Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Milton Friedman

                The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday is the simple fact that freedom determines how well the economy runs.  The Constitution of the United States was written to protect and preserve freedom.  Economists understand the connection between freedom and economy.

                Milton Friedman was an American economist, statistician, and writer; he taught at the University of Chicago for more than thirty years.  He received the 1976 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences.  He is “known for his research on consumption analysis, monetary history and theory, and the complexity of stabilization policy.  As a leader of the Chicago school of economics, he profoundly influenced the research agenda of the economics profession.  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.’”

                Friedman was born July 31, 1912, in Brooklyn, New York, and died on November 16, 2006, in San Francisco, California.  He married Rose Director, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School.  She was born December 25, 1910, in Staryi Chortoryisk, Ukraine, and died August 18, 2009, in Davis, California.  The couple became the parents of David D. Friedman and Janet Friedman.

                Milton Friedman gave much counsel about how the economy runs well and what conditions it needs to flourish.  In honor of his 102nd birthday, the Blaze published “ten of his most timeless quotes according to readers, from his influential `Capitalism and Freedom’ “based on Amazon Kindle’s popular highlights feature.”  They are listed below “in descending order based on number of highlights.”

1.   “[Of the two key Constitutional principles for preserving freedom] [t]he second broad principle is that government power must be dispersed.”

2.   “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.”

3.   “Indeed, a major source of objection to a free economy is precisely that it does this task [protects individuals against coercion] so well.  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.”

4.   “[Of the two key Constitutional principles for preserving freedom] [f]irst, the scope of government must be limited.  Its major function must be to protect our freedom both from the enemies outside our gates and from our fellow-citizens:  to preserve law and order, to enforce private contracts, to foster competitive markets.”

5.  “To the free man, the country is the collection of individuals who compose it, not something over and above them.”

6.  “A society which is socialist cannot also be democratic, in the sense of guaranteeing individual freedom.”

7.   “The possibility of co-ordination through voluntary co-operation rests on the elementary – yet frequently denied – proposition that both parties to an economic transaction benefit from it, provided the transaction is bi-laterally voluntary and informed.”

8.  “The nineteenth-century liberal regarded an extension of freedom as the most effective way to promote welfare and equality; the twentieth-century liberal regards welfare and equality as either prerequisites of or alternatives to freedom.”

9.   “These then are the basic roles of government in a free society:  to provide a means whereby we can modify the rules, to mediate differences among us on the meaning of the rules, and to enforce compliance with the rules on the part of those few who would otherwise not play the game.”

10.  “Fundamental differences in basic values can seldom if ever be resolved ate the ballot box; ultimately they can only be decided, though not resolved, by conflict.  The religious and civil wars of history are a bloody testament to this judgment.”

                Our nation – and indeed our world – would be much better off if more people understood and followed Friedman’s ten bits of counsel listed above.  The principles contained in these quotes are priceless.  He tells us in simple language what is required to have a healthy economy:  limited government, voluntary participation in the market place, the best way to promote welfare and equality, the difficulty of resolving conflicts about basic values, and much more.  Please take a moment to study his ten quotes and compare them to our nation today.  Is it any wonder that our economy continues to struggle under the current administration?

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