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Milton Friedman

Birthdate: 31. July 1912
Date of death: 16. November 2006

Milton Friedman was an American economist who received the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his research on consumption analysis, monetary history and theory, and the complexity of stabilization policy. With George Stigler and others, Friedman was among the intellectual leaders of the second generation of Chicago price theory, a methodological movement at the University of Chicago's Department of Economics, Law School, and Graduate School of Business from the 1940s onward. Several students and young professors that were recruited or mentored by Friedman at Chicago went on to become leading economists; they include Gary Becker, Robert Fogel, Thomas Sowell, and Robert Lucas, Jr.

Friedman's challenges to what he later called "naive Keynesian" theory began with his 1950s reinterpretation of the consumption function. In the 1960s, he became the main advocate opposing Keynesian government policies, and described his approach as using "Keynesian language and apparatus" yet rejecting its "initial" conclusions. He theorized that there existed a "natural" rate of unemployment, and argued that employment above this rate would cause inflation to accelerate. He argued that the Phillips curve was, in the long run, vertical at the "natural rate" and predicted what would come to be known as stagflation. Friedman promoted an alternative macroeconomic viewpoint known as "monetarism", and argued that a steady, small expansion of the money supply was the preferred policy. His ideas concerning monetary policy, taxation, privatization and deregulation influenced government policies, especially during the 1980s. His monetary theory influenced the Federal Reserve's response to the global financial crisis of 2007–08.

Friedman was an advisor to Republican U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Conservative British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. His political philosophy extolled the virtues of a free market economic system with minimal intervention. He once stated that his role in eliminating U.S. conscription was his proudest accomplishment. In his 1962 book Capitalism and Freedom, Friedman advocated policies such as a volunteer military, freely floating exchange rates, abolition of medical licenses, a negative income tax, and school vouchers. His support for school choice led him to found the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, later renamed EdChoice.

Milton Friedman's works include monographs, books, scholarly articles, papers, magazine columns, television programs, and lectures, and cover a broad range of economic topics and public policy issues. His books and essays have had global influence, including in former communist states. A survey of economists ranked Friedman as the second-most popular economist of the twentieth century after John Maynard Keynes, and The Economist described him as "the most influential economist of the second half of the 20th century ... possibly of all of it".

Works

Quotes Milton Friedman

„I am in favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it's possible.“

—  Milton Friedman

As quoted in Conservatives Betrayed: How George W. Bush and other big government Republicans hijacked the conservative cause (2006) by Richard A Viguerie, p. 46 <!-- similar to statement previously dated (16 September 2003) — but linked page indicates "interview" by John Hawkins dated 25 February 2012 http://www.rightwingnews.com/interviews/friedman.php : I am in favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it's possible. … because I believe the big problem is not taxes, the big problem is spending. The question is, "How do you hold down government spending?" Government spending now amounts to close to 40% of national income not counting indirect spending through regulation and the like. If you include that, you get up to roughly half. The real danger we face is that number will creep up and up and up. The only effective way I think to hold it down, is to hold down the amount of income the government has. The way to do that is to cut taxes. -->
Context: I am in favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it's possible. … because I believe the big problem is not taxes, the big problem is spending. I believe our government is too large and intrusive, that we do not get our money's worth for the roughly 40 percent of our income that is spent by government … How can we ever cut government down to size? I believe there is one and only one way: the way parents control spendthrift children, cutting their allowance. For government, that means cutting taxes.

„Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.“

—  Milton Friedman

Tyranny of the Status Quo, San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (1980) p. 115

„The true test of any scholar's work is not what his contemporaries say, but what happens to his work in the next 25 or 50 years.“

—  Milton Friedman

As quoted in The Power of Choice (January 2007)
Context: The true test of any scholar's work is not what his contemporaries say, but what happens to his work in the next 25 or 50 years. And the thing that I will really be proud of is if some of the work I have done is still cited in the text books long after I am gone.

„History suggests only that capitalism is a necessary condition for political freedom. Clearly it is not a sufficient condition.“

—  Milton Friedman, book Capitalism and Freedom

Source: Capitalism and Freedom (1962), Ch. 1 The Relation Between Economic Freedom and Political Freedom, 2002 edition, page 10
Context: Because we live in a largely free society, we tend to forget how limited is the span of time and the part of the globe for which there has ever been anything like : the typical state of mankind is tyranny, servitude, and misery. The nineteenth century and early twentieth century in the Western world stand out as striking exceptions to the general trend of historical development. Political freedom in this instance clearly came along with the free market and the development of capitalist institutions. So also did political freedom in the golden age of Greece and in the early days of the Roman era.
History suggests only that capitalism is a necessary condition for political freedom. Clearly it is not a sufficient condition.

