Tag Archives: equality of outcome

What does created equal mean according to Milton Friedman? “Friedman Friday”

What does created equal mean according to Milton Friedman?

In his article “A test for first among equals,” Arkansas News Bureau, September 30, 2011, Matthew Pate asserted:

Among the most familiar passages in the Declaration of Independence is the section reading, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Who am I to dispute one of the key sentiments contained in the great foundational document of our republic?

 

Even so, I’m disputin’ it.

Namely, I have a problem with the idea that we are all created equal. Perhaps in some abstract sense of tabula rasa, we all emerge from the womb with approximately equal potential, but I am dubious of even that.

This said, I readily, wholly and unequivocally believe we should all be treated as though we were equal, but facts being what they are, we are not all equal.

As someone whose job requires the issuance of class grades, I can fully attest that not all snowflakes are special. They all may be unique and valuable, but some are bright white and some appear to have been visited by sled dogs. Like it or not, we are a people of standards, rankings and competitions.

_______-

The answer to this question of what equality is can be found in the first part of the episode “Created Equal” in the film series FREE TO CHOOSE by Milton Friedman.

Milton Friedman and Ronald Reagan

Liberals like President Obama (and John Brummett) 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)

Uploaded by on May 30, 2010

In this program, Milton Friedman visits India, the U.S., and Britain, examining the question of equality. He points out that our society traditionally has embraced two kinds of equality: equality before God and equality of opportunity. The first of these implies that human beings enjoy a certain dignity simply because they are members of the human community. The second suggests societies should allow the talents and inclinations of individuals to unfold, free from arbitrary barriers. Both of these concepts of equality are consistent with the goal of personal freedom.

In recent years, there has been growing support for a third type of equality, which Dr. Friedman calls “equality of outcome.” This concept of equality assumes that justice demands a more equal distribution of the economic fruits of society. While admitting the good intentions of those supporting the idea of equality of outcome, Dr. Friedman points out that government policies undertaken in support of this objective are inconsistent with the ideal of personal freedom. Advocates of equality of outcome typically argue that consumers must be protected by government from the insensitivities of the free market place.

Dr. Friedman demonstrates that in countries where governments have pursued the goal of equality of outcome, the differences in wealth and well being between the top and the bottom are actually much greater than in countries that have relied on free markets to coordinate economic activity. Indeed, says Dr. Friedman, it is the ordinary citizen who benefits most from the free market system. Dr. Friedman concludes that any society that puts equality ahead of freedom will end up with neither. But the society that puts freedom before equality will end up with both greater freedom and great equality.

___________________________

FREE TO CHOOSE 5: “Created Equal” (Milton Friedman)
Free to Choose ^ | 1980 | Milton Friedman

Posted on Friday, July 21, 2006 3:58:44 PM by Choose Ye This Day

FREE TO CHOOSE: Created Equal

Friedman: From the Victorian novelists to modern reformers, a favorite device to stir our emotions is to contrast extremes of wealth and of poverty. We are expected to conclude that the rich are responsible for the deprivations of the poor __ that they are rich at the expense of the poor.

Whether it is in the slums of New Delhi or in the affluence of Las Vegas, it simply isn’t fair that there should be any losers. Life is unfair __ there is nothing fair about one man being born blind and another man being born with sight. There is nothing fair about one man being born of a wealthy parent and one of an indigenous parent. There is nothing fair about Mohammed Ali having been born with a skill that enables him to make millions of dollars one night. There is nothing fair about Marleena Detrich having great legs that we all want to watch. There is nothing fair about any of that. But on the other hand, don’t you think a lot of people who like to look at Marleena Detrich’s legs benefited from nature’s unfairness in producing a Marleena Detrich. What kind of a world would it be if everybody was an absolute identical duplicate of anybody else. You might as well destroy the whole world and just keep one specimen left for a museum. In the same way, it’s unfair that Muhammed Ali should be a great fighter and should be able to earn millions. But would it not be even more unfair to the people who like to watch him if you said that in the pursuit of some abstract idea of equality we’re not going to let Muhammed Ali get more for one nights fight than the lowest man on the totem pole can get for a days unskilled work on the docks. You can do that but the result of that would be to deny people the opportunity to watch Mohammad Ali. I doubt very much he would be willing to subject himself to the kind of fights he’s gone through if he were to get the pay of an unskilled docker.

