Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Milton Friedman on Government

6 comments:

rentah said...

Libertarian joke (attributed to Robert Anton Wilson):

Little Tony was sitting on a park bench munching on one candy bar after another. After the 6th candy bar, a man on the bench across from him said, “Son, you know eating all that candy isn’t good for you. It will give you acne, rot your teeth, and make you fat.”

Little Tony replied, “My grandfather lived to be 107 years old.”

The man asked, “Did your grandfather eat 6 candy bars at a time?”

Little Tony replied, “No, he minded his own f*ck!ng business.”

-\/- said...

Great post, very interesting.
Great joke Rentah.....

M- said...

Wow, Friedman was pretty harshly anti-government/anti-tax. That was a long interview...

mohican said...

I find it interesting how the ideas he is talking about are not discussed today. We have two generations of Canadians who have lived with the current government interference for their entire lives and they can't remember what it was like to be a country without our current social programs. I have a deep sympathy for the less fortunate in our society and I feel that much of the interference of the state is actually counterproductive to solving the proglems we face. I'd love to hear more solutions that don't involve another social program or government bailout.

Ulsterman said...

It's certainly a complex issue, and one without absolute answers - regardless of what anyone says.

For example the native issue:

One side of me feels that the Canadian government has fallen over backwards to provide free this and that to these people. I want to tell them to get over the past injustices and ride the freebies they get to the fullest success. Hell, the Chinese can in as very much second-class citizdens and "pulled themselves up by the bootstraps" etc etc. They certainly don't have the reputation as drunks and lazy scallywags etc.

HOWEVER, a friend of mine who works in social work tells me to consider what it would be like to always be seen as a second-class citizen, one whom people don't want to employ because they perceive all natives to be drunken bums etc etc. How would i have fared if i had grown up with this stereotype hanging over my every job application etc???

I've no idea, but what i do know is that i really don't know the true answer and solution to this intractible mess.

It's easy for people (like me) who grew up with advantages to think that everyone starts with an equal opportunity. It's not always that easy

Clarke said...

Friedman is an old school monetarist who did well for himself partly because he told rich people what they wanted to hear. Canada's experiment with extreme monetarism in the 80s and 90s was not exactly a stirring success. On the international scene, there is little example of successful economic development through the blind following of free market theory.

I think it is important to address "old school" because Friedman really was not advocating much in society that had not already been done. Prior to the great depression, most of the western world did follow a limited government, limited regulation, low tax model. It is safe to say that there were more than a few hiccups in the system. Government intervention in the economy and the welfare state came about for obvious reasons, and it was not the result of some secret cabal of Keynsians......

It is easy to decry government failures to address social problems through social programs and yearn for market based solutions. This tends to ignore the fact that many of these problems are the logical result of a functioning unrestrained free market. Friedman's writings on this are pretty consistent. He does not care. Business exists to make money and does not have any other function. Social responsibility is a dangerous idea, and business does not have any overarching goal to be a collective vehicle to advance society or its aspirations. In fact, society is in of itself a dangerous concept that does not really exist. All we are is a bunch of individuals each trying to maximize our own returns, and this is best done with an absolute minimum of government interference.

In University I studied this stuff for years and it never ceases to amuse how people actually buy into this nonsense.