Dan Mitchell: All the evidence clearly shows that you get more prosperity where government plays a smaller role

What’s Best for the Working Class: Big Government or Small Government?

As illustrated by the “anti-convergence club,” there is a very strong relationship between economic liberty and national prosperity.

Simply stated, people enjoy much higher levels of income in nations where there’s more free enterprise and less government.

But not everybody understands this relationship.

And it’s not just a problem on the left.

There are movements on the right (national conservatismcompassionate conservatismkinder-and-gentler conservatismcommon-good capitalismreform conservatism) that apparently think bigger government will produce positive outcomes.

For a very recent example, Chris Griswold assertedearlier this month in Newsweek that Republicans should reduce their infatuation with economic liberty.

American workers are intensely tired of getting, well, railroaded by libertarian economic ideology that treats them as cogs in the free-market machine rather than human beings whose dignity, family lives, and communities matter. And they want an economic agenda that will do something about it. It is the task of responsible conservative leaders to articulate such an agenda.…Capitalism only works when pursuing profit results in investment in domestic production and employment. When the pursuit of profit leads instead to offshoring, reckless financial speculation, and the destructive exercise of monopoly power, it’s time for public policy to step in. …The great mistake of Republican policymakers in recent decades has been to confuse their policies for principles, as if “Tax Cuts” and “Free Trade” are the essence of conservatism and must be upheld regardless of circumstances. …Many working families are weary of economic policy that treats them as disposable. The political party that best responds to them stands to earn the support of a governing working-class majority.

I actually laughed out loud when reading the above column. How can anyone who lived through the big-spending Bush years or the big-spending Trump years think that Republicans in recent decades have been motivated by “libertarian economic ideology”?

But the bigger problem with the article is that Griswold apparently thinks that there’s an alternative to “free markets” that would produce better results for the working class.

You’ll notice he offers no evidence for that assertion. That’s because all the evidence clearly shows that you get more prosperity where government plays a smaller role.

What we should be doing, of course, is helping workers by getting government out of the way.

Scott Lincicome’s column in today’s Wall Street Journal correctly summarizes some of the best ways of making that happen.

‘Standing up for the American worker” has long been a slogan synonymous with bigger government in Washington. …this pro-worker chorus has become loud and bipartisan—trumpeting tariffs, wage subsidies, benefits mandates and stricter labor regulations. Its champions have coalesced on the assumption that “free markets” have failed the working class. …the claim that markets have failed American workers ignores the panoply of federal, state and local policiesthat distort markets and raise the cost of healthcare, child care, housing and other necessities; lower workers’ total compensation; inhibit their employment or personal improvement; and deny them the lives they actually want. …modest changes to existing regulations would lower child-care prices by thousands of dollars with little effect on quality. …eliminating tariffs on food, clothes, shoes and other household essentials would increase parents’ real incomes even more. …reforming housing, licensing, criminal justice, K-12 education, welfare and other harmful policies would boost workers’ mobility, bargaining power and lifetime earnings. …many in Washington think of American workers as helpless, static and in need of government protection from cradle to grave, despite their registered preferences and the documented harms that such policies as European-style labor regulations can inflict on them and the U.S. economy more broadly.


People who think more government is the answer have obviously asked a very silly question.

Speaking of questions, maybe Mr. Griswold can be the first person to successfully answer this question. I won’t be holding my breath.


Every Friday you need to click on www.theDailyHatch.org if you would like to see a video clip of Milton Friedman as he shares his common sense conservative economic views. Many of his articles are posted too. I remember growing up and reading those great articles every week in Newsweek. They are just as relevant today as they were then.

So many points brought up by liberals sound so good at first but really are easy to answer logically. Take the example below.

I remember like yesterday when I saw Milton Friedman on the Phil Donahue Show. Donahue had thrown up one of those liberal accusations against the free enterprise system. Below is the exchange that I saw that day:

Phil Donahue: When you see around the globe, the mal-distribution of wealth, a desperate plight of millions of people in underdeveloped countries. When you see so few “haves” and so many “have-nots.” When you see the greed and the concentration of power. Did you ever have a moment of doubt about capitalism and whether greed is a good idea to run on?

Milton Friedman: Well first of all tell me is there some society you know that doesn’t run on Greed? You think Russia doesn’t run on greed? You think China doesn’t run on greed? What is greed? Of course none of us are greedy, it’s only the other fellow who is greedy. The world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests.

The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus. Einstein didn’t construct his theory under order from a bureaucrat. Henry Ford didn’t revolutionize the automobile industry that way.