This beautiful estate, its manicured lawns, its trees, its shrubs, was built by men and women who were taken by force in Africa and sold as slaves in America. These kitchen gardens were planted and tended by them to furnish food for themselves and their master, Thomas Jefferson, the Squire of Monticello. It was Jefferson who wrote these words: We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These words penned by Thomas Jefferson at the age of 33 when he wrote the Declaration of Independence, have served to define a basic ideal of the United States throughout its history.

Much of our history has revolved about the definition and redefinition of the concept of equality, about the intent to translate it into practice. What did Thomas Jefferson mean by the words all men are created equal? He surely did not mean that they were equal and/or identical in what they could do and what they believed. After all, he was himself a most remarkable person. At the age of 26, he designed this beautiful house of Monticello, supervised its construction and indeed is said to have worked on it with his own hands. He was an inventor, a scholar, an author, a statesman, governor of Virginia, President of the United States, minister to France, he helped shape and create the United States. What he meant by the word “equal” can be seen in the phrase “endowed by their creator”. To Thomas Jefferson, all men are equal in the eyes of God. They all must be treated as individuals who have each separately a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Of course, practice did not conform to the ideals. In Jefferson’s life or in ours as a nation, he agonized repeatedly during his lifetime about the conflict between the institution of slavery and the fine words of the declaration. Yet, during his whole life, he was a slave owner.

This is the City Palace in Jaipur, the capitol of the Indian state of Rajasthan, is just one of the elegant houses that were built here 150 years ago by the prince who ruled this land. There are no more princes, no more Maharajas in India today. All titles were swept away by the government of India in its quest for equality. But as you can see, there are still some people here who live a very privileged life. The descendants of the Maharajas financed this kind of life partly by using other palaces as hotels for tourists __ tourists who come to India to see how the other half lives. This side of India, the exotic glamorous side, is still very real. Everywhere in the world there are gross inequalities of income and wealth. They offend most of us.

A myth has grown up that free market capitalism increases such inequalities, that the rich benefit at the expense of the poor. Nothing could be further from the truth. Wherever the free market has been permitted to operate, the ordinary man has been able to attain levels of living never dreamed of before. Nowhere is the gap between rich and poor. Nowhere are the rich richer and the poor poorer than in those societies that do not permit the free market to operate, whether they be feudal societies where status determines position, or modern, centrally-planned economies where access to government determines position.

Central planning was introduced in India in considerable part in the name of equality. The tragedy is that after 30 years, it is hard to see any significant improvement in the lot of the ordinary person.

Related posts:

Friedman Friday” Free to Choose by Milton Friedman: Episode “Created Equal” (Part 3 of transcript and video)

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 […]

Free to Choose by Milton Friedman: Episode “Created Equal” (Part 2 of transcript and video)

Free to Choose by Milton Friedman: Episode “Created Equal” (Part 2 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 […]

Free to Choose by Milton Friedman: Episode “Created Equal” (Part 1 of transcript and video)

 Milton Friedman and Ronald Reagan Liberals like President Obama (and John Brummett) 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. […]

 
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What does created equal mean according to Milton Friedman?

What does created equal mean according to Milton Friedman?

In his article “A test for first among equals,” Arkansas News Bureau, September 30, 2011, Matthew Pate asserted:

Among the most familiar passages in the Declaration of Independence is the section reading, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Matthew Pate

Who am I to dispute one of the key sentiments contained in the great foundational document of our republic?

 

Even so, I’m disputin’ it.

Namely, I have a problem with the idea that we are all created equal. Perhaps in some abstract sense of tabula rasa, we all emerge from the womb with approximately equal potential, but I am dubious of even that.

This said, I readily, wholly and unequivocally believe we should all be treated as though we were equal, but facts being what they are, we are not all equal.

As someone whose job requires the issuance of class grades, I can fully attest that not all snowflakes are special. They all may be unique and valuable, but some are bright white and some appear to have been visited by sled dogs. Like it or not, we are a people of standards, rankings and competitions.

