Monday, February 4, 2013

Freedom the Choose: a personal statement by Milton and Rose Friedman

After reading Friedman's argument in favor of free market capitalism and his call for the curtailing of government interference of imposing price limits and other market oversights, I realized that my education is lacking.  After reading this book, I realized that my liberal arts education left out important tools to navigate through our economy.  The book gave context to how one fits into the economic world, how one makes a living.  Perhaps, had I been educated differently I would not necessarily be in a liberal arts profession today, that I would be able to navigate in the world of business!  One's education should include at least a discussion of economic models of collectivism and individualism, of socialism and of capitalism.  One would be in a better position to make decisions about one's economic life.

This book makes a cogent argument against collectivism.  Historically, Friedman shows that freedom is greatest in free markets and he is a believer in market corrections.  He argues that our republic rarely allows for market corrections and instead relies on government to make corrections that ultimately fail miserably.  Government controls increase government power and restricts one's personal freedom.

He argues that government gets involved when the market experiences a tragedy  and instead of allowing for obvious market correction, emotions run high and form public opinion demanding an emotional response.  For example, he cites the best seller by Ralph Nader, Unsafe at any speed as an example of exploiting a tragedy and driving public opinion to bring on government controls in the auto industry.  Friedman cites studies showing that the GM Corvair was actually not an unsafe car!  Instead of allowing one to choose to drive or not to drive a Corvair, allowing for one's personal choice and freedom, the car was banned.

Despite the fact that it was written over thirty years ago, the book helps to clarify much of the discussions today: to grow the government through spending or curtail the growth of government through program cutting etc.  Friedman is a firm believer that the former approach will ultimately restrict one's personal freedoms.

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