Capitalism and Freedom

Capitalism and Freedom

Book - 2002
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Selected by the Times Literary Supplement as one of the "hundred most influential books since the war"

How can we benefit from the promise of government while avoiding the threat it poses to individual freedom? In this classic book, Milton Friedman provides the definitive statement of his immensely influential economic philosophy--one in which competitive capitalism serves as both a device for achieving economic freedom and a necessary condition for political freedom. The result is an accessible text that has sold well over half a million copies in English, has been translated into eighteen languages, and shows every sign of becoming more and more influential as time goes on.
Publisher: Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 2002
Edition: 40th anniversary ed
ISBN: 9780226264202
0226264203
9780226264219
0226264211
Call Number: 330.122 F9144c 2002
Characteristics: xvi, 208 p. ; 21 cm
Additional Contributors: Friedman, Rose D.

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john_doh17
Mar 05, 2014

While a well written book, my main issue is with the conclusions that the author promotes, and hence my low rating of this book. There are enough holes in capitalism to drive a fleet of trucks through. All hopefully hauling goods that are wanted by consumers with no tariff’s or other impediments and delivered by the one true God, free trade capitalism. Friedman does make some good points about big government being bad that are valid I am totally on board with him on eliminating farm subsidies and changing our tax policy. Overall I think he makes as good a case as anyone can for Capitalism, he just ignores or has no answers for the flaws. Ask the Chinese of 2008 how free they are after their massive economic expansion. Lax banking regulations didn’t seem to work out too well either now do they? The main flaw I see is that his conclusion that economic freedom and political freedom go hand in hand. Capitalism leads to excessive concentration of wealth, which in turn leads to excessive political power. While Friedman makes a good case that capitalism has brought a lot of prosperity to a lot of people, I believe that the commensurate loss in our political power was not worth it. I think the lack of any of anything other than making a profit is the other big flaw. I don’t understand how conservative Christians can buy into both of these concepts of capitalism as Friedman describes it, and Christianity. If you had to pick whom you would associate Friedman with Darwin or Christ, Darwin win’s hands down. Here’s one of Milt’s statements that blew me away. “In such an economy there is only one social responsibility of business- to use it’s resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open free competition, without deception or fraud.” I don’t think I am taking this out of context. I think Friedman truly believed this. He didn't go on to list any exceptions or cases where this might not be desirable. I think the most disturbing part is where he defines the rules. There is no mention of changing the laws to suit your needs at the exclusion of all others. That is acceptable I guess. Apparently it okay to do anything in the name of making money, as long as we tell you we are going to screw you over, and everyone has the same chance to screw you over. Let’s all go out and sell nuclear weapons to Iran, or chemical weapons to warlords in Africa to use in ethnic cleansing, and no government anywhere should be able to object as long as it is an open market. The other big flaw is that Friedman doesn't give enough consideration to external costs. If you own the property and I pay you to let me dump uranium 235 in the river, as long as we both agree, screw the people down the river. Although he does mention people’s rights a few times he doesn't seem to admit we do need government to deal with more than a few basic issues. Since Capitalism is the only system left, we really need to start figure out a way to fix it. Not an easy task, but something has to be done to stop the abuses of the both big business and big government. Maybe the real issue is all big is bad.

s
Sandee
Jul 18, 2011

Very readable and accessible.

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john_doh17
Mar 05, 2014

“In such an economy there is only one social responsibility of business- to use it’s resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open free competition, without deception or fraud.”

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