What does Milton Friedmans think of capitalism?

Capitalism and freedom

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung | Meeting of 07/29/2002Market versus state
A new edition of the standard liberal work by Milton Friedman

Milton Friedman: Capitalism and Freedom. Eichborn Verlag, Frankfurt 2002, 240 pages, 29.90 euros.

Milton Friedman's "Capitalism and Freedom" is a true classic: the knowledge that the Nobel Prize winner conveys in his popularly written book, which emerged from a series of lectures, is timeless. The fact that the world has changed fundamentally since exactly forty years ago the bestseller "Capitalism and Freedom", which has meanwhile been translated into 20 world languages ​​- the Friedmans built their dream villa "Capitaf" in the mountains of Vermont - came on the market, diminishes its strength not. Back then, at the height of a global trend towards the state economy, Friedman made himself an advocate for the market economy - in German, "capitalism" still has a class-struggle insult.

Since then, science and politics have actually distanced themselves from the Keynesian doctrines of feasibility, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan came along, freedom thinking and supply-side economic policy broke ground, the iron curtain disappeared. "Today the trend is to give the markets a bigger role and the state a smaller role", Friedman states with satisfaction in his foreword to the German-language new edition of the work.

Behind this endeavor of the American star economist, as Horst Siebert, President of the Institute for World Economy aptly writes in the preface, "the fundamental question of the rank of individual freedom in a society" stands. The liberal scientist, who will turn 90 on July 31, fights for them not only in principle, but also in detail - and with considerable creativity, for example when he advertises in his book for a negative income tax or for a voucher system in one competitive school system with freedom of choice. There is still a lot to do today. But the world has already learned a lot from Friedman - the benefits of free exchange rates and the advantages of controlling the money supply, for example.

Friedman also shows how much can be gained by pushing back the overflowing welfare state, both in terms of freedom and efficiency. He presents a whole list of unjustified state interventions, all of which are still practiced in most countries of the world and urgently need to be abolished - from agricultural subsidies, import restrictions and rent controls to minimum wages. Friedman calls for the complete privatization of statutory social security and for the abolition of the postal monopoly. He also fought vigorously against conscription - and was ultimately successful in 1973 in the United States. He also demonstrates the close connection between economic and political freedom - which, as he admits in the new foreword, he would have liked to have added a third pole, civil freedom. Maybe one day he'll still have time to do it.


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