Milton Friedman

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Nobel prizewinner (economics), and one of the foremost propagandists for capitalism. Married to Rose Friedman, son David Friedman. One of his major propaganda strategems was to encourage confusion of Free Market Theory with unregulated markets, referring to both as "free market"


10 'Intellectuals' Who Influenced 'Libertarian' Fascism [More...]
Murray Rothbard, Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman, Friedrich von Hayek, H.L. Mencken, Ayn Rand, Ron Paul, Lew Rockwell, Stefan Molyneux, and Hans-Hermann Hoppe. A YouTube video documentary.
Against Friedman: Outline of a Winchian critique of positivist economics [More...]
Rupert Read's paper in progress finds fatal flaws in Milton Friedman's "The methodology of positive economics".
Capitalism And Freedom (Robert Nielsen review) [More...]
"Before I read the book, I knew I would not agree with it. Even still, I was shocked at how poor an argument Friedman makes and his complete aversion to using evidence to support his claims. His defence of discrimination is disgraceful and unbelievable."
Discussion Questions For "Free To Choose" [More...]
Brad DeLong's guide to understanding Free To Choose through questions, the second assignment in his Spring 2012 Econ 1 course at UC Berkeley. The overview points out the skewed idea of freedom being used.
Economic Realism (Wonkish) [More...]
A discussion of how realistic economic models should be, and for what purpose. Includes a good criticism of Milton Friedman.
Economics is Philosophy, Economics is Not Science [More...]
Rupert Read claims that economics makes a pretense of being scientific, but is really political philosophy.
Economists Should Stop Defending Milton Friedman’s Pseudo-science [More...]
"The purview of science, as I saw it then and still see it today, is to understand and explain the subject matter of a scientific discipline. This cannot be done by simply cataloging when a theory works and the magnitude of errors when it does not, and yet Friedman’s engineering view of science has stood at the very core of mainstream economics for well over sixty years."
Economists used to be the priests of free markets -- now they’re just a bunch of engineers [More...]
Economics is being rescued from libertarianism. "[...] most economists favor government intervention in the economy in a wide range of areas, including income redistribution, minimum wage laws, environmental regulation, anti-discrimination laws, and others (and that was before the financial crisis!)"
Fanatical, Not Reasonable: A Short Correspondence Between Walter E. Block and Milton Friedman (on Friedrich Hayek ’s Road to Serfdom) [More...]
Milton Friedman did not like Walter Block's review of Friedrich von Hayek's The Road to Serfdom. Friedman is very harsh: "you are a fanatic who finds it absolutely impossible to understand the thinking of anybody other than himself." Block is a smarmy, absolutist gasbag in response.
Free To Choose (book, online) (4 links)
(1981) Milton Friedman and Rose Director Friedman's major propaganda success for market-based everything.
Free to Choose: A Personal Statement (book, online)
Greedy Reductionism (3 links)
A philosophical crime of trying to explain too much with a single principle. Typical of almost all libertarianism.
Hayek, Friedman, and the Illusions of Conservative Economics [More...]
Robert Solow's review of "The Great Persuasion: Reinventing Free Markets since the Depression" By Angus Burgin. His view of the Mont Pelerin Society's transition from the leadership of Friedrich von Hayek to Milton Friedman.
How Thomas Piketty Destroys Libertarian Talking Points [More...]
"The wrong-headed policies promoted by libertarians and their ilk, who hate any form of tax on the rich, such as inheritance taxes, have ensured that big fortunes in America are getting bigger, and they will play a much more prominent role in the direction of our society and economy if we continue on the present path."
Is Life Unfair? Milton Friedman and John Rawls [More...]
John Rawls smacks down Milton Friedman's idea of passivity in the face of inequality.
Markets do it better and cheaper than government. Not. (1 link)
A common propaganda claim from Milton Friedman. Patently untrue for a number of market failures. An additional problem is that the products would be different, sometimes in undesirable ways, because markets have no incentive to create positive externalities
Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics (book, online)
"Based on archival research and interviews with leading participants in the movement, Masters of the Universe traces the ascendancy of neoliberalism from the academy of interwar Europe to supremacy under Reagan and Thatcher and in the decades since."
Milton Friedman and David Glasner: Real and Pseudo Gold Standards [More...]
David Glasner identifies many flaws in Milton Friedman's paper “Real and Pseudo Gold Standards”. Brad DeLong interprets it as a political peacemaking tool, rather than a real academic paper.
Milton Friedman on Corporations [More...]
"If corporations have no social responsibility, then presumably they are, in abstract, permitted to steal, defraud and coerce for their customers and shareholders?"
Milton Friedman on Illegal Immigration [More...]
Milton Friedman makes a number of erroneous claims about immigration.
Milton Friedman's Magical Thinking [More...]
Dani Rodrik explains how Milton Friedman "blinded us to the evident reality that all successful economies are, in fact, mixed."
Milton Friedman, Unperson [More...]
Paul Krugman points out that Friedman's two major contributions to macroeconomics now seem unsupportable. "So Friedman has vanished from the policy scene -- so much so that I suspect that a few decades from now, historians of economic thought will regard him as little more than an extended footnote."