In the only cases in which the masses have escaped from the kind of grinding poverty you’re talking about – the only cases in recorded history – are where they have had capitalism and largely free trade.

If you want to know where the masses are worst off, it’s exactly in the kinds of societies that depart from that. So that the record of history is absolutely crystal clear that there is no alternative way so far discovered of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by a free enterprise system.

Donahue: But it seems to reward not virtue as much as ability to manipulate the system…

Friedman: And what does reward virtue? You think the Communist commissar rewarded virtue? You think a Hitler rewarded virtue? You think – excuse me – if you’ll pardon me – do you think American Presidents reward virtue ?

Do they choose their appointees on the basis of the virtue of the people appointed or on the basis of their political clout ?

Is it really true that political self-interest is nobler somehow than economic self-interest ? You know, I think you’re taking a lot of things for granted. Just tell me where in the world you find these angels who are going to organize society for us ? Well, I don’t even trust you to do that.

Below are links to some of the past posts:

Discussion on Equality from Milton Friedman and Bradley Gitz

Milton Friedman – Redistribution of Wealth Uploaded by LibertyPen on Feb 12, 2010 Milton Friedman clears up misconceptions about wealth redistribution, in general, and inheritance tax, in particular. http://www.LibertyPen.com __________________ Check out this excellent article below on equality from today’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (paywall): What is equality? By Bradley Gitz This article was published today at 3:00 […]

“Friedman Friday” Tribute to Milton Friedman (Part 5)

 Milton Friedman: Life and ideas – Part 05 99th anniversary of Milton Friedman’s birth (Part 13) Milton Friedman was born on July 31, 1912 and he died November 16, 2006. I started posting tributes of him on July 31 and I hope to continue them until his 100th birthday. Here is another tribute below: Sheldon […]

Famous Milton Friedman Quotes(“Friedman Friday” Part 4)

Milton Friedman on the Causes of Inflation (“Friedman Friday” Part 4) FRIEDMAN FRIDAY APPEARS EVERY FRIDAY AND IS HONOR OF THE NOBEL PRIZE WINNING ECONOMIST MILTON FRIEDMAN Famous Friedman Quotes By John Beagle Milton Friedman – University of Chicago School of Economics Professor As I read the comments by Milton Friedman, I can’t help but think […]

Milton Friedman on the power of choice (“Friedman Friday” Part 3)

FRIEDMAN FRIDAY APPEARS EVERY FRIDAY AND IS HONOR OF THE NOBEL PRIZE WINNING ECONOMIST MILTON FRIEDMAN. The Power Of Choice By John Beagle An interesting compilation of Milton Freeman as an economic freedom philosopher. Milton makes the case for economic freedom as a precondition for political freedom. The title of this video, The Power of Choice […]

The stimulus did not work, Milton Friedman knew that 40 yrs ago (“Friedman Friday” Part 2)

Happy Birthday, Milton Friedman! Author: Jonathan Wood Milton Friedman, one of the greatest minds of the 20th century, would have turned 99 on Sunday.  Though few individuals have been as deserving of praise, Milton Friedman was “much more interested in having people thinking about the ideas” than the person having them.  In that spirit, we […]

John Fund’s talk in Little Rock 4-27-11(Part 2):Arkansas is a right to work state and gets new businesses because of it, Obama does not get that, but Milton Friedman does!!!(Royal Wedding Part 18)

Ep. 8 – Who Protects the Worker [1/7]. Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose (1980) Speakers at the First Richmond Tea Party, October 8-9, 2010 John Fund   John Fund is a columnist for The Wall Street Journal and its OpinionJournal.com and an on-air contributor to 24-hour cable news networks CNBC and MSNBC. He is the […]

Balanced Budget Amendment the answer? Boozman says yes, Pryor no (Part 13, Milton Friedman’s view is yes)(The Conspirator Part 18, Lewis Powell Part A)

Dallas Fed president and CEO Richard W. Fisher sat down with economist Milton Friedman on October 19, 2005, as part of ongoing discussions with the Nobel Prize winner. In this clip, Friedman argues for a reduction in government spending. I really wish that Senator Pryor would see the wisdom of supporting the Balanced Budget amendment. […]

Senator Pryor asks for Spending Cut Suggestions! Here are a few!(Part 14)(“The Conspirator” movie, part 1)

  Senator Mark Pryor wants our ideas on how to cut federal spending. Take a look at this video clip below: Senator Pryor has asked us to send our ideas to him at cutspending@pryor.senate.gov and I have done so in the past and will continue to do so in the future. Here are a few […]



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