At a time when it was fashionable to assert that collectivism was the wave of the future, he championed the moral and practical superiority of free markets. At a time when “economic” freedom was ranked below “political” freedom, he showed that they are inseparable. And when others looked to government to accomplish their social objectives, he reshaped American politics through his advocacy of monetary restraint, deregulation, the volunteer army, school choice and the flat tax…
He thoroughly discredited the idea, common since the Great Depression, that capitalism is inherently flawed and requires the “fine-tuning” of government to avoid excess and disaster. This has been the central conceit of the Keynesian state, administered by educated sophists, adjusting tax-and-spend policies to tame the business cycle. Friedman attacked these beliefs at their root. He argued that the Great Depression was not caused by the “defects” of capitalism, but by government incompetence.
Economic and social freedom, Friedman reminded us, is not a state of nature. It’s also not a state of grace. It creates the space where souls can make their own choices, informed by bishops and rabbis, poets and philosophers. “The central and supreme object of liberty,” said Lord Acton, “is the reign of conscience.” In the end, they are inseparable.
Some Friedman Quotes
- Columbus did not seek a new route to the Indies in response to a majority directive.
- Governments never learn. Only people learn.
- Hell hath no fury like a bureaucrat scorned.
- Most of the energy of political work is devoted to correcting the effects of mismanagement of government.
- Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government