_______-

The answer to this question of what equality is can be found in the first part of the episode “Created Equal” in the film series FREE TO CHOOSE by Milton Friedman.

Image Detail

 Milton Friedman and Ronald Reagan

Liberals like President Obama (and John Brummett) 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)

Uploaded by on May 30, 2010

In this program, Milton Friedman visits India, the U.S., and Britain, examining the question of equality. He points out that our society traditionally has embraced two kinds of equality: equality before God and equality of opportunity. The first of these implies that human beings enjoy a certain dignity simply because they are members of the human community. The second suggests societies should allow the talents and inclinations of individuals to unfold, free from arbitrary barriers. Both of these concepts of equality are consistent with the goal of personal freedom.

In recent years, there has been growing support for a third type of equality, which Dr. Friedman calls “equality of outcome.” This concept of equality assumes that justice demands a more equal distribution of the economic fruits of society. While admitting the good intentions of those supporting the idea of equality of outcome, Dr. Friedman points out that government policies undertaken in support of this objective are inconsistent with the ideal of personal freedom. Advocates of equality of outcome typically argue that consumers must be protected by government from the insensitivities of the free market place.

Dr. Friedman demonstrates that in countries where governments have pursued the goal of equality of outcome, the differences in wealth and well being between the top and the bottom are actually much greater than in countries that have relied on free markets to coordinate economic activity. Indeed, says Dr. Friedman, it is the ordinary citizen who benefits most from the free market system. Dr. Friedman concludes that any society that puts equality ahead of freedom will end up with neither. But the society that puts freedom before equality will end up with both greater freedom and great equality.

___________________________

FREE TO CHOOSE 5: “Created Equal” (Milton Friedman)
Free to Choose ^ | 1980 | Milton Friedman

Posted on Friday, July 21, 2006 3:58:44 PM by Choose Ye This Day

FREE TO CHOOSE: Created Equal

Friedman: From the Victorian novelists to modern reformers, a favorite device to stir our emotions is to contrast extremes of wealth and of poverty. We are expected to conclude that the rich are responsible for the deprivations of the poor __ that they are rich at the expense of the poor.

Whether it is in the slums of New Delhi or in the affluence of Las Vegas, it simply isn’t fair that there should be any losers. Life is unfair __ there is nothing fair about one man being born blind and another man being born with sight. There is nothing fair about one man being born of a wealthy parent and one of an indigenous parent. There is nothing fair about Mohammed Ali having been born with a skill that enables him to make millions of dollars one night. There is nothing fair about Marleena Detrich having great legs that we all want to watch. There is nothing fair about any of that. But on the other hand, don’t you think a lot of people who like to look at Marleena Detrich’s legs benefited from nature’s unfairness in producing a Marleena Detrich. What kind of a world would it be if everybody was an absolute identical duplicate of anybody else. You might as well destroy the whole world and just keep one specimen left for a museum. In the same way, it’s unfair that Muhammed Ali should be a great fighter and should be able to earn millions. But would it not be even more unfair to the people who like to watch him if you said that in the pursuit of some abstract idea of equality we’re not going to let Muhammed Ali get more for one nights fight than the lowest man on the totem pole can get for a days unskilled work on the docks. You can do that but the result of that would be to deny people the opportunity to watch Mohammad Ali. I doubt very much he would be willing to subject himself to the kind of fights he’s gone through if he were to get the pay of an unskilled docker.

This beautiful estate, its manicured lawns, its trees, its shrubs, was built by men and women who were taken by force in Africa and sold as slaves in America. These kitchen gardens were planted and tended by them to furnish food for themselves and their master, Thomas Jefferson, the Squire of Monticello. It was Jefferson who wrote these words: We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These words penned by Thomas Jefferson at the age of 33 when he wrote the Declaration of Independence, have served to define a basic ideal of the United States throughout its history.

