Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined.”     Patrick Henry

November 19, 2007

Milton Friedman and the Power of Choice

by Stephen Littau

Just over one year ago, the world lost perhaps the greatest economist of his generation. Milton Friedman had the ability to explain complex economic theories to the average person. I just recently watched his 1980 (and updated 1990) PBS series Free to Choose (based on a book Friedman had published with the same title). I cannot recommend this series enough to both proponents and critics of capitalism. If you can watch this series and still hold on to the notion that capitalism is not morally superior to any other economic system, then you are beyond hope.

http://www.businessinnovationinsider.com/Milton%20Friedman%202.jpg

In the 1990 updated version, Friedman discussed the power of the free market, tyranny of control, the Great Depression*, how cradle to grave “entitlement” programs harm the economy, equality, inflation, and much more. After each episode, Friedman discussed his theories with distinguished guests such as Donald Rumsfeld (mostly a critic of Friedman), Walter Williams, and Thomas Sowell.

Friedman’s thesis is that capitalism boils down to one important concept: choice. The ability for the individual to choose where to live, where to work, where to send his children to school, etc. makes all the difference between freedom/prosperity and tyranny/poverty. Economic freedom is every bit as important as any other freedom.

Though Milton Friedman has left us over a year ago his important work lives on. Its up to us to make sure what he taught us isn’t lost to future generations.

Watch the entire Free to Choose series at this link: http://ideachannel.tv/

*Friedman explains why the Great Depression was not a failure of capitalism but the result of government manipulation.

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3 Comments

  1. “Free to Choose” the book was written after “Free to Choose” the PBS television series was produced by Free to Choose Enterprise.

    Comment by Amy — November 19, 2007 @ 12:49 pm
  2. I’ve been watching the series on the DVDs I ordered from that link and they’re great. The second half of each episode so far has a Q&A where Friedman absolutely demolishes every advocate for government intervention in the free market. The high point so far has to be watching the union official in episode 2 (“The Tyranny of Control”) use the movie “Rollerball” as a reason that we can’t trust free markets only to watch Friedman use a real life example, Hong Kong, to discredit and smack him down. It’s a great series.

    Comment by UCrawford — November 19, 2007 @ 1:59 pm
  3. Sadly, Friedman’s Withholding Tax, is one of those “important works” that lives on, and I have a tough time forgetting about that…every paycheck I am reminded.

    Comment by C Bowen — November 20, 2007 @ 2:02 pm

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