Monday, March 2, 2009

Milton Friedman on Enlightened Self-Interest

A friend of mine sent me this link in which the late, great Milton Friedman takes an interviewer to school.

If only our Messianic president, senatorial saviors, and congressional rescuers had digested this video prior to the unpleasantness of the last two weeks, every person in the U.S. would be, on average, about $15,000 better off.

If this info had been absorbed about 40 years ago, we'd all be at least $40,000 better off.
(Look at your share of the National Debt Meter to your right. Divide the total debt by 300 million Americans. I know, I know, it's fewer than 300 million, since Democrat officials don't seem to pay taxes.)

Instead, we're stuck with a bunch of voters who think that Big Brother knows best. "Only government can solve this government-created crisis, therefore we need more government."



Anonymous said...

I certainly don't think government is the only solution to the problem, but it's not like the enlightened leadership of the private sector has in any way alleviated the problem. Voters don't necessarily want more government, but we can hold government accountable to some degree, and the CEOs committing the felonies are getting off with a slap on the wrist and a severance package. No perfect solution... no perfect people. So there.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Thanks for the comment.

While I agree that there are no perfect solutions, I believe that there are some fairly elegant solutions out there. The first of which is to begin replacing the current Beast With Two Heads party system with some genuine competition. (If you're a long-time reader, you know who that competition would be.)

If that ever happens, the private sector would be on its own to succeed or fail.

Dr Ralph said...

Jeffery - Well said, sir.

WS - I firmly believe were the Libertarians to somehow manage to get in power, they would be fully capable of being every bit as f**ked up as our current two choices. And they'd blame it on someone else.

Dr Ralph said...

The problem with "enlightened self-interest" is that it depends on enlightenment.

We have plenty of self-interest out there, but very little enlightenment. Check out your placard-waving "Secede Now" yahoos in previous posts for proof positive.

gator80 said...

If I may inject a comment here, Jeffery and Ralph seem confused about what Milton Friedman and other libertarians are saying. He does not advocate any 'leadership of the private sector,' at least, not in the sense of 'leadership of a company' or 'leadership of the Republican party.'

Instead a free market consists of thousands and millions of individuals making decisions. The more diffused the decision-making process the less the significance of any 'leaders.'

If you've every read Milton Friedman you'll find that he was very clear-eyed about corporate leadership. They are not libertarians! They want to manipulate the system (typically, but not always, via legal means) to benefit themselves. But guess what, that's exactly what politicians, unions, any number of other special interests do.

A big part of the reason for that is the power of government - it provides an incentive to lobby and manipulate. With a less powerful central authority there is less incentive for those kinds of shenanigans.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

The other thing that makes me totally nuts. Absolutely, totally nuts....

When Adam Smith wrote "The Wealth Of Nations", which is essentially the first economics text, he intended it as an all-out attack on the business class. He slammed mercantilism, protectionism, protective tariffs, etc etc etc.

Ditto for Friedman.

But somehow, Big Business, Big Labor, Big Agro, Big Sugar, etc., have all managed to persuade Big Government that they need to be protected from competition because of their inherent virtue. It's "for the children", and other bullshit concepts.

No one has the imagination to see things other than the way they are now. Which is pretty screwed up.

The guys with the "Secede" posters might have a point.