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Milton Friedman quotes

Here are some great quotes by Milton Friedman which describe some of the biggest problems in modern society.

The greatest advances of civilization, whether in architecture or painting, in science and literature, in industry or agriculture, have never come from centralized government.

The most important single central fact about a free market is that no exchange takes place unless both parties benefit.

The only way that has ever been discovered to have a lot of people cooperate together voluntarily is through the free market. And that’s why it’s so essential to preserving individual freedom.

If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there’d be a shortage of sand.

Is it really true that political self-interest is nobler somehow than economic self-interest?

Many people want the government to protect the consumer. A much more urgent problem is to protect the consumer from the government.

Most economic fallacies derive from the tendency to assume that there is a fixed pie, that one party can gain only at the expense of another.

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 a free enterprise system.

The black market was a way of getting around government controls. It was a way of enabling the free market to work. It was a way of opening up, enabling people.

The Great Depression, like most other periods of severe unemployment, was produced by government mismanagement rather than by any inherent instability of the private economy.

4 comments to Milton Friedman quotes

  • Andrius Bentkus

    quote: The greatest advances of civilization, whether in architecture or painting, in science and literature, in industry or agriculture, have never come from centralized government.

    First of all, the technicalities, “have never come from centralized government” does not even imply that the system that Milton Friedman promotes has come up with the greatest advances of civilization, nor does it mean that the system he promotes has come up with better ideas than a centralized government.
    There is absolutely no relation of the system that he promotes and centralized government.
    Maybe there is some in the context, so I will assume that he is relating to the system he promotes, the free market with as less government as possible, and that this system is superior to the centralized government in creating advancements of civilization.

    Now we have this term of “advancements of civilizations”, it is very abstract, but just I’ll use address technical and human advancements.

    Technical advancements – they have a direct impact on our civilization most of the time in a good way – cars, plains and microwaves helped us right?
    Werner von Braun has contributed to rocket science in the USA a lot after the second world war.
    He was one of the scientists that lived through 3 types of capitalistic economical systems, Germany before Hitler, Germany during Hitler and the USA after the second world war.
    Germany during Hitler promoted technology that could have been be used for war, so the promotion of this particular field has a rather negative implication in that context.
    He was supported by the germans during the WWII, and he thrived even more while he was in the USA even more.
    He worked at NASA, the agency of the United States government, that is responsible for the nations civilian space program and aeronautics and aerospace research.
    Government had a direct impact on the Apollo missions which landed the first man on the moon and has a direct impact on space exploration.

    So what I wanted to express is that great accomplishments are not achieved by the free market system, nor by the government, it is achieved by people, technical accomplishments are achieved by scientists who are interested in a particular technical field, no matter the circumstances of the economical system they are living in.
    The system only backs them up and supports them and I have given you an example where the system behind Nazi German backed a scientist just as much up as a government in a free capitalistic market system, actually THE capitalistic market system (USA).

    • The name Nazi is short for “National Socialist.” I can say your history of their economic policies is wrong if you didn’t notice the message they sent with their choice of name.

      NASA is a good thing, but it is taking advantage of many innovations in the private sector. You can’t build rockets without a modern society. NASA is a tiny part of the federal government. The problem is not NASA, but socialized medicine, education, etc.

      I suggest you read Milton Friedman’s Free To Choose. It is a book that will explain many details and change your life. You can find a link on the left sidebar of this site.

  • Mark D

    Hmmm, sorry Milton ( and Keith), but the signal achievement of centralized government is the rule of law including the protection of private property, without which non-barter markets could never work. Friedmanite ideology aside the truth of it is that capital and government have always worked in tandem.

    • Milton Friedman is not an anarchist. He describes the contours of limited government, not zero government. His book Free To Choose is a discussion of what government should do, including protection of private property, and how to create an efficient and effective welfare net, and it is not zero pages!

      I suggest you read that book and then come back and decide as to whether he is wrong.

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