Milton Friedman

Liberty Quotation: Milton Friedman on How to Judge Policies and Programs

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Milton Friedman“One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.”

Milton Friedman, in an interview with Richard Heffner [1975]

Liberty Quotation: Milton Friedman on the Four Ways to Spend Money

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Milton Friedman“There are four ways in which you can spend money.  You can spend your own money on yourself.  When you do that, why then you really watch out what you’re doing, and you try to get the most for your money.  Then you can spend your own money on somebody else.  For example, I buy a birthday present for someone.  Well, then I’m not so careful about the content of the present, but I’m very careful about the cost.  Then, I can spend somebody else’s money on myself.  And if I spend somebody else’s money on myself, then I’m sure going to have a good lunch!  Finally, I can spend somebody else’s money on somebody else.  And if I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get.  And that’s government.  And that’s close to 40% of our national income.”

Milton Friedman, in a Fox News interview in May 2004

Liberty Quotation: Milton Friedman on the Great Advances of Civilization

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Milton Friedman“The great advances of civilization, whether in architecture or painting, in science or literature, in industry or agriculture, have never come from centralized government.  Columbus did not set out to seek a new route to China in response to a majority directive of a parliament, though he was partly financed by an absolute monarch.  Newton and Leibnitz; Einstein and Bohr; Shakespeare, Milton, and Pasternak; Whitney, McCormick, Edison, and Ford; Jane Addams, Florence Nightingale, and Albert Schweitzer; no one of these opened new frontiers in human knowledge and understanding, in literature, in technical possibilities, or in the relief of human misery in response to governmental directives.   Their achievements were the product of individual genius, of strongly held minority views, of a social climate permitting variety and diversity.  Government can never duplicate the variety and diversity of individual action.”

Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom  [1962]

Liberty Quotation of the Day: Milton Friedman on the Two Ways to Coordinate Economic Activity

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Milton Friedman“Fundamentally, there are only two ways of co-ordinating the economic activities of millions.  One is central direction involving the use of coercion—the technique of the army and of the modern totalitarian state.  The other is voluntary co-operation of individuals—the technique of the market place.”

Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom [1962]

Liberty Quotation of the Day: Milton and Rose Friedman on How Government Expands by Failing

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Milton and Rose“Experience shows that once government undertakes an activity, it is seldom terminated.  The activity may not live up to expectation but that is more likely to lead to its expansion, to its being granted a larger budget, than to its curtailment or abolition.”

Milton and Rose Friedman, Free to Choose[1980]

Liberty Quotation of the Day: Milton Friedman on Minimum Wage Laws

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Milton Friedman“Minimum wage laws are about as clear a case as one can find of a measure the effects of which are precisely the opposite of those intended by the men of good will who support it.  Many proponents of minimum wage laws quite properly deplore extremely low rates; they regard them as a sign of poverty; and they hope, by outlawing wage rates below some specified level, to reduce poverty.  In fact, insofar as minimum wage laws have any effect at all, their effect is clearly to increase poverty.  The state can legislate a minimum wage rate.  It can hardly require employers to hire at that minimum all who were formerly employed at wages below the minimum.  It is clearly not in the interest of employers to do so.  The effect of the minimum wage is therefore to make unemployment higher than it otherwise would be.”

Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom [1962]