Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Milton Friedman, at 100, Dissects Today's Economic Chaos

Ideas that stand the test of time are far greater than physical structures that do the same, for they become a permanent flash of brilliance that illuminates the thoughts of the generations of creators that follow.

I give you some words by the great economist Milton Friedman, who would have turned 100 today:

The case for free enterprise, for competition, is that it’s the only system that will keep the capitalists from having too much power. There’s the old saying, “If you want to catch a thief, set a thief to catch him.” The virtue of free enterprise capitalism is that it sets one businessman against another and it’s a most effective device for control.

I think a major reason why intellectuals tend to move towards collectivism is that the collectivist answer is a simple one. If there’s something wrong, pass a law and do something about it.

The two chief enemies of the free society or free enterprise are intellectuals on the one hand and businessmen on the other, for opposite reasons. Every intellectual believes in freedom for himself, but he’s opposed to freedom for others.…He thinks…there ought to be a central planning board that will establish social priorities.…The businessmen are just the opposite—every businessman is in favor of freedom for everybody else, but when it comes to himself that’s a different question. He’s always the special case. He ought to get special privileges from the government, a tariff, this, that, and the other thing

That's all from 1974, mind you, but he could have spoken those words yesterday, from our liberal elites trying to take over every aspect of our own lives (for our own good, of course) to the rent-seeking GM's and GE's who are working hand-in-hand with the socialist Left in exchange for the government squashing the competition.

Friedman, not surprisingly, was influenced by another philosopher who is holding sway today, many years after her death:

Socialism is not a movement of the people. It is a movement of the intellectuals, originated, led and controlled by the intellectuals, carried by them out of their stuffy ivory towers into those bloody fields of practice where they unite with their allies and executors: the thugs
~Ayn Rand

Final thought from Milt:

Indeed, a major source of objection to a free economy is precisely that it...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.

And one more:

The U.S. economy is capable of very good growth provided the government keeps its hands off. Unfortunately, there’s a strong propensity for the government to do things that are harmful rather than helpful..The function of the entrepreneur is to take risks, and if he’s forced not to take risks and to spend on accountants rather than products, the economy is not going to expand or grow.

Somewhere, one Barack Hussein Obama grows red with rage, as he is proven again to be at best an intellectual dilettante, at worst a fool.

And somewhere else, Paul Krugman turns green with envy, as he realizes none of the inane rubbish that spews forth from his obscene piehole will ever be treated with the respect or reverence given to the philosophies of "Uncle Milt"...

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