Gary M. Galles - Contributor
Galles is a professor of econmics at Pepperdine University. [go
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from Milton Friedman...
[Gary M. Galles] 7/30/04
our founders, who created the first government ever devoted
to liberty. But we give too little credit to those
who have defended the liberty they bequeathed us. On July 31,
remember the 92nd birthday of one of them--Milton Friedman. As
Ed Crane put it, "when you ask which academic did the most
to promote human liberty around the world during the 20th century,
there is no debate. Milton Friedman wins hands down. He is the
living symbol of freedom."
own words, "My
central theme in public advocacy has been the promotion of human
freedom." He has continued to fan the flame of liberty,
contrasting the invisible hand of voluntary social coordination with the visible
hand of government:
Fundamentally, there are only two ways of coordinating the economic
activities of millions. One is central direction involving
the use of coercion...The other is voluntary cooperation of
of social organization is how to set up an arrangement under
which greed will do the least harm; capitalism
kind of a system.
The possibility of co-ordination through voluntary co-operation
rests on the elementary...proposition that both parties to an
economic transaction benefit from it...Exchange can therefore
bring about coordination without coercion. A working model of
a society organized through voluntary exchange is the free private
enterprise exchange economy.
virtue of a free market system is that it does not care what
color people are; it does not care what their religion
is; it only cares whether they can produce something you
want to buy. It is the most effective system we have discovered
enable people who hate one another to...help one another.
has three primary functions. It should provide for military
defense of the nation. It should
between individuals. It should protect citizens against crimes
against themselves or their property.
When government...tries to rearrange the economy, legislate
morality, or help special interests, the costs come in inefficiency,
lack of innovation, and loss of freedom. Government should be
a referee, not an active player.
...governmental measures taken with good intentions and for
good purposes often, if not typically, go astray and do harm
instead of good...There are many causes for the loss of freedom,
but surely a major cause has been the growth of government...
unresolved problem of the day is precisely the problem that
concerned the founders of this nation-how to limit the scope
and power of government...Tyranny, restrictions on human freedom,
come primarily from governmental restrictions that we ourselves
have set up.
with the Visible Hand:
solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem.
Wherever the state undertakes to control in detail the economic
activities of its citizens...[they] have little power to control
their own destiny.
Most of the energy of political work is devoted to correcting
the effects of mismanagement of government.
Many people want the government to protect the consumer. A much
more urgent problem is to protect the consumer from the government.
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.
Only government can take perfectly good paper, cover it with
perfectly good ink, and make the combination worthless.
put the federal government in charge of the Sahara desert,
in 5 years there would be a shortage of sand.
One Hand; On the Other:
advances of civilization...have never come from centralized
Anything that government can do, private enterprise can do for
half the cost.
If you spend your own money on yourself, you are very concerned
about how much is spent and how it is spent... However, if you
spend someone else's money on someone else, you are not very
concerned about how much is spent, or how it is spent.
The United States has continued to progress...the product of
the initiative and drive of individuals co-operating through
the free market. Government measures have hampered, not helped,
this development. We have been able to afford and surmount these
measures only because of the extraordinary fecundity of the market.
The invisible hand has been more potent for progress than the
visible hand for retrogression.
Milton Friedman has long argued cogently and forcefully for freedom, because "economic
freedom is an end unto itself...Economic freedom is also an indispensable means
toward the achievement of political freedom." He has recognized that "Underlying
most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself," and
has marshaled reams of logic and evidence to demonstrate that such unbelief
is unfounded. On his 92nd birthday, give him the present of taking his lessons
on liberty to heart. CRO
2004 Gary M. Galles