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Quotes of the day: Milton Friedman
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Published Wednesday, July 30, 2014 @ 11:42 PM EDT
Jul 30 2014

Milton Friedman (July 31, 1912 – November 16, 2006) was an American economist, statistician, and writer who taught at the University of Chicago for more than three decades. He was a recipient of the 1976 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, and 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."

After Friedman's death in 2006, Keynesian Nobel laureate Paul Krugman praised him as a "great economist and a great man," and acknowledged his many widely accepted contributions to empirical economics. Nonetheless, Krugman criticized Friedman, writing that "he slipped all too easily into claiming both that markets always work and that only markets work. It's extremely hard to find cases in which Friedman acknowledged the possibility that markets could go wrong, or that government intervention could serve a useful purpose. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)

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Governments never learn. Only people learn.

Hell hath no fury like a bureaucrat scorned.

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

I say thank God for government waste. If government is doing bad things, it's only the waste that prevents the harm from being greater.

I think the government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem and very often makes the problem worse.

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.

If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there'd be a shortage of sand.

In a bureaucratic system, useless work drives out useful work.

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

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.

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

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.

Society doesn't have values. People have values.

The existence of a free market does not of course eliminate the need for government. On the contrary, government is essential both as a forum for determining the 'rule of the game' and as an umpire to interpret and enforce the rules decided on.

The problem in this world is to avoid concentration of power- we must have a dispersion of power.

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 society that puts equality before freedom will end up with neither. The society that puts freedom before equality will end up with a great measure of both.

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

There are severe limits to the good that the government can do for the economy, but there are almost no limits to the harm it can do.

There is no place for government to prohibit consumers from buying products the effect of which will be to harm themselves.

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

With some notable exceptions, businessmen favor free enterprise in general but are opposed to it when it comes to themselves.

You must distinguish sharply between being pro free enterprise and being pro business.

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The Bank [of Canada] gave it a college try, it really did. It just doesn't work that way.
-John Crow, former governor of the Bank of Canada, on implementing Friedman's theories

I don't give a good goddamn what Milton Friedman says. He's not running for re-election!
-Richard Nixon

There is as an unearthly, mystical element in Friedman's thought. The mere existence of a stock of money somehow promotes expenditure. But insofar as he offers an intelligible theory, it is made up of elements borrowed from Keynes.
-Joan Robinson

Today we see how utterly mistaken was the Milton Friedman notion that a market system can regulate itself... Everyone understands now, on the contrary, that there can be no solution without government. The Keynesian idea is once again accepted that fiscal policy and deficit spending has a major role to play in guiding a market economy. I wish Friedman were still alive so he could witness how his extremism led to the defeat of his own ideas.
-Paul Samuelson

Everybody loves to argue with Milton, particularly when he isn't there.
-George Shultz

Everything reminds Milton of the money supply. Well, everything reminds me of sex, but I keep it out of the paper.
-Robert Solow


Categories: Milton Friedman, Quotes of the day


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