„Because we live in a largely free society, we tend to forget how limited is the span of time and the part of the globe for which there has ever been anything like : the typical state of mankind is tyranny, servitude, and misery.“

—  Milton Friedman, book Capitalism and Freedom

Source: Capitalism and Freedom (1962), Ch. 1 The Relation Between Economic Freedom and Political Freedom, 2002 edition, page 10
Context: Because we live in a largely free society, we tend to forget how limited is the span of time and the part of the globe for which there has ever been anything like : the typical state of mankind is tyranny, servitude, and misery. The nineteenth century and early twentieth century in the Western world stand out as striking exceptions to the general trend of historical development. Political freedom in this instance clearly came along with the free market and the development of capitalist institutions. So also did political freedom in the golden age of Greece and in the early days of the Roman era.
History suggests only that capitalism is a necessary condition for political freedom. Clearly it is not a sufficient condition.

„On the level of political principle, the imposition of taxes and the expenditure of tax proceeds are governmental functions.“

—  Milton Friedman

"The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits" in The New York Times Magazine (13 September 1970) http://www.colorado.edu/studentgroups/libertarians/issues/friedman-soc-resp-business.html
Context: On the level of political principle, the imposition of taxes and the expenditure of tax proceeds are governmental functions. We have established elaborate constitutional, parliamentary and judicial provisions to control these functions, to assure that taxes are imposed so far as possible in accordance with the preferences and desires of the public — after all, "taxation without representation" was one of the battle cries of the American Revolution. We have a system of checks and balances to separate the legislative function of imposing taxes and enacting expenditures from the executive function of collecting taxes and administering expenditure programs and from the judicial function of mediating disputes and interpreting the law.
Here the businessman — self-selected or appointed directly or indirectly by stockholders — is to be simultaneously legislator, executive and, jurist. He is to decide whom to tax by how much and for what purpose, and he is to spend the proceeds — all this guided only by general exhortations from on high to restrain inflation, improve the environment, fight poverty and so on and on.

„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

Fox News interview (May 2004)
Context: 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.

„The way you solve things is by making it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right things.“

—  Milton Friedman

About changing congress http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ac9j15eig_w (c. 1977)
Context: It's nice to elect the right people, but that isn't the way you solve things. The way you solve things is by making it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right things.

„Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon in the sense that it is and can be produced only by a more rapid increase in the quantity of money than in output.“

—  Milton Friedman

The Counter-Revolution in Monetary Theory (1970) <!-- ([[w:Institute of Economic Affairs
Context: Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon in the sense that it is and can be produced only by a more rapid increase in the quantity of money than in output. … A steady rate of monetary growth at a moderate level can provide a framework under which a country can have little inflation and much growth. It will not produce perfect stability; it will not produce heaven on earth; but it can make an important contribution to a stable economic society.

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„Unfortunately, unanimity is not always feasible.“

—  Milton Friedman

"The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits" in The New York Times Magazine (13 September 1970)
Context: The political principle that underlies the is unanimity. In an ideal free market resting on private property, no individual can coerce any other, all cooperation is voluntary, all parties to such cooperation benefit or they need not participate. There are no values, no "social" responsibilities in any sense other than the shared values and responsibilities of individuals. Society is a collection of individuals and of the various groups they voluntarily form.
The political principle that underlies the political mechanism is conformity. The individual must serve a more general social interest — whether that be determined by a church or a dictator or a majority. The individual may have a vote and say in what is to be done, but if he is overruled, he must conform. It is appropriate for some to require others to contribute to a general whether they wish to or not.
Unfortunately, unanimity is not always feasible. There are some respects in which conformity appears unavoidable, so I do not see how one can avoid the use of the political mechanism altogether.

„The case for is exactly as strong and as weak as the case for prohibiting people from overeating. We all know that overeating causes more deaths than drugs do.“

—  Milton Friedman

America's Drug Forum interview (1991)
Context: The proper role of government is exactly what John Stuart Mill said in the middle of the 19th century in On Liberty. The proper role of government is to prevent other people from harming an individual. Government, he said, never has any right to interfere with an individual for that individual's own good.
The case for is exactly as strong and as weak as the case for prohibiting people from overeating. We all know that overeating causes more deaths than drugs do. If it's in principle OK for the government to say you must not consume drugs because they'll do you harm, why isn't it all right to say you must not eat too much because you'll do harm? Why isn't it all right to say you must not try to go in for skydiving because you're likely to die? Why isn't it all right to say, "Oh, skiing, that's no good, that's a very dangerous sport, you'll hurt yourself"? Where do you draw the line?

