Open letter to President Obama (Part 684) “How to Stay Free” in Milton Friedman’s FREE TO CHOOSE Part 7 of 7 “I believe that there is a strong enough component of freedom in our society that we will be able to preserve it, that we’re going to turn this trend back, that we are going to cut government down to size, we’re going to lay the ground work for a resurgence for a, a flowering, of that diversity which has been the real product of our free society”

Open letter to President Obama (Part 684) (Emailed to White House on July 29, 2013)

President Obama c/o The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

I know that you receive 20,000 letters a day and that you actually read 10 of them every day. I really do respect you for trying to get a pulse on what is going on out here.

______________________________

In 1980 I read the book FREE TO CHOOSE by Milton Friedman and it really enlightened me a tremendous amount.  I suggest checking out these episodes and transcripts of Milton Friedman’s film series FREE TO CHOOSE: “The Failure of Socialism” and “The Anatomy of a Crisis” and “What is wrong with our schools?”  and “Created Equal”  and  From Cradle to Grave, and – Power of the Market.

In this episode “How to Stay Free” Friedman makes the statement “What we need is widespread public recognition that the central government should be limited to its basic functions: defending the nation against foreign enemies, preserving order at home, and mediating our disputes. We must come to recognize that voluntary cooperation through the market and in other ways is a far better way to solve our problems than turning them over to the government.”

Milton Friedman says this in the following episode:
I believe that there is a strong enough component of freedom in our society that we will be able to preserve it, that we’re going to turn this trend back, that we are going to cut government down to size, we’re going to lay the ground work for a resurgence for a, a flowering, of that diversity which has been the real product of our free society.
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Pt 7
Lawrence E. Spivak: Milton, how bad is the state of freedom in this country today?
Friedman: It’s a mixed bag. In some areas we have more freedom than we’ve ever had before. In some other areas our freedom has been drastically reduced. Our freedom to spend our own money as we want has been cut sharply. Our freedom to go into whatever occupation we want has been reduced sharply. Our freedom to have various businesses has been reduced sharply. And these restrictions in our economic freedoms have carried over to restrictions on the freedom with which we speak and we talk, the activities we carry on, our attitudes toward governmental officials and all the rest. In those areas, our freedoms have been very seriously restricted.
Lawrence E. Spivak: What about your yourself? You as an individual and we really have to do with, deal with millions of hundreds, two hundred million, two hundred twenty million individuals. What about you? What freedom do you think you’ve lost?
Friedman: Well, I have been a very fortunate individual. I always have…
Lawrence E. Spivak: That sounds like a cop out.
Friedman: No, it’s not a cop out because I’m going to add to it. I’ve always said about the only people who have effective freedom of speech these days in the United States are tenured professors at private universities who are on the verge of retirement or have retired. And that’s been my situation in these recent years. Consider the freedom of, for example, a professor of medicine at any one of our great institutions. He’s almost certainly having his research financed by the Federal Government. Don’t you suppose he’d think two or three times before he gave a lecture on the evils of socialized medicine? Or consider one of my colleagues at the University who happens to be getting grants of money from the National Science Foundation. Do you think he really feels free to speak out on the issue of whether government ought to be financing such research. Of course, you ought not to have freedom without costs. But the costs ought to be reasonable. They ought not to be disproportionate, there’s no businessmen in this country today who can speak out. Why is it, why is it that the businessmen today are so mealy-mouthed in what they say? There are very few of them who are willing to come out and say openly what they believe. Why?
Lawrence E. Spivak: About what?
Friedman: About anything. Take for example the recent attempts by President Carter to impose voluntary wage and price controls. There’s hardly a businessman in this country who doesn’t think it’s terrible. There are only about two or three businessmen who have had the courage to stand up and say something about that. But again, as I say, go to my academic colleagues. Many of them feel as I do that government is devoting altogether too much money. That there’s been altogether too much subsidization of state universities and colleges all along the line. Yet very few of them are willing to speak out.
Lawrence E. Spivak: What about the generation that doesn’t know what freedom is as you knew it, and therefore, doesn’t mind so much what has happened. Just takes for granted what he’s living under now.
Friedman: I think that’s a very real problem. I think we’re living on our inheritance. We have inherited a philosophy and a set of attitudes and they tend to be eroded. People get accustomed to what they know. There’s an enormous tear in the status quote and most people, most of the time, accept the circumstances that are around them. There’s a natural human drive for freedom which always expresses itself. But, its stronger or weaker and I think a great danger in continuing along the path that we’ve been going on is that we will lose still more of our inheritance, still more of our basic values of our basic beliefs in freedom and that we will have still less protest as more and more freedoms are taken away. The real value of freedom is that it provides diversity and diversity is in turn the real protection of freedom. People who like to live in small cities, can live in small cities. People who like the impersonality of the metropolis can live in a metropolis. We have loyalties to our churches, we have loyalties to our universities, to our schools, to our clubs, to our cities, to our states. It’s this diversity. That fact that there isn’t a monolithic conformity imposed on us, that is, the source of protection for our freedom and also the fruit of freedom. It’s because freedom protects diversity, allows, you will remember the phrase when Mao said he was going to allow a 100 flowers to bloom. But of course he didn’t. As soon as people spoke out and 100 flowers bloomed, he cut them off. But it’s the blooming of many flowers, the fact that you have all of these different expressions of people’s individuality and produces the great achievements of civilization and that provides the great hope a protection of our freedom.
Lawrence E. Spivak: Why are you saying that there are pockets of freedom still existing in the countries?
Friedman: As I said before, the picture’s a mixed bag. In certain respects we have more freedom than we’ve ever had, but in other respects we’ve had very much less freedom. Of course there are great pockets of freedom, this is predominantly still a free country. We must not confuse the trend with the situation. We have been moving away from freedom. Our freedom is in jeopardy but by no means has been completely destroyed. I believe that there is a strong enough component of freedom in our society that we will be able to preserve it, that we’re going to turn this trend back, that we are going to cut government down to size, we’re going to lay the ground work for a resurgence for a, a flowering, of that diversity which has been the real product of our free society.

___________________________

Thank you so much for your time. I know how valuable it is. I also appreciate the fine family that you have and your commitment as a father and a husband.

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher III, 13900 Cottontail Lane, Alexander, AR 72002, ph 501-920-5733, lowcostsqueegees@yahoo.com

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