Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Happy100th Birthday Milton Friedman!

Here are some of my favorite Milton Friedman quotes:

1. There is nothing as permanent as a temporary government program.

2. Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon.

3. Inflation is caused by too much money chasing after too few goods.

4. Sloppy writing reflects sloppy thinking.

5. All learning is ultimately self-learning.

6. I'm in favor of legalizing drugs. According to my values system, if people want to kill themselves, they have every right to do so. Most of the harm that comes from drugs is because they are illegal.

7. Nobody spends somebody else's money as carefully as he spends his own. Nobody uses somebody else's resources as carefully as he uses his own. So if you want efficiency and effectiveness, if you want knowledge to be properly utilized, you have to do it through the means of private property.

8. The government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem.

9. 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.

10. The high rate of unemployment among teenagers, and especially black teenagers, is both a scandal and a serious source of social unrest. Yet it is largely a result of minimum wage laws. We regard the minimum wage law as one of the most, if not the most, antiblack laws on the statute books.

11. Industrial progress, mechanical improvement, all of the great wonders of the modern era have meant relatively little to the wealthy. The rich in Ancient Greece would have benefited hardly at all from modern plumbing : running servants replaced running water. Television and radio? The Patricians of Rome could enjoy the leading musicians and actors in their home, could have the leading actors as domestic retainers. Ready-to-wear clothing, supermarkets - all these and many other modern developments would have added little to their life. The great achievements of Western Capitalism have redounded primarily to the benefit of the ordinary person. These achievements have made available to the masses conveniences and amenities that were previously the exclusive prerogative of the rich and powerful.

12. President Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country."... Neither half of that statement expresses a relation between the citizen and his government that is worthy of the ideals of free men in a free society. "What your country can do for you" implies that the government is the patron, the citizen the ward. "What you can do for your country" assumes that the government is the master, the citizen the servant.

13. On the difference between public vs. private education: "Try talking French with someone who studied it in public school. Then with a Berlitz graduate."

14. And what does reward virtue? You think the communist commissar rewards virtue? You think a Hitler rewards virtue? You think, excuse me, if you'll pardon me, American presidents reward virtue? Do they choose their appointees on the basis of the virtue of the people appointed or on the basis of their political clout?

15. Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it.

16. Hell hath no fury like a bureaucrat scorned.

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

18. Inflation is the one form of taxation that can be imposed without legislation.

19. 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.

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

21. Only government can take perfectly good paper, cover it with perfectly good ink and make the combination worthless.

22. One man's opportunism is another man's statesmanship.


  1. Milton Friedman was a very intuitive man with progressive thoughts that we need more of in our ever changing nation.

    1. I'm not sure I would have wanted to call him a "progressive" during a debate and felt the sting of his answer. He himself said "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." "Classical liberal" is probably a more appropriate term, but he was more interested in having people debate his ideas, rather than how to label him.