In a truly democratic country every voter can influence the scope and style of Government in their country by participating in elections. This book provides the definitive explanation of the relative advantages of the Free Market compared to Government Intervention. In essence, the argument for more or less Government intervention into the lives of citizens. This is the fundamental issue facing society today. Anybody intending to vote and especially everybody who has been or expects to be elected to public office should read this book and understand the arguments presented.
Milton Friedman, winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics, wrote this book with his wife Rose and created a companion TV series. His essential thesis is that while Free Markets and Capitalism have obvious problems, no other system yet invented offers a better solution. In particular he offers compelling arguments that the poor and less fortunate are far better off in a free society with free markets than they are under a system of Government control such as Socialism even when those in favour of Government intervention have good intentions. This book is a good read and the sheer brilliance of Milton's intellect shines on almost every page and makes this book a great read. Milton will challenge many opinions you hold and will open your mind to new ways at looking at problems. I read a lot and this book is the most valuable I have read so far. Milton's earlier book "Capitalism and Freedom" is very valuable too. It is probably best to read it before "Free to Choose."
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THE BOOK ACCOMPANYING THE 1980 PBS TV SERIES16 Feb. 2012
Steven H Propp
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Milton Friedman (1912-2006) was an American economist who taught at the University of Chicago (and was the leader of the "Chicago school"); he received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1976, and wrote/cowrote books such as A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960, Money Mischief: Episodes in Monetary History, Bright Promises, Dismal Performance: An Economist's Protest, Tyranny of the Status Quo, Capitalism & Freedom: A Leading Economist's View of the Proper Role of Competitive Capitalism, etc.
This book is the written accompaniment to a 10-episode TV series on PBS that Friedman did (at least partly in response to John Kenneth Galbraith's 1977 series, The Age of Uncertainty) in 1980. He notes in the Preface that "the TV series and the book are very different... The book covers many items that the time constraints of the TV programs made it necessary to omit or allude to only briefly." (You can still obtain the TV series: Free To Choose: The Updated and Revised Television Series)
A recurring theme is that "Self-interest is not myopic selfishness. It is whatever it is that interests the participants, whatever they value, whatever goals they pursue." The scientist, the missionary, the philanthropist "are all pursuing their interests, as they see them." (Pg. 27)
He asserts that the ideal of "equality of outcome" (which "has emerged in the United States in recent decades") is "in clear conflict with liberty." (Pg. 128) He further states that "A society that puts equality... ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom." (Pg. 148)
He strongly supports the idea of school vouchers; however, he admits that there would be some "transitional difficulties," and there is a possibility that some public schools would be left with "the dregs," becoming "even poorer in quality than they are now." However, he believes that as the private school market took over, the overall quality would be better in "absolute quality," even if the poor schools were lower "relatively." (Pg. 170)
He makes the argument that pollution "is not an objective phenomenon. One person's pollution may be another person's pleasure. To some of us rock music is noise pollution; to others of us it is pleasure." (Pg. 215)
He states soberly that the Socialist party was the "most influential political party in the United States" in the first decades of the 20th century because "it could afford to be a party of principle," and despite its small size, "almost every economic plank in its 1928 presidential platform has by now been enacted into law." (Pg. 286-287)
He concludes that "Inflation is a monetary phenomenon arising from a more rapid increase in the quantity of money than in output"; government determines the quantity of money, and the only cure for inflation is "a slower rate of increase in the quantity of money," and that "side effects of the cure are unavoidable." (Pg. 281-282)
Consciously intended for a mass audience, this is perhaps the most "accessible" introduction to Friedman available.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A timeless Masterpiece in Economic theory2 Jan. 2015
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The famous Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman has championed the cause of free market economics. At a time when a greater part of the world lived in socialist societies, he showed the world the true benefits of economics based on the concept of freedom. He argues and clarifies many misconstrued ideas on regulation and government intervention. His penetrating analysis on various subjects is a very educational read. Amazingly, he addressed the problems and also provided solutions to them. His logic, communication style and ability to convince the reader are spectacular.
If you are an economics student, it will be one of the most important books you will ever read. I don’t agree with his philosophy entirely especially about monetary policy, environment and education. However, I give it up to his brilliant mind. It takes courage to be as imaginative open minded as him, to so aggressively push his ideas into governmental change in the United States and Latin American countries such as Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and many others which have been directly or indirectly influenced by his ideas through his students, who are more popularly known as the “Chicago Boys.” It remains a subject of popular debate as to whether such influence has resulted in good or bad of these nations. If one has to compare the two extreme beliefs, it would be Free market theory as against Communism. They are bipolar opposites of each other. It is a thought provoking book and deserves five stars!
One Economics science essential book you should read19 Feb. 2015
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Economy Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman and Rose Friedman wrote this essential book to understand liberalism in 1979. Of course it is centered in the issues that troubled American economy in the seventies, like inflation, the rise of central authority and numerous departments of state, Oil crisis, etc. But the methodology and limitations of a huge government are quite clearly explained in this book, and those issues are still immensely important today as can be seen by the current European sovereign debt crisis.
Most “good intentions” and paternalistic government take a big toll, and the final results are never what we would desire. Responsibility and individual freedom; information and personal effort can direct the lives of a society better than a powerful government filled with armies of very well paid bureaucrats who obviously will try to appear indispensable to the running of the state. Excellent questions are raised like the fact that the transferences of money from poor classes are financing wealthier citizens in the public higher education (due to the fact that almost all higher, high- middle and middle class young person’s attend university but the lower middle class and poor rarely do (but their taxes also go to that end) – the educational voucher solution for the poor would help mitigate this situation, and the higher classes can pay the attendance). The failure of “protection” institutes in helping the citizen are also analyzed among many other interesting subjects.
Some things I must strongly disagree with Friedman like the environmental issues for example. But in the late seventies those issues weren’t as catastrophic as today. The solution of taxing polluters (to transfer money from the polluters to the society they are affecting) proposed by the authors aren’t enough – maximum pollution must be applied, or we risk having an inhabitable very wealthy planet…
Even so, if you are free to read any book, you should read this one. It is useful not only for defenders of free market but even for proponents of socialism and communism so they can find the weak spots in their systems and correct them with new ideas.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Free Markets Work10 Jun. 2013
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Milton Friedman is the Noble Prize winner that all left wing progressives hate. In Free to Choose, Friedman destroys socialism and the Marxist mindset. For every version of utopia socialist are able to put forth, Friedman destroys and causes the reader to think the opposite of what is taught in todays classrooms. You can talk voodoo with Paul Krugman but to understand economics, you have to go to Dr Milton Friedman. .