Open letter to President Obama (Part 699) “How to Cure Inflation” in Milton Friedman’s FREE TO CHOOSE Part 6 of 7 “Here we go into a period of still higher unemployment later on and have it to do all over again. That’s the only choice we face. And when the public at large recognizes that, they will then elect people to Congress, and a President to office who is committed to less government spending and to less government printing of money and until that happens we will not cure inflation”

Open letter to President Obama (Part 699) (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 “What is wrong with our schools?”  and “Created Equal”  and  From Cradle to Grave, and – Power of the Market.“If we could just stop the printing presses, we would stop inflation,” Milton Friedman says in “How to Cure Inflation” from the Free To Choose series. Now as then, there is only one cause of inflation, and that is when governments print too much money. Milton explains why it is that politicians like inflation, and why wage and price controls are not solutions to the problem.

In this episode Friedman noted, “Here we go into a period of still higher unemployment later on and have it to do all over again. That’s the only choice we face. And when the public at large recognizes that, they will then elect people to Congress, and a President to office who is committed to less government spending and to less government printing of money and until that happens we will not cure inflation.”
Pt 6
SPRINKEL: The film said it took the Japanese _ what _ four years?
FRIEDMAN: Five years.
SPRINKEL: Five years. But one of my greatest concerns is that we haven’t suffered enough yet. Most of the nations that have finally got their inflations __
BROWN: Bad election speech.
SPRINKEL: __ well, I’m not running for office, Clarence.
(Laughter)
SPRINKEL: Most countries that finally got their inflation under control had 20, 30 percent or worse inflation. Germany had much worse and the public supports them. We live in a Democracy, and we’re getting constituencies that gain from inflation. You look at people that own real estate, they’ve done very well.
MCKENZIE: Yes.
SPRINKEL: And how can we get there without going through even more pain, and I doubt that we will.
FRIEDMAN: If you ask who are the constituencies that have benefited most from inflation there are no doubt, it is the homeowners.
SPRINKEL: Yes.
FRIEDMAN: But it’s also the __ it’s also the Congressmen who have been able to vote higher spending without having to vote higher taxes. They have in fact __
BROWN: That’s right.
FRIEDMAN: __ Congress has in fact voted for inflation. But you have never had a Congressman on record to that effect. It’s the government civil servants who have their own salaries are indexed and tied to inflation. They have a retirement benefit, a retirement pension that’s tied to inflation. They qualify, a large fraction of them, for Social Security as well, which is tied to inflation. So that the beneficial __
BROWN: Labor contracts that are indexed and many pricing things that are tied to it.
FRIEDMAN: But the one thing that isn’t tied to inflation and here I want to come back and ask why Congress has been so __ so bad in this area, is our taxes. It has been impossible to get Congress to index the tax system so that you don’t have the present effect where every one percent increase in inflation pushes people up into higher brackets and forces them to pay higher taxes.
BROWN: Well, as you know, I’m an advocate of that.
FRIEDMAN: I know you are.
MCKENZIE: Some countries do that, of course.
FRIEDMAN: Oh, of course.
MCKENZIE: Canada does that. Indexes the __
BROWN: And I went up to Canada on a little weekend seminar program on indexing and came back an advocate of indexing because I found out that the people who are delighted with indexing are the taxpayers.
FRIEDMAN: Absolutely.
BROWN: Because as the inflation rate goes up their tax level either maintains at the same level or goes down. The people who are least __ well, the people who are very unhappy with it are the people who have to plan government spending because it is reducing the amount of money that the government has rather than watching it go up by ten or twelve billion. You get a little dividend to spend in this country, the bureaucrats do every year, but the politicians are unhappy with it too, as Dr. Friedman points out because, you see, politicians don’t get to vote a tax reduction, it happens automatically.
MCKENZIE: Yeah.
BROWN: And so you can’t go back and in a praiseworthy way tell your constituents that I am for you, I voted a tax reduction. And I think we ought to be able to index the tax system so that tax reduction is automatic, rather than have what we’ve had in the past, and that is an automatic increase in the taxes. And the politicians say, “Well, we’re sorry about inflation, but __”.
FRIEDMAN: You’re right and I want to __ I want to go and make a very different point. I sit here and berate you and you as government officials, and so on, but I understand very well that the real culprits are not the politicians, are not the central bankers, but it’s I and my fellow citizens. I always say to people when I talk about this, “If you want to know who’s responsible for inflation, look in the mirror.” It’s not because of the way you spend you money. Inflation doesn’t arise because you got consumers who are spendthrifts; they’ve always been spendthrifts. It doesn’t arise because you’ve got businessmen who are greedy. They’ve always been greedy. Inflation arises because we as citizens have been asking you as politicians to perform an impossible task. We’ve been asking you to spend somebody else’s money on us, but not to spend our money on anybody else.
BROWN: You don’t want us to cut back those dollars for education, right?
FRIEDMAN: Right. And, therefore, __ well, no, I do.
MCKENZIE: We’ve already had a program on that.
FRIEDMAN: We’ve already had a program on that and there’s no viewer of these programs who will be in any doubt about my position on that. But the public at large has not and this is where we come to the political will that Dr. Emminger quite properly talked about. It is __ everybody talks against inflation, but what he means is that he wants the prices of the things he sells to go up and the prices of the things he buys to go down. But, sooner or later, we come to the point where it will be politically profitable to end inflation. This is the point that __
SPRINKEL: Yes.
FRIEDMAN: __ I think you were making.
SPRINKEL: The suffering idea.
FRIEDMAN: Where do you think the __ you know, what do you think the rate of inflation has to be and judged by the experience of other countries before we will be in that position and when do you think that will happen?
SPRINKEL: Well, the evidence says it’s got to be over 20 percent. Now you would think we could learn from others rather than have to repeat mistakes.
FRIEDMAN: Apparently nobody can learn from history.
SPRINKEL: But at the present time we’re going toward higher and not lower inflation.
MCKENZIE: You said earlier, if you want to see who causes inflation look in the mirror.
FRIEDMAN: Right.
MCKENZIE: Now, for everybody watching and taking part in this, there must be some moral to that. What does need __ what has to be the change of attitude of the man in the mirror you’re looking at before we can effectively implement what you call a tough policy that takes courage?
FRIEDMAN: I think that the man in the mirror has to come to recognize that inflation is the most destructive disease known to modern society. There is nothing which will destroy a society so thoroughly and so fully as letting inflation run riot. He must come to recognize that he doesn’t have any good choices. That there are no easy answers. That once you get in this situation where the economy is sick of this insidious disease, there’s gonna be no miracle drug which will enable them to be well tomorrow. That the only choices he has, do I go through a tough period for four or five years of relatively high unemployment, relatively low growth or do I try to push it off by taking some more of the hair of the dog that bit me and get around it now at the cost of still higher unemployment, as Clarence Brown said, later on. The only choice this country faces, is whether we have temporary unemployment for a short period, as a side effect of curling inflation or whether we go into a period of still higher unemployment later on and have it to do all over again. That’s the only choice we face. And when the public at large recognizes that, they will then elect people to Congress, and a President to office who is committed to less government spending and to less government printing of money and until that happens we will not cure inflation.

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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