Free to choose by Milton Friedman - Summary

I stumbled upon this book in my quest to understand market dynamics and collected some notes for posteriority below.

Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficial. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greater dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.

-- Justice Louis Brandeis (1928)

Free to choose by Milton Friedman


Economic freedoms is an essential requisite for political freedom.

[..] an individual who intends only to serve the public interest by fostering the government intervention is "led by an invisible hand to promote" private interests, "which was no part of his intention."

a paraphrase of Adam Smith

The experience of recent years -- slowing growth and declining productivity -- raises doubt whether private ingenuity can continue to overcome the deadining effects of government control if we continue to grant ever more power to government, to authorize a "new class" of civil servants to spend ever larger fractions of our income supposedly on our behalf.

The power of the market

The tyranny of controls

Sloth and lack of enterprise flourish when hard work and the taking of risks are not rewarded.

The anatomy of crisis

Cradle to grave

Read "Looking Backward" by Edward Bellamy

Public expenditures are made for the primary benefit of the middle class, and financed with the taxes which are borne in considerable part by the poor and rich.

Director's Law of Public Income Redistribution by George J. Stigler

Those on relief [payments] have little incentive to earn income.

[..] The more bureaucratic an organization, the greater the extent to which useless work tends to displace useful work.

Created equal

Everybody has won, and all must have prizes.

-- Dodo in Alice in Wonderland

Read George Orwell's "Animal Farm"

The uniform, constant, and uninterrupted effort of every man to better his condition [, the principle from which publick and national, as well as private opulence is originally derived, is frequently powerful enough to maintain the natural progress of things toward improvement, in spite both of the extravagance of government, and of the greatest errors of administration.]

-- Adam Smith

What's wrong with our schools?

Who protects the consumer?

Who protects the worker?

To hold my teacher in this art equal to my own parents; to make him partner in my livelihood; when he is in need of money to share mine with him; to consider his family as my own brothers, and to teach them this art, if they want to learn it, without fee or indenture; to impart precept, oral instruction, and all other instruction to my own sons, the sons of my teacher, and to indentured pupils who have taken the physician’s oath, but to nobody else.

-- Hippocratic Oath

The cure for inflation

Hyperinflations in Russia and Germany after World War I - when prices sometimes doubled and more than doubled from one day to the next - prepared the ground for communism in the one country and nazism in the other.

The tide is turning

Congress shall make no laws abridging the freedom of sellers of goods or labor to price their products or services.

Congress shall not lay any imposts or duties on imports or exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing its inspection laws.

No State shall make or impose any law which shall abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to follow any occupation or profession of his choice.

The right of the people to buy and sell legitimate goods and services at mutually acceptable terms hall not be infringed by Congress or any of the States.

A low flat rate -- less than 20 percent -- on all income above personal exemptions with no deductions except for strict occupational expenses would yield more revenue than the present unwieldy structure. [..] The only losers would be lawyers, accountants, civil servants and legislators [..]

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