New book publishes little-known essays by economist Milton Friedman

As an ardent admirer of Milton Friedman and his strong intellect, it was a pleasant surprise to learn that a new book titled “The Indispensable Milton Friedman: Essays on Politics and Economics” is being published by author and Friedman biographer Lanny Ebenstein.

Friedman, who would have turned 100 years old this past summer, wrote historical and philosophical essays on politics and economics.  These essays were written throughout his entire distinguished career.  In an interview with the Daily Caller, Ebenstein notes one particular essay that was written by Friedman to conservative commentator Bill Bennett, who was then the director of National Drug Control Policy for President Ronald Reagan, and urging him to reconsider his position on the war on drugs.

“Friedman supported the complete legalization of all drugs,” Ebenstein explains. “He took this position for both practical and philosophical reasons. From the philosophical standpoint, he believed that individuals should have the right to put in their body whatever they wish. From the practical standpoint, he thought that the costs of the war on drugs exceed the benefits.”

The libertarian economist was a crusader for free markets, freedom liberty and personal responsibility.  His articulate explanations, whether it was through his documentary series “Free to Choose” or his book “Capitalism and Freedom,” he helped college students understand how government is a hindrance rather than a promoter of prosperity.

Although much of the libertarian community cites Murray N. Rothbard, Ludwig von Mises, Henry Hazlitt and others as inspirations for libertarianism, most likely because his stance on monetary policy, Friedman (in this writer’s humble opinion) helped the mainstream public understand limited government, drug legalization, less taxes, less regulation and even a school voucher program.

Here are some excerpts from the article:

“What policies would Friedman have recommended to get us out of our current economic predicament?

“Friedman would have recommend lower taxes rather than government spending to increase economic activity. He would have favored less government regulation, particularly of small business. He would have advocated increased domestic energy production. He would have advocated reform of Social Security and Medicare. He would have opposed the excessive compensation of public employee unions.

“Who were Friedman’s most important economic disciples? With Friedman gone, who is the most important living conservative/libertarian economist?

“Friedman’s most important disciples certainly include Robert Lucas and Gary Becker of the University of Chicago and Thomas Sowell of the Hoover Institution at Stanford. Of these three, Sowell is probably the most important living conservative/libertarian economist.

“What would Friedman have made of the two current presidential candidates’ economic policies?

“Friedman would undoubtedly have endorsed Mitt Romney for president. Friedman was a strong supporter of many Republican presidential candidates, especially Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan. Friedman undoubtedly would have supported aspects of Romney’s economic policies calling for less government spending and lower taxation. With respect to President Obama, Friedman undoubtedly would have opposed both Obamacare and the fiscal stimulus.”

Like this article? Get ECN delivered to your inbox daily. Subscribe here.

Comments

  1. It’s time for us all to stop being ignorant hypocrites and start being “true” conservatives!

    Pragmatic libertarians (minimal-statists) and true conservatives agree that many, if not most, of society’s problems are caused by government usurping choices that could better be made by individuals themselves, and that government is just about the worst way of doing almost anything. Where libertarianism normally parts company with “fake” conservatism is over moral issues. But a true conservative would have no problem with agreeing that what people do with their own bodies, and especially in the privacy of their own home, should be supremely their business and that anything else would entail ignoring the basic tenet of limited government.

    Fake-conservatism on the other hand has much in common with socialism. Authoritarian-socialists and fake-conservatives appear to harbor the belief that nature does not exist and that any human can be “re-educated” into being anything society wishes. Leftists therefore tend to believe that little boys can be conditioned into preferring dolls over toy soldiers, and similarly, fake-conservatives believe that adults can be coerced into choosing alcohol over marijuana. A true conservative, just like a pragmatic libertarian, would immediately reject both ideas as nonsense.

    If you support prohibition then you are NOT a conservative.
    Conservative principles quite clearly are:

    1) Limited, locally controlled government.
    2) Individual liberty coupled with personal responsibility.
    3) Free enterprise.
    4) A strong national defense.
    5) Fiscal responsibility.

    Prohibition is actually an authoritarian war on our economy and Constitution.

    It’s all about market and cost/benefit analysis. Whether any particular drug is good, bad, or otherwise is irrelevant. As long as there is demand for any mind altering substance there WILL be supply—THE END! The only affect prohibiting it has is to drive the price up while increasing the costs and profits – and where there is illegal profit to be made criminals and terrorists thrive.

Leave a Comment