the majority wants and then, if he is in the minority, submit.

It is this feature of the market that we refer to when we say that the market provides economic freedom. But this characteristic also has implications that go far beyond the narrowly economic. Political freedom means the absence of coercion of a man by his fellow men. The fundamental threat to freedom is power to coerce, be it in the hands of a monarch, a dictator, an oligarchy, or a momentary majority. The preservation of freedom requires the elimination of such concentration of power to the fullest possible extent and the dispersal and distribution of whatever power cannot be eliminated -- a system of checks and balances. By removing the organization of economic activity from the control of political authority, the market eliminates this source of coercive power. It enables economic strength to be a check to political power rather than a reinforcement.

The far leftists in this country are against free markets because they are convinced that the American people must be told what they need because they're not smart enough to figure that out on their own.

Here's video of Mr. Friedman making the case for limited government. I'd say our Republican party needs to watch this for a refresher:


Hat tip: Hot Air

Update: John Hawkins interviewed Mr. Friedman back in 2003, and links to it again in memory of Mr. Friedman's death. It's a must read.


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Comments (6)

My condolences to his famil... (Below threshold)

My condolences to his family and friends.

He was a great man, and a seminal figure in the history of economics. He made the world a better place.

He will be sadly missed, but his legacy lives on.

Rest in peace, Dr. Friedman.

What an incredible mind. A... (Below threshold)

What an incredible mind. As Kim said, the GOP would do well to refer to Friedman for a refresher. Actually, those of all political persuasions would.

Friedman writes;<i... (Below threshold)

Friedman writes;

"The fundamental threat to freedom is power to coerce, be it in the hands of a monarch, a dictator, an oligarchy, or a momentary majority. The preservation of freedom requires the elimination of such concentration of power to the fullest possible extent and the dispersal and distribution of whatever power cannot be eliminated -- a system of checks and balances."

This is precisley why we take issues like the Unitary Executive concept, media conglomeration, obstruction by secracy, and single party rule so seriously.

Friedman is of course correct. It would be incorrect to say that Friedman does not speak to the left. In fact, this is Progressive philosophy, directly from the minds of the founders of our country, but we can all share and learn from what he had to say.


Milton Friedman was a brill... (Below threshold)

Milton Friedman was a brilliant man. I still remember studying his theories and concepts in college.

Friedman made incredible co... (Below threshold)

Friedman made incredible contributions to the welfare of the American public. He will be quickly missed, and fondly remembered for a long, long time.

Re: John,I'm assum... (Below threshold)

Re: John,

I'm assuming your the same John that typically takes a 'liberal' stance in many of his posts.

If my assumption is correct, I'd like to hear you reconcile your quoting of Freidman with the following.

The minimum wage constitutes government coercion against both employers and employees. By mandating a certain level of wages, the government violates the rights of both employers and employees to reach a voluntary agreement based on their own independent judgment of what is in their best interest.

Those who provide jobs have a right to set the wages they are willing to pay. And those who are willing and eager to work for relatively low wages--either because they are unskilled, inexperienced or would rather have a low-paying job than no job--have a right to do so.

In a capitalist system, the price of labor (i.e., wages) is determined in the same way as all other prices and as it should be: by the individual judgments and voluntary decisions of buyers and sellers.
- David Holcberg

Does a government mandated minimum wage not constitute a coercion of the kind which your quote of Friedman spoke against ?

If your a different John, I apologize for the confusion.






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