FCL Series - Milton Friedman - Capitalism and Freedom
The “FCL” Series – For some length of time now, I’ve given some thought to putting out something like this. A principal problem is that of labels, and another is the lack of room in a torrent description to write anything approaching even a SYNOPSIS of a clear manifesto. Therefore, I have decided to call this FCL (an acronym for Fiscal Conservative Libertarian) for the sake of brevity and clarity.
There are in America (and to a lesser degree in Europe) a huge number of people who would largely fit into this camp. We are the practical, the scientific, the skeptical and the truly logically analytical. We are IN NO WAY dogmatic or organized, but we generically agree to a certain extent on some core ideas. We think people who attend rallies or protests are shmucks. We think people can express their political opinions on bumperstickers are too stupid to vote. We think whenever we hear the phrase “there ought to be a law!” that there probably shouldn’t be. We have differing opinions on abortion, gun control, the death penalty, flag burning, and gay rights, but agree categorically that such decisions ought not to be Constitutional issues and are best left to the local voters. We think that the Federal Government ought not to do much of anything other than core responsibilities, especially if they have no idea how to pay for it. We don’t vote with out hearts but with our heads. We are never loyal to any party. We are very pro-military, and most of us have served. We don’t trust any politician and we despise empty symbolism, ignorant populism, and idiotic sloganeering. We are all about practical economics, actual freedom from the leftist nannies and rightist religious police, and we like individual responsibility.
People like me have been going nuts for a long time with the economic stupidities of our government and fellow citizens, the general inability of these to understand real long term effects, and we are sick to death of people blaming US for George Bush instead of the RELIGIOUS and SOCIAL conservatives who elected him. We are NOT “neo-cons”, “dittoheads”, or lovers of Fox News, and we are sick and tired of lefties telling us we must be supporters of Limbaugh and Falwell. WE are the people who watch Penn & Teller’s BULLSHIT and love SOUTH PARK. We think Obama is a very nice fellow whose economic policies at best will lead America on a path in the long run to a low rent failed soft-core Socialism. Finally, we think that the 40% on either side that make up the core of the two major sides are usually reaching bad conclusions and voting stupidly because they listen to propaganda and don’t truly understand some complicated issues with an honest degree of depth.
Therefore, since there is no shortage of people here with an agenda (some of which borders on the insane), I am going to put out a collection of material that gives a good accounting of the fiscal conservative point of view. Some of it I personally take as gospel, some of it is merely generic. Speaking as a history and social studies teacher, I feel qualified to select materials that reflect this point of view. It is my hope that many will increase their knowledge of complicated historical and economic events by this effort. I do not seek to foster argument or win converts, but merely to explain to the right wingers why we would rather have freedom than ban abortion or marijuana, and to get it through to the left that not everyone who doesn’t toe their fantasy line is a flat-Earther or fascist. Most of this material will be conservative, and most will deal with economics. There will be no political diatribes from dogmatic and non-practical people (Sorry to all the Coulter and Chomsky fans) who are more intent on pushing a fantasy utopia that pursuing practical liberty.
Transcribed from Audiotape, torrent originally found on MakeGreatMusic dot Net
Title: Capitalism and Freedom
Author: Milton Friedman
Read By: Frances Kelley
Audiobook Copyright: 0
Genre: Audio Book
Number of MP3s: 11
Total Duration: 7:30:17
Total MP3 Size: 206.19
Parity Archive: No
Encoded At: CBR 64 kbit/s 22050 Hz Joint Stereo
ID3 Tags: Set, v1.1, v2.3
The introduction lays out the principles of Friedman's archetypal liberal, a man who supports limited and dispersed governmental power. Friedman opts for the continental European, rather than American, definition of the term.
i. The Relation between Economic Freedom and Political Freedom
In this chapter, Friedman promotes economic freedom as both a necessary freedom in itself and also as a vital means for political freedom. He argues that, with the means for production under the auspices of the government, it is nearly impossible for real dissent and exchange of ideas to exist. Additionally, economic freedom is important, since any "bi-laterally voluntary and informed" transaction must benefit both parties to the transaction.
ii. The Role of Government in a Free Society
According to the author, the government of a liberal society should enforce law and order and property rights, as well as take action on certain technical monopolies and diminish negative "neighborhood effects." The government should also have control over money, as has long been recognized in the constitution and society.
iii. The Control of Money
He discusses the evolution of money in America, culminating in the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. Far from acting as a stabilizer, the Federal Reserve failed to act as it should have in several circumstances. Friedman proposes that the Federal Reserve have a consistent rule to increase the money supply by 3-5% annually.
iv. International Financial and Trade Arrangements
This chapter advocates the end of the Bretton Woods system in favor of a floating exchange rate system and the end of all currency controls and trade barriers, even "voluntary" export quotas. Friedman says that this is the only true solution to the balance of trades problem.
v. Fiscal Policy
Friedman argues against the continual government spending justified to "balance the wheel" and help the economy to continue to grow. On the contrary, federal government expenditures make the economy less, not more stable. Friedman uses concrete evidence from his own research, demonstrating that the rise in government expenditures results in a roughly equal rise in GDP, contrasting with the Keynsian multiplier theory. Many reasons for this discrepancy are discussed.
vi. The Role of Government in Education
The policy advocated here is vouchers which students may use for education at a private school of their choice. The author believes that everyone, in a democracy, needs a basic education for citizenship. Though there is underinvestment in human capital (in terms of spending at technical and professional schools), it would be foolish of the government to provide free technical education. The author suggests several solutions, some private, some public, to stop this underinvestment.
vii. Capitalism and Discrimination
In a capitalist society, Friedman argues, it costs money to discriminate, and it is very difficult, given the impersonal nature of market transactions. However, the government should not make fair employment practices laws (eventually embodied in the Civil Rights Act of 1964), as these inhibit the freedom to employ someone based on whatever qualifications the employer wishes to use. For the same reason, right-to-work laws should be abolished.
viii. Monopoly and the Social Responsibility of Business and Labor
Friedman states, there are three alternatives for a monopoly: public monopoly, private monopoly, or public regulation. None of these is desirable or universally preferable. Monopolies come from many sources, but direct and indirect government intervention is the most common, and it should be stopped wherever possible. The doctrine of "social responsibility", that corporations should care about the community and not just profit, is highly subversive to the capitalist system and can only lead towards totalitarianism.
ix. Occupational Licensure
This economist takes a radical stance against all forms of state licensure. The biggest advocates for licenses in an industry are, usually, the people in the industry, wishing to keep out potential competitors. The author defines registration, certification, and licensing, and, in the context of doctors, explains why the case for each one of these is weaker than the previous one. There is no liberal justification for licensing doctors; it results in inferior care and a medical cartel.
x. The Distribution of Income
Friedman examines the progressive income tax, introduced in order to redistribute income to make things more fair, and finds that, in fact, the rich take advantage of numerous loopholes, nullifying the redistributive effects. It would be far more just to have a uniform flat tax with no deductions, which could meet the 1962 tax revenues with a rate only slightly greater than the lowest tax bracket at that time.
xi. Social Welfare Measures
Though well-intentioned, many social welfare measures don't help the poor as much as some think. Friedman focuses on Social Security as a particularly large and unfair system.
xii. Alleviation of Poverty
He advocates a negative income tax to fix the issue, giving everyone a guaranteed minimum income, rather than current measures, which he sees as misguided and inefficient.
The conclusion to the book centers on how, time and time again, government intervention often has an effect opposite of that intended. Most good things in the United States and the world come from the free market, not the government, and they will continue to do so. The government, despite its good intentions, should stay out of areas where it does not need to be.