Much of our history has revolved about the definition and redefinition of the concept of equality, about the intent to translate it into practice. What did Thomas Jefferson mean by the words all men are created equal? He surely did not mean that they were equal and/or identical in what they could do and what they believed. After all, he was himself a most remarkable person. At the age of 26, he designed this beautiful house of Monticello, supervised its construction and indeed is said to have worked on it with his own hands. He was an inventor, a scholar, an author, a statesman, governor of Virginia, President of the United States, minister to France, he helped shape and create the United States. What he meant by the word “equal” can be seen in the phrase “endowed by their creator”. To Thomas Jefferson, all men are equal in the eyes of God. They all must be treated as individuals who have each separately a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Of course, practice did not conform to the ideals. In Jefferson’s life or in ours as a nation, he agonized repeatedly during his lifetime about the conflict between the institution of slavery and the fine words of the declaration. Yet, during his whole life, he was a slave owner.

This is the City Palace in Jaipur, the capitol of the Indian state of Rajasthan, is just one of the elegant houses that were built here 150 years ago by the prince who ruled this land. There are no more princes, no more Maharajas in India today. All titles were swept away by the government of India in its quest for equality. But as you can see, there are still some people here who live a very privileged life. The descendants of the Maharajas financed this kind of life partly by using other palaces as hotels for tourists __ tourists who come to India to see how the other half lives. This side of India, the exotic glamorous side, is still very real. Everywhere in the world there are gross inequalities of income and wealth. They offend most of us.

A myth has grown up that free market capitalism increases such inequalities, that the rich benefit at the expense of the poor. Nothing could be further from the truth. Wherever the free market has been permitted to operate, the ordinary man has been able to attain levels of living never dreamed of before. Nowhere is the gap between rich and poor. Nowhere are the rich richer and the poor poorer than in those societies that do not permit the free market to operate, whether they be feudal societies where status determines position, or modern, centrally-planned economies where access to government determines position.

Central planning was introduced in India in considerable part in the name of equality. The tragedy is that after 30 years, it is hard to see any significant improvement in the lot of the ordinary person.

Related posts:

Friedman Friday” Free to Choose by Milton Friedman: Episode “Created Equal” (Part 3 of transcript and video)

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 […]

Free to Choose by Milton Friedman: Episode “Created Equal” (Part 2 of transcript and video)

Free to Choose by Milton Friedman: Episode “Created Equal” (Part 2 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 […]

Free to Choose by Milton Friedman: Episode “Created Equal” (Part 1 of transcript and video)

 Milton Friedman and Ronald Reagan Liberals like President Obama (and John Brummett) 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. […]

 

Friedman Friday” Free to Choose by Milton Friedman: Episode “Created Equal” (Part 3 of transcript and video)

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.

Free to Choose by Milton Friedman: Episode “Created Equal” (Part 2 of transcript and video)

Free to Choose by Milton Friedman: Episode “Created Equal” (Part 2 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 [2/7]. Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose (1980)

___________________________

Ever since the end of World War II, British domestic policy has been dominated by the search for greater equality. Measure after measure has been adopted, designed to take from the rich and give to the poor. Unfortunately, the results have been very different from those that were intended by the high-minded people who were quite properly offended by the class structure that dominated Britain for centuries. There have been vast redistributions of wealth but it is very hard to say that the end result has been a more equitable distribution. Instead, new classes of privilege have been created to replace or supplement the old. The bureaucracy, secure in their jobs protected against inflation both when they work and after they retire. The trade unions, who profess to represent the most down-trodden workers but who in fact consist of the highest paid laborers in the land. The aristocrats of the labor movement and the new millionaires the people who have been cleverest most ingenious at finding ways around the rules, the regulations, the laws that have emanated from over there, who have found ways to avoid paying tax on the income they have acquired. To get their wealth and their money overseas beyond the hands of the tax collector. A vast reshuffling, yes. A greater equity, hardly.

The Hoonde Menuhin school in the south of England is also a place of privilege. Musically talented children from all over the world compete for a chance to come here to study.

Much of the moral fervor behind the drive for equality comes from the widespread belief that it is not fair that some children should have a great advantage over others simply because they happen to have wealthy parents. Of course it is not fair, but is there any distinction between the inheritance of property and the inheritance of what, at first sight, looks very different. These youngsters have inherited wealth, not in the form of bonds or stocks, but in the form of talent. That 15_year_old is an accomplished cellist. His father is a distinguished violinist. It is no accident that most of the children at this school come from musical families. The inheritance of talent is no different from an ethical point of view from the inheritance of other forms of property, of bonds, of stocks, of houses, or of factories. Yet, many people resent the one but not the other.

