“Friedman Friday” Quotes from Milton Friedman (part 2)

Milton Friedman’s film series “Free to Choose” is excellent and I would recommend the book highly too. I read it and watched the series in 1980 and it had a huge impact on me. Back in 2004 I saw Milton Friedman give an interview in which he said something that I think really summed up most of views in simple statement and here it is:

  • There are four ways in which you can spend money. You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch out what you’re doing, and you try to get the most for your money. Then you can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well, then I’m not so careful about the content of the present, but I’m very careful about the cost. Then, I can spend somebody else’s money on myself. And if I spend somebody else’s money on myself, then I’m sure going to have a good lunch! Finally, I can spend somebody else’s money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get. And that’s government. And that’s close to 40% of our national income.
    • Fox News interview (May 2004)

Here are some quotes from Milton Friedman that I thought you would enjoy:

  • The unions might be good for the people who are in the unions but it doesn’t do a thing for the people who are unemployed. Because the union keeps down the number of jobs, it doesn’t do a thing for them.
    • Interview with Brian Lamb, In Depth Book TV (2000)
  • The use of quantity of money as a target has not been a success. I’m not sure that I would as of today push it as hard as I once did.
    • Financial Times [UK] (7 June 2003)
  • I am in favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it’s possible.The reason I am is because I believe the big problem is not taxes, the big problem is spending. The question is, “How do you hold down government spending?” Government spending now amounts to close to 40% of national income not counting indirect spending through regulation and the like. If you include that, you get up to roughly half. The real danger we face is that number will creep up and up and up. The only effective way I think to hold it down, is to hold down the amount of income the government has. The way to do that is to cut taxes.
  • There are four ways in which you can spend money. You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch out what you’re doing, and you try to get the most for your money. Then you can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well, then I’m not so careful about the content of the present, but I’m very careful about the cost. Then, I can spend somebody else’s money on myself. And if I spend somebody else’s money on myself, then I’m sure going to have a good lunch! Finally, I can spend somebody else’s money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get. And that’s government. And that’s close to 40% of our national income.
    • Fox News interview (May 2004)
  • I am a libertarian with a small “l” and a Republican with a capital “R”.And I am a Republican with a capital “R” on grounds of expediency, not on principle.
  • Keynes was a great economist. In every discipline, progress comes from people who make hypotheses, most of which turn out to be wrong, but all of which ultimately point to the right answer. Now Keynes, in The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money,set forth a hypothesis which was a beautiful one, and it really altered the shape of economics. But it turned out that it was a wrong hypothesis. That doesn’t mean that he wasn’t a great man!
  • Thanks to economists, all of us, from the days of Adam Smith and before right down to the present, tariffs are perhaps one tenth of one percent lower than they otherwise would have been. … And because of our efforts, we have earned our salaries ten-thousand fold.
  • If a tax cut increases government revenues, you haven’t cut taxes enough.
    • As quoted in “Milton Friedman’s Last Lunch” at Forbes.com (11 December 2006)
  • The true test of any scholar’s work is not what his contemporaries say, but what happens to his work in the next 25 or 50 years.And the thing that I will really be proud of is if some of the work I have done is still cited in the text books long after I am gone.
    • As quoted in The Power of Choice (January 2007)
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