Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman

Although I am pleased to have finished this work, it was a none too exciting read and was kind of boring at parts actually. I read it because I wanted to have a better understanding of “Friedman economics,” such as the notion that any governmental action reduces freedom, and thus my mission was accomplished.

Considering the book starts with a list of things Friedman wishes were so, and number 8 was that banks should not be regulated at all, it was harder to keep an open mind to the possible validity of his ideas.
Additionally, the statement “Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself” didn’t endear him much to me as it sounds far too much like Colbert’s satirical retort after any minor disagreement: “Why do you hate freedom?”

I did like his coverage of inequality, as well as that of coverage of Marx’s famous dictum and that capital is a result of past labour (but I think there could be more to it).

I thought it was very interesting that he stated that most, if not all, abilities could be seen as due to chance (if you have determination, you had genes which gave you a predisposition to such behaviour); this is mainly because I think the primary flaw that many people have when discussing notions of equality and responsibility, is that they tend believe that people are very much self-made instead of dependent upon history, circumstances and luck. More generally, if there is a limited ability to choose, and you just lucked out, should you really get all your money? People think you earned it, but did you really?

The personal primary utility of this work was that I gained a greater understanding of Friedman’s work and an ability to place it in a historical economic context (i.e., (roughly) the Great depression leading to an acceptance of Keynes in the 30s and then Friedman’s reaction to Keynes/welfare state in the 60s/70s and now a backlash to that reaction considering the meltdown). On to Keynes and Galbraith and...


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