Or look at the same issues from the point of view of the parent __ if you want to give your child a special chance, there are different ways you can do it. You can buy them an education __ an education that will give him skills enabling him to earn a higher income. Or, you can buy him a business or you can leave him property, the income from which will enable him to live better. Is there any ethical difference between these three ways of using your property, or again, if the state leaves you any money to spend over and above taxes, should you be permitted to spend it on riotous living but not permitted to leave it to your children? The ethical issues involved are subtle and complex. They are not to be resolved by resort to such simplistic formulas as fair shares for all. Indeed, if you took that seriously, it is the youngsters with less musical skills, not those with more, who should be sent to this school in order to compensate for their inherited disadvantage.

When the evening started, all of these players had about the same number of chips in front of them. But as the play progressed they surely didn’t __ some won and some lost. By the end of the evening, some of them will have a big pile of chips, others will have small ones. There will be big winners; there will be big losers. In the name of equality, should the winnings be redistributed to the losers so that everybody ends up where he started? That would take all the fun out of the game, even the losers wouldn’t like that. They might like it tonight, but would they come back again to play if they knew that whatever happened, they would end up exactly where they had started?

What does Las Vegas have to do with the real world? A great deal more than you might think. It is one very important part of our life in highly concentrated form. Every day, all of us are making decisions that involve gambles. Sometimes, they are big gambles, as when we decide what occupation to pursue or whom to marry. More often, they are small gambles as when we decide whether to cross the street against the traffic. But each time, the question is who shall make the decision __ we or somebody else. We can make the decision only if we bear the consequences. That is the economic system that has transformed our society in the past century and more. That is what gave the Henry Fords, the Thomas Alva Edisons, the Christian Barnards, the incentives to produce the miracles that have benefited us all. It’s what gave other people the incentive to provide them with the finance for their ventures. Of course, there were lots of losers along the way. We don’t remember their names, but remember, they went in with their eyes open; they knew what they were doing; and win or lose, we society benefited from their willingness to take a chance.

Lance von Allmen has an idea, he is taking a chance. Who knows, I suppose it is possible that we might all benefit from it one day, but that isn’t why he is taking a chance. He is doing it just because he wants to get rich.

Free to Choose by Milton Friedman: Episode “Created Equal” (Part 1 of transcript and video)

Image Detail

 Milton Friedman and Ronald Reagan

Liberals like President Obama (and John Brummett) 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)

Uploaded by on May 30, 2010

In this program, Milton Friedman visits India, the U.S., and Britain, examining the question of equality. He points out that our society traditionally has embraced two kinds of equality: equality before God and equality of opportunity. The first of these implies that human beings enjoy a certain dignity simply because they are members of the human community. The second suggests societies should allow the talents and inclinations of individuals to unfold, free from arbitrary barriers. Both of these concepts of equality are consistent with the goal of personal freedom.

In recent years, there has been growing support for a third type of equality, which Dr. Friedman calls “equality of outcome.” This concept of equality assumes that justice demands a more equal distribution of the economic fruits of society. While admitting the good intentions of those supporting the idea of equality of outcome, Dr. Friedman points out that government policies undertaken in support of this objective are inconsistent with the ideal of personal freedom. Advocates of equality of outcome typically argue that consumers must be protected by government from the insensitivities of the free market place.

Dr. Friedman demonstrates that in countries where governments have pursued the goal of equality of outcome, the differences in wealth and well being between the top and the bottom are actually much greater than in countries that have relied on free markets to coordinate economic activity. Indeed, says Dr. Friedman, it is the ordinary citizen who benefits most from the free market system. Dr. Friedman concludes that any society that puts equality ahead of freedom will end up with neither. But the society that puts freedom before equality will end up with both greater freedom and great equality.

