Ten classic Milton Friedman quotes
May 3, 2015
At the Bankable Insight blog, Charles Seeburger features these ten great quotations below from Milton Friedman, along with some of his commentary following each quote here.
- Equality and Freedom. A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.
- Intentions vs. Results. One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.
- Weeds. Now here’s somebody who wants to smoke a marijuana cigarette. If he’s caught, he goes to jail. Now is that moral? Is that proper? I think it’s absolutely disgraceful that our government, supposed to be our government, should be in the position of converting people who are not harming others into criminals, of destroying their lives, putting them in jail. That’s the issue to me. The economic issue comes in only for explaining why it has those effects. But the economic reasons are not the reasons.
- Government Programs. Nothing is as permanent as a temporary government program.
- Freedom and the Free Market. Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.
- Social Responsibility of Business. There is one and only one social responsibility of business–to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud.
- Property Rights. I think that nothing is so important for freedom as recognizing in the law each individual’s natural right to property, and giving individuals a sense that they own something that they’re responsible for, that they have control over, and that they can dispose of.
- Drug Legalization. I’m in favor of legalizing drugs. According to my values system, if people want to kill themselves, they have every right to do so. Most of the harm that comes from drugs is because they are illegal.
- Internet. I think that the Internet is going to be one of the major forces for reducing the role of government.
- Greed. Well first of all, tell me: Is there some society you know that doesn’t run on greed? You think Russia doesn’t run on greed? You think China doesn’t run on greed? What is greed? Of course, none of us are greedy, it’s only the other fellow who’s greedy. The world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests. The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus. Einstein didn’t construct his theory under order from a bureaucrat. Henry Ford didn’t revolutionize the automobile industry that way. In the only cases in which the masses have escaped from the kind of grinding poverty you’re talking about, the only cases in recorded history, are where they have had capitalism and largely free trade. If you want to know where the masses are worse off, worst off, it’s exactly in the kinds of societies that depart from that. So that the record of history is absolutely crystal clear, that there is no alternative way so far discovered of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by the free-enterprise system.