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Why Government is the Problem (Essays in Public Policy)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 30 March 2013
Essentially a pamphlet that might take the average reader a little less than half an hour of effort to get through. There are two central ideas here. Firstly and not surprisingly, markets 'do it 'better. If a good or service needs to produced at all or in sufficient quantity,then reduce regulation, allow prices to provide incentives by getting the government to leave citizens and businesses alone. Secondly and as importantly,is the notion of 'concentrated benefits and diffuse costs' as a way of explaining the inertia of government bureaucracy. Namely that there are too many interested parties in maintaining the status quo. As the costs are spread amongst millions of tax payers, any expansion of government spending is barely noticed by citizens. So tax payers,especially if they are the beneficiaries of governmental largesse will either be neutral or welcoming of such generosity.

Freidman has a direct, unvarnished prose style, but there is also a hint of humour and humanity to level matters. For instance he asks the question, if the industry can produce all the cars needed,why is the production of roads by government not able to keep up with demand? Obviously, the government has failed. He is of course being disingenuous. Roads require planing, consent of stakeholders and evaluation of possible social and private need. Witness what happens when planning and the rights of citizens are ignored- the various railway booms of mid-Victorian Britain, where lines were constructed that had little or no chance of being profitable, leading to spectacular financial loss and a degraded countryside. Similar issues exist in many Less Developed Nations where land rights are ignored, leading to loss of habitat, social inequity and a lack of possible investment. So, government must some role to play, the exact question is , just how much?

'Why Government is the Problem' is a persuasively written and illuminating essay, that would especially appeal to those readers who would like to dip their intellectual toes in the clear water of free market economics.
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 20 September 2008
Perhaps few economists have been as critical of government intervention into free market economies as Milton Friedman. In this essay on public policy, first published in 1993, he suggests that self-interest of same people when they are engaged in the private sector and government results in an administrative system which is longer controlled by "We the people". He ventures even further to suggest that the elected representatives often morph into bureaucrats themselves, adding another dimension to why the Government may be perceived as the problem.

Articulating his thoughts, Friedman splits the essay into initially demonstrating that the government is the problem and then explaining why and where those problems hit home. In doing so, he makes a number of remarks which one may or may not agree with depending on one's point of view. For instance, he states that once governments embark on a particular activity, whether it is desirable or not, people both in Government and private sector acquire a vested interest in it. So even if the initial reason disappears, there is still a strong incentive to continue regardless.

Elsewhere, he argues that the U.S. while preaching principles of free market economies and benefits of privatisation to the wider world, itself rather paradoxically and circumstantially drifts between protectionism and socialism from time to time. I enjoyed reading it immensely and would recommend it as a reference source for Friedmanites, economists, public policy analysts and economics students alike. Following the essay, this edition contains the transcript of a question and answer session with Friedman which is also quite interesting.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 14 February 2013
Agreat little book,after reading this one realises what amarvelous superb man milton friedman was a huge loss to all free thinking people
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on 21 August 2014
Small clear concise book. Great valuable presentation of facts.
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on 2 February 2015
good read
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13 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 10 April 2001
This book studies the nature and reasons for government intervention. Friedman at first outlines the flaws in government intervention and secondly examines the cause and roots of these flaws.
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5 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Interesting little book to read but it really is only a few pages long. The writer firmly believes that everything that the government dabbles in is a complete waste of money ie Health and Education. He could be right in some ways but of course it would end with very patchy services and sometimes no service which is the main reason for government intervention paid for by taxes.
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