Milton Friedman: a study in failure [More...]
Milton Friedman's most successful influence in government policy was one he regretted: creating the income withholding tax.
Milton Friedman: Being wrong is no hindrance when you empower the rich [More...]
"An obituary for Milton Friedman. Being consistently wrong does not stop you being considered a great economist, as long as it is what the ruling elite wants to hear." An anarchist viewpoint.
Milton Friedman’s Distortions [More...]
"He is generally perceived as able to shut down arguments from the left with simple, easy to understand, often amusing one liners. However, I have always found him unconvincing, and here I hope to show why."
Milton Friedman’s Rabble-Rousing Case for Abolishing the Fed [More...]
"But although Friedman was often sensitive to the subtleties and nuances of policy making when rendering scholarly historical and empirical judgments, he rarely allowed subtleties and nuances to encroach on his denunciations when he was operating in full rabble-rousing mode."
Modern Iceland (1 link)
Iceland's Independence Party made radical reforms inspired by and praised by Milton Friedman. These ended with a spectacular banking crash in 2009.
PBS TV Series "Free to Choose" by Economist Milton Friedman [More...]
The television version of Free To Choose that preceded the book.
Shareholder Capitalism (4 links)
Milton Friedman's harmful idea that the sole purpose of a firm is to make money for its shareholders.
Sweden’s School Choice Disaster [More...]
"Advocates for school choice might be shocked to see how badly the country’s experiment with vouchers failed." Provides a balanced look at international performance of Charter Schools and public schools.
The correct way to argue with Milton Friedman [More...]
[...] listen out for the words “Let us assume” or “Let’s suppose” and immediately jump in and say “No, let’s not assume that”.
The Failed Prophet: As Wall Street collapses, so does Milton Friedman’s legacy. [More...]
Senator Bernie Sanders writes about the Milton Friedman Institute: "Friedman’s ideology caused enormous damage to the American middle class and to working families here and around the world. It is not an ideology that a great institution like the University of Chicago should be seeking to advance."
The Failures Of Milton Friedman [More...]
With classic objectivist zeal, Slade Mendenhall is affronted because Milton Friedman criticized fellow libertarians Ayn Rand and Ludwig von Mises. His solution? Criticize Milton Friedman, with extra bonus points for strawmen and misrepresentation.
The True History of Libertarianism in America: A Phony Ideology to Promote a Corporate Agenda [More...]
"Before Milton Friedman was earning plaudits as an economic genius, he was a shill for the real estate industry and an early pioneer for big business propaganda known as libertarianism."
The White Ignorance of Milton Friedman [More...]
Milton Friedman's flawed, ahistorical excuses for libertarian revisionist history about slavery, discrimination, racism and other sins of capitalism. Still repeated endlessly by libertarians today.
This is such a big heap of partisan right-wing bullshit that there must be a pony in there somewhere! [More...]
Daniel Davies explains to Brad DeLong that Milton Friedman was a political hack (in addition to being an excellent economist.) "The ideological core of Chicago-style libertarianism has two planks. 1. Vote Republican. 2. That's it."
Trends in Income From 1975 to 2018 [More...]
"From 1975 to 2018, the difference between the aggregate income for those below the 90th percentile and the equitable growth counterfactual totals $47 trillion... those with incomes below the 90th percentile lost a sizable share of their economic power over the last four decades..."
We were shocked: RAND study uncovers massive income shift to the top 1% [More...]
"The median worker should be making as much as $102,000 annually—if some $2.5 trillion wasn’t being “reverse distributed” every year away from the working class."
What Color Tie Do You Vote For? [More...]
The relationship between "freedom" and "economic freedom" is not as simple as Milton Friedman would have it.
What's wrong with Milton Friedman's economics? [More...]
A good look at the important problems with his views that Friedman just ignores.
When Congress Busted Milton Friedman (And Libertarianism Was Created By Big Business Business Lobbyists) [More...]
Milton Friedman wrote propaganda for the Foundation for Economic Education, considered the first libertarian think-tank. "That is how libertarianism started: As an arm of big business lobbying."
Who Was Milton Friedman [More...]
Paul Krugman reviews three roles. The third (section 4), is "Friedman the ideologue, the great popularizer of free-market doctrine." "Friedman’s effectiveness as a popularizer and propagandist rested in part on his well-deserved reputation as a profound economic theorist."
Who Was Milton Friedman? [More...]
Paul Krugman reviews three roles.
Why libertarians apologize for autocracy [More...]
Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich von Hayek, Milton Friedman, the Cato Institute and Hans-Hermann Hoppe all have expressed preferences for autocratic rule instead of democratic rule.
Yet Another Note on Mont Pelerin: Thinking Some More About Bob Solow’s View… [More...]
Brad DeLong sees a good Hayek, a bad Hayek, and a political economy Hayek. The three are inconsistent. He (citing Solow) compares their faults to those of Milton Friedman.