___________________________

FREE TO CHOOSE 5: “Created Equal” (Milton Friedman)
Free to Choose ^ | 1980 | Milton Friedman

Posted on Friday, July 21, 2006 3:58:44 PM by Choose Ye This Day

FREE TO CHOOSE: Created Equal

Friedman: From the Victorian novelists to modern reformers, a favorite device to stir our emotions is to contrast extremes of wealth and of poverty. We are expected to conclude that the rich are responsible for the deprivations of the poor __ that they are rich at the expense of the poor.

Whether it is in the slums of New Delhi or in the affluence of Las Vegas, it simply isn’t fair that there should be any losers. Life is unfair __ there is nothing fair about one man being born blind and another man being born with sight. There is nothing fair about one man being born of a wealthy parent and one of an indigenous parent. There is nothing fair about Mohammed Ali having been born with a skill that enables him to make millions of dollars one night. There is nothing fair about Marleena Detrich having great legs that we all want to watch. There is nothing fair about any of that. But on the other hand, don’t you think a lot of people who like to look at Marleena Detrich’s legs benefited from nature’s unfairness in producing a Marleena Detrich. What kind of a world would it be if everybody was an absolute identical duplicate of anybody else. You might as well destroy the whole world and just keep one specimen left for a museum. In the same way, it’s unfair that Muhammed Ali should be a great fighter and should be able to earn millions. But would it not be even more unfair to the people who like to watch him if you said that in the pursuit of some abstract idea of equality we’re not going to let Muhammed Ali get more for one nights fight than the lowest man on the totem pole can get for a days unskilled work on the docks. You can do that but the result of that would be to deny people the opportunity to watch Mohammad Ali. I doubt very much he would be willing to subject himself to the kind of fights he’s gone through if he were to get the pay of an unskilled docker.

This beautiful estate, its manicured lawns, its trees, its shrubs, was built by men and women who were taken by force in Africa and sold as slaves in America. These kitchen gardens were planted and tended by them to furnish food for themselves and their master, Thomas Jefferson, the Squire of Monticello. It was Jefferson who wrote these words: We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These words penned by Thomas Jefferson at the age of 33 when he wrote the Declaration of Independence, have served to define a basic ideal of the United States throughout its history.

Much of our history has revolved about the definition and redefinition of the concept of equality, about the intent to translate it into practice. What did Thomas Jefferson mean by the words all men are created equal? He surely did not mean that they were equal and/or identical in what they could do and what they believed. After all, he was himself a most remarkable person. At the age of 26, he designed this beautiful house of Monticello, supervised its construction and indeed is said to have worked on it with his own hands. He was an inventor, a scholar, an author, a statesman, governor of Virginia, President of the United States, minister to France, he helped shape and create the United States. What he meant by the word “equal” can be seen in the phrase “endowed by their creator”. To Thomas Jefferson, all men are equal in the eyes of God. They all must be treated as individuals who have each separately a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Of course, practice did not conform to the ideals. In Jefferson’s life or in ours as a nation, he agonized repeatedly during his lifetime about the conflict between the institution of slavery and the fine words of the declaration. Yet, during his whole life, he was a slave owner.

This is the City Palace in Jaipur, the capitol of the Indian state of Rajasthan, is just one of the elegant houses that were built here 150 years ago by the prince who ruled this land. There are no more princes, no more Maharajas in India today. All titles were swept away by the government of India in its quest for equality. But as you can see, there are still some people here who live a very privileged life. The descendants of the Maharajas financed this kind of life partly by using other palaces as hotels for tourists __ tourists who come to India to see how the other half lives. This side of India, the exotic glamorous side, is still very real. Everywhere in the world there are gross inequalities of income and wealth. They offend most of us.

A myth has grown up that free market capitalism increases such inequalities, that the rich benefit at the expense of the poor. Nothing could be further from the truth. Wherever the free market has been permitted to operate, the ordinary man has been able to attain levels of living never dreamed of before. Nowhere is the gap between rich and poor. Nowhere are the rich richer and the poor poorer than in those societies that do not permit the free market to operate, whether they be feudal societies where status determines position, or modern, centrally-planned economies where access to government determines position.

Central planning was introduced in India in considerable part in the name of equality. The tragedy is that after 30 years, it is hard to see any significant improvement in the lot of the ordinary person.

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