Friedman Friday” Free to Choose by Milton Friedman: Episode “Created Equal” (Part 3 of transcript and video)
Liberals like President Obama want to shoot for an equality of outcome. That system does not work. In fact, our free society allows for the closest gap between the wealthy and the poor. Unlike other countries where free enterprise and other freedoms are not present. This is a seven part series.
Created Equal [1/7]. Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose (1980)
This is his busines3 headquarters in Las Vegas, empty except for the idea that he shares with his partner who will handle the production end of the venture when things really get going.
Lance von Allmen: Well, the idea is that if you have an oil spill in the ocean or in the river, you want to try to get it under control. What I am going to simulate here __ I am going to put some of this oil down __ there is your oil spill of major proportions. This product, what I can do is unfortunately what I can’t show you here is if you put this product down with an application system, you ring the oil spill in such a manner. The application system will make it much finer and it will control this. I don’t know if you can see what is happening to the oil yet, but it is just literally being drawn into this stuff as I spray it across the top. It is starting to draw it in. I have way more than I need. This controls ten times its weight in oil and it will not sink. It has been chemically treated __ it is cellulose __ it has been chemically treated so that it will in fact not do anything with the water __it hates water but it loves oil. I don’t know if you can see we have containment devices and that is what we are going to use this with. You can see that it has just taken a very little amount of this oil absorbing product which we call Oileater, to pick this up. The nice thing about it is that after that oil spill, we have the system to do what I am doing with my hand and that is pick all this up. There is the oil out of the product.
Now, if you want the oil back, that is not a big problem, if I can keep it all under control. The oil will come out and there we go, allowing it, I don’t know if you can see. What I have done is I have quit my regular job, I have mortgaged everything I’ve got, and it is quite a risk to do this, but the product works. You can see it works.
And when it goes I am going to make millions. It’s compatible with a lot of other products and a lot of other systems that are on the market. So, the money factor is the main thing. Its the kind of thing that when you see it you want to take the risk, it’s just that kind of thing. You know you’re going to make a lot of money. People talk to me and they will say, yeah, but you are crazy, you don’t have a job; you don’t know where the next pay check is going to come from; as a matter of fact, I think I have $10.00 in my pocket right now, but I don’t worry about it. I get up in the morning and it is my world. I own it. I can sit back and say I am losing, or I can sit back and say I am winning. I can go out and change the odds in my favor.
Friedman: People who are afraid, make their own choices. These two men do a dangerous, noisy, filthy job. They don’t do it because they like it. They do it because it is well paid. That is their choice.
This young man has given up any thought of a steady, well paid career in order to take a job on a golf course. He wants to become a professional golfer. It is a big gamble but it is one that he has decided to take.
When people are free, they are able to use their own resources most effectively and you will have a great deal of productivity, a great deal of opportunity. The major beneficiaries are always the small man. The man who has power who is at the top of society, he is going to do well whatever kind of society you have. It is the society which gives the small man the opportunity to go his way which is going to benefit him the most. That is why if you ask where in the world do ordinary people have the greatest opportunity for themselves and their children, it is not in Russian, it is not on the other hand in India __ it is in places like the United States, like Hong Kong, like Britain as it was, not so clearly Britain as it is.
For much of this century, the British have tried to use the law to impose equality, with very indifferent results. The failure of the drive for equality is not because the wrong measures were adopted; not because they were badly administered; not because the wrong people administered it. The failure is much more fundamental. It is because that drive goes against the most basic instinct of all human beings.
In the words of Adam Smith, the uniform, constant, and uninterrupted effort of every man to better his condition, to improve his own lot and to make a better world for his children and his children’s children. When the law interferes with that pursuit, everyone will try to find a way around. He will try to evade the law. He will break the law or he will emigrate from the country. All of those things have happened in Great Britain. There is no moral code that justifies laws fixing prices or fixing wages, or preventing a man from earning a living unless he joins a union and submits himself to the disciplines of the union, or forcing you to buy more expensive goods at home when cheaper goods are available from abroad. When the law prohibits things that most people regard as moral and proper, they are going to break the law. Only fear of punishment, not a sense of justice will cause them to obey the law and when people start breaking one set of laws, there’s a strong tendency for the lack of respect for the law to extend to all. Even to those which everyone regards as moral and proper. Laws against violence, theft, and vandalism. Hard as it may be to believe. The growth of crude criminality in Britain owes much to the drive for equality. In addition, that has driven some of the ablest, best trained, most vigorous people out of Britain much to the benefit of the United States and other countries that have given them a greater opportunity to use their talents for their own benefit. And finally, who can doubt the effect which the drive for equality has had on efficiency and productivity. Surely that is one of the main reasons why Britain has fallen so far behind its continental neighbors, the United States, Japan and other countries in the improvement of the economic lot of the ordinary man over the past 30 years.
Everywhere and at all times, economic progress has meant far more to the poor than to the rich. Wherever progress has been achieved, it has relieved the poor from backbreaking toil. It has also enabled them to enjoy the comforts and conveniences that have always been available to the rich.