[...] here in America "libertarianism" is a Frankenstein's monster that got its lightning-bolt juice from massive resistance to the Civil Rights Movement. Dismantling the New Deal and rolling back the social insurance state were not ideas that had much potential political-economy juice back in the 1950s and 1960s. But if the economic libertarian cause of dismantling the New Deal could be harnessed to the cause of white supremacy—if one of the key liberties that libertarians were fighting to defend was the liberty to discriminate against and oppress the Negroes—than all of a sudden you could have a political movement that might get somewhere. And so James Buchanan and the other libertarians to the right of Milton Friedman made the freedom to discriminate—or perhaps the power to discriminate?—a key one of the liberties that they were fighting for in their fight against BIG GOVERNMENT. And this has poisoned American libertarianism ever since.
Brad DeLong, "A Lazy New Year's Eve Morn on Twitter..."
Your tone is that of a theologian examining scripture, not a social scientist tackling existing institutions to improve them, or an open-minded analyst of partial improvements. You treat Hayek as if he didn’t understand the simple largely a priori principles of economic analysis that constitute your armory. Truth to tell, he was trying to analyze a far more complex reality than you are prepared to admit exists. There are indeed market failures, externalities, conflicts of “ultimate” values, ruled out by logic but not by imperfect human understanding. Every question does not have a simple logical answer.
Milton Friedman on Walter Block, "Fanatical, Not Reasonable: A Short Correspondence Between Walter E. Block and Milton Friedman (on Friedrich Hayek ’s Road to Serfdom)"
Milton Friedman asks us to think of a tree, with leaves, in the sunlight. Consider the density of the leaves around different parts of the tree. “I suggest,” says Friedman, “that the leaves are positioned as if each leaf deliberately sought to maximize the amount of sunlight it receives, given the position of its neighbors, as if it knew the physical laws determining the amount of sunlight that would be received in various positions and could move rapidly or instantaneously from any one position to any other desired and unoccupied position.” And thus we are distracted from the fact that in real life whole branches die off to achieve this distribution. And other trees are killed as their light is cut off.
Mike Huben, "Mike Huben's Criticisms"
People smoke in large part because they have been persuaded to. Persuaded by a tobacco culture carefully nurtured by the tobacco industry. Persuaded by an industry that suppressed hazards of smoking for decades after they were known. Persuaded by an industry that knew its product was addictive, and knew it had to addict juveniles to maintain the smoking population. This history is well known from internal tobacco company documents. You can pretend that the word "choose" absolves those corporations from all responsibility: but even libertarians shouldn't accept that. Otherwise, there would be no prohibition against fraud. People must make choices to be defrauded. The folks who invested with Bernard Madoff chose their investments, but that does not absolve Madoff. Nor are tobacco companies absolved because people chose to smoke. Those people were persuaded by an industry that spent enormous amounts on advertising, promotion, and disinformation. The amount they spent shows how critical they felt that persuasion was: that shows their responsibility.
Mike Huben, email July 26, 2009
... I think the Austrian business-cycle theory has done the world a great deal of harm. If you go back to the 1930s, which is a key point, here you had the Austrians sitting in London, Hayek and Lionel Robbins, and saying you just have to let the bottom drop out of the world. You’ve just got to let it cure itself. You can’t do anything about it. You will only make it worse. You have Rothbard saying it was a great mistake not to let the whole banking system collapse. I think by encouraging that kind of do-nothing policy both in Britain and the United States, they did harm.
Milton Friedman, interviewed in Barron's (August 24, 1998)
And today we see how utterly mistaken was the Milton Friedman notion that a market system can regulate itself. We see how silly the Ronald Reagan slogan was that government is the problem, not the solution. This prevailing ideology of the last few decades has now been reversed. Everyone understands now, on the contrary, that there can be no solution without government. The Keynesian idea is once again accepted that fiscal policy and deficit spending has a major role to play in guiding a market economy. I wish Friedman were still alive so he could witness how his extremism led to the defeat of his own ideas.
Paul Samuelson, "Don't Expect Recovery Before 2012"
In his book Free To Choose, Milton Friedman analyzes the difficult question of the inequality of rewards that is an obvious feature of the distribution systems we find in capitalism, and he raises for consideration whether this unevenness is "fair." If fairness means equality, he concedes, the distribution system under capitalism would not be fair, but Friedman goes on to say that inequality is part of life. Some people are born with better looks than others, some with more native abilities, some with musical abilities. Admitting that it is easier to interfere with the distribution of property than of talent, he asks "From the ethical point of view is there any difference between the two?" There is such a difference——although perhaps it escapes Friedman's eye——namely, that whereas the distribution of talents is a matter beyond human intervention, the distribution of property is not. Friedman is a brilliant man, but in his attempt to defend capitalism from the charge of unfairness he is not. He cannot see the differences because he is an ideologue.
Robert Heilbroner, "The Embarrassment of Economics"
One incident above all impressed George and me. In the course of a spirited discussion of policies about the distribution of income among a group that included Hayek, Machlup, Knight, Robbins, and Jewkes among others, Ludwig von Mises suddenly rose to his feet, remarked, “You’re all a bunch of socialists,” and stomped out of the room.
Milton Friedman, "Tribute to George J. Stigler, Mont Pelerin Society General Meeting, Vancