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on 6 June 2017
A good book for a gift
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on 24 May 2017
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on 1 July 2014
A good book. I recommend also reading books that highlight issues with capitalism such as the Darwin Economy by Franck
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on 9 March 2017
Good read..
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on 4 July 2013
Can't ignore the power of this man's convictions even if latterly he has been proved to be somewhat limited in visionary prowess.
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on 24 October 2015
Excellent product
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on 8 August 2017
Mr Friedman. Excellent as always.
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on 18 April 2011
The book is of course a classic. I don't want to give a detailed academic review or critique, because I'm not qualified. I just want to explain its personal relevance to me.

I came to this after thinking about abstract questions after the financial crash in 2008. What are the theoretical justifications for the free market? What are the theoretical / pragmatic justifications for regulation? Should banks be regulated more? How can capitalism be evolved to reduce the risk of financial crises? How can capitalism deal with the risks of climate change if the costs of climate change are not priced into the market?

Friedman's philosophy is pretty right-wing.... Flat rate income tax of 20% (if I recall correctly). Privatise pretty much everything. But not *everything*. Some government spending is justified because of so-called neighborhood effects. E.g., subsidise poor families to send their kids to school. If not, society as a whole loses out. Some government regulation is justified. E.g., regulation to reduce environmental harm. If not, the market will allow environmental harm and society as a whole will lose out.

This book is pretty much the bible for a huge school of liberal economics that is prevalent in many parts of the world. It's important to read it, *especially* if you are not convinced by the free market. Sometimes I wanted the author to go further with his arguments. For example, he certainly didn't convince me about flat-rate taxation (his main argument appeared to be that tax avoidance is easier to avoid if there is a flat-rate). However, all in all, this is a classic that is worth reading for its rhetoric, breadth (it talks about so many areas of government policy), and importance.
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on 13 July 2015
Milton Friedman is one of the most notable economists of the 20th century; his fresh vein of economic understanding inspired by the works of eminent economists such as Ludwig Von Mises or Frederick Bastiat, grapples with the problem the world faces today from a classically liberal, or libertarian, perspective. In ‘Capitalism and Freedom’, Friedman sets out his ideas for a vastly stripped back government and extremely low levels of income tax, or no income tax at all. Many current politicians try to emulate this idea of low tax and more freedom, notably Ron Paul, the GOP candidate in the 2008 US presidential election. These ideas have attracted much controversy over the years and he has been attacked by many Post-Keynesian economists for his faith in the market and criticised by some Austrian economists for his monetary policy.
Friedman, in his observations of both the market and the world, sees a clear correlation between economic and political freedom and as freedom is his ultimate goal, he argues for capitalism and at the same time attacks socialism for its restriction of freedom; he refers to socialism as ‘force’ because of the (sometimes considerable) taxes that the government places on both individuals and corporations, whilst capitalism is freedom, hence the title of the book. He then elaborates on this, saying that socialism is the collective ownership of the means of production. Friedman then goes on to explain that if the means of production are controlled by the government then one is unable to protest or campaign against the statist left wing government as they can restrict your ability to do so by not allowing access to paper, ink, printing presses etc., as well as sanctions being able to be placed which restrict access to healthcare or education as a form of coercion. This analysis is still relevant today in that state-owned entities are a product of force and are woefully inefficient, such as the modern day National Health Service in Britain.
Friedman ranges widely elsewhere throughout this economic epic; from the role of government in a free society (which is to ‘be a referee, not an active player’). This deals with the myth that libertarians are anarchists, as Murray Rothbard was, and shows that there is still a role to play for government in a libertarian state. He goes on to argue that capitalism in its purest form cannot discriminate and as fellow libertarian Thomas Sowell puts it, ‘the only colour that matters is green’, referring to the green of money and the dollar in one such system. Also advocating voluntary exchange, Friedman successfully demonstrates that in a free market, every transaction is mutually beneficial, which should be an attractive concept to all.
Overall, some may see Friedman’s book as a damning and possibly reactionary attack on socialism and communism, however the ideas argued within the pages present an alternative worldview based on liberty and freedom. This book makes an exciting read for anyone with an interest in economics, politics or business.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 10 July 2013
Reading Milton Friedman for the first time can be an overwhelming experience. The wealth of ideas coupled with the wry delivery and almost John the Baptist like certitude with which he preaches his version of the economic gospel all make for a challenging, if not occasionally infuriating read.

The central pillars of Friedman's thinking are deceptively simple but the consequences should they ever be fully enacted by any government would be profound. Friedman feels that government is `guilty' until proved `innocent'. Government equals power over individuals, waste, inappropriate resource distribution and the indulgence of what economists call `rent seeking' special interest groups. Governments want to tax, regulate, control and disperse revenues and favours to suit their own particular agendas. Even when they are trying to act in the public interest, governments frequently make matters worse. Extra taxes lead to disincentive effects, extra spending leads to inflation and interventions like minimum wage legislation lead to increased unemployment. The list of potential and actual government failings are lovingly documented by the author. The relish with which he grinds out his dismal litany of state mismanagement and corruption is almost disconcerting, but it is entertaining.

So what are governments for? Well in time honoured Libertarian fashion, as little as possible.
Government should be about up -holding the rights of citizens and business to operate in accordance with their own best interests. So the protection of property rights, the proper fulfilment of contracts and basic civil liberties. Just about everything else can be resolved by the market. This is where Friedman gets serious. He takes on issues that softy `mixed- market' types think of as sacred and untouchable. Discrimination, inequality, education, protection of farm incomes, industrial competition and licensing of occupations, all come under the Friedman hammer. His argument is that government by `featherbedding' unions, producer groups or favourite causes at high costs and nearly always to the disadvantage of citizens and not infrequently the particular groups themselves do more harm than good. He backs up his position with some pretty convincing arguments and reference to data (sadly getting a little out¬¬-dated and relates only the USA) or particular case studies.
If you give markets the chance he argues, they will supply the answer. Discriminating employers for instance will be landed with higher costs and lower profits as they hire the more expensive labour that suits their particular tastes. One of the great advantages he posits is that like love, capitalism is blind. It only seeks the most efficient use of resources and the lowest costs. Your religion, gender, colour or cultural background is simply irrelevant in the market place, just as long as you are competitive. So what need for government if the market as an unintended consequence promotes higher incomes, employment and civil rights?

So where is the flaw in all this free market evangelism? Friedman is rather too keen to down play the virtue of good governance. At least governments are elected and at play lip service to the idea of improving the lot of citizens. Governments are accountable in a way that big business can never be if left to themselves. Monopoly capitalism may confer benefits but competition and choice are not necessarily at the top of the list, viz the 'Robber Barons of late Nineteenth century American industry and finance. Likewise businesses need regulating - why should citizens be left at the mercy of the unscrupulous or the incompetent? Not forgetting of course markets have innate instability built in- inflation, unemployment and issues of social provision cannot or will not always be addressed by the market. When the economy is growing, Friedman wants government to take its foot off the brake, but when there are problems such as the 1929 `Great Crash', he wants to blame government for the `high spirits' of the market. Come on Milton, you can't have it both ways!!

`Capitalism and Freedom' provides great insight into Libertarian economics. It entertains, engages (and enrages on occasion) but is very clear in its line of argument. As a book it is aging gracefully. The data is rather old and very selectively used but the ideas still have much relevance for us all today. Recommended.
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