„It's a moral problem that the government is making into criminals people, who may be doing something you and I don't approve of, but who are doing something that hurts nobody else.“

—  Milton Friedman

America's Drug Forum interview (1991)
Context: It's a moral problem that the government is making into criminals people, who may be doing something you and I don't approve of, but who are doing something that hurts nobody else. Most of the arrests for drugs are for possession by casual users.
Now here's somebody who wants to smoke a marijuana cigarette. If he's caught, he goes to jail. Now is that moral? Is that proper? I think it's absolutely disgraceful that our government, supposed to be our government, should be in the position of converting people who are not harming others into criminals, of destroying their lives, putting them in jail. That's the issue to me. The economic issue comes in only for explaining why it has those effects. But the economic reasons are not the reasons.

„The proper role of government is exactly what John Stuart Mill said in the middle of the 19th century in On Liberty. The proper role of government is to prevent other people from harming an individual.“

—  Milton Friedman

America's Drug Forum interview (1991)
Context: The proper role of government is exactly what John Stuart Mill said in the middle of the 19th century in On Liberty. The proper role of government is to prevent other people from harming an individual. Government, he said, never has any right to interfere with an individual for that individual's own good.
The case for is exactly as strong and as weak as the case for prohibiting people from overeating. We all know that overeating causes more deaths than drugs do. If it's in principle OK for the government to say you must not consume drugs because they'll do you harm, why isn't it all right to say you must not eat too much because you'll do harm? Why isn't it all right to say you must not try to go in for skydiving because you're likely to die? Why isn't it all right to say, "Oh, skiing, that's no good, that's a very dangerous sport, you'll hurt yourself"? Where do you draw the line?

„I am a libertarian with a small "l" and a Republican with a capital "R".“

—  Milton Friedman

Charlie Rose Show (November 2005) http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-921891628093252478&q=tvshow%3ACharlie_Rose
Context: I am a libertarian with a small "l" and a Republican with a capital "R". And I am a Republican with a capital "R" on grounds of expediency, not on principle.

„That was surely my greatest triumph of the year at Cambridge!“

—  Milton Friedman

Two Lucky People
Context: Joan Robinson, a leading Keynesian and radical, produced a specimen for me to analyze. I said something like, "This is obviously the writing of a foreigner, so it's difficult for me to analyze. But I would say it is written by someone who had considerable artistic but not much intellectual talent." It turned out to be the handwriting of Lydia Lopokova, the world-famous Russian ballerina whom Keynes had married. That was surely my greatest triumph of the year at Cambridge!

„There's a sense in which all taxes are antagonistic to free enterprise … and yet we need taxes.“

—  Milton Friedman

As quoted in The Times Herald, Norristown, Pennsylvania (1 December 1978)
Context: There's a sense in which all taxes are antagonistic to free enterprise … and yet we need taxes. We have to recognize that we must not hope for a Utopia that is unattainable. I would like to see a great deal less government activity than we have now, but I do not believe that we can have a situation in which we don't need government at all. We do need to provide for certain essential government functions — the national defense function, the police function, preserving law and order, maintaining a judiciary. So the question is, which are the least bad taxes? In my opinion the least bad tax is the property tax on the unimproved value of land, the Henry George argument of many, many years ago.

„In my opinion the least bad tax is the property tax on the unimproved value of land, the Henry George argument of many, many years ago.“

—  Milton Friedman

As quoted in The Times Herald, Norristown, Pennsylvania (1 December 1978)
Context: There's a sense in which all taxes are antagonistic to free enterprise … and yet we need taxes. We have to recognize that we must not hope for a Utopia that is unattainable. I would like to see a great deal less government activity than we have now, but I do not believe that we can have a situation in which we don't need government at all. We do need to provide for certain essential government functions — the national defense function, the police function, preserving law and order, maintaining a judiciary. So the question is, which are the least bad taxes? In my opinion the least bad tax is the property tax on the unimproved value of land, the Henry George argument of many, many years ago.

„I want people to take thought about their condition and to recognize that the maintenance of a free society is a very difficult and complicated thing and it requires a self-denying ordinance of the most extreme kind.“

—  Milton Friedman

Interview with on The Open Mind (7 December 1975)
Context: I want people to take thought about their condition and to recognize that the maintenance of a free society is a very difficult and complicated thing and it requires a self-denying ordinance of the most extreme kind. It requires a willingness to put up with temporary evils on the basis of the subtle and sophisticated understanding that if you step in to do something about them you not only may make them worse, you will spread your tentacles and get bad results elsewhere.

„Only a crisis—actual or perceived—produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around.“

—  Milton Friedman, book Capitalism and Freedom

Preface (1982 edition), p. ix
Capitalism and Freedom (1962)
Context: There is enormous inertia—a tyranny of the status quo—in private and especially governmental arrangements. Only a crisis—actual or perceived—produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes politically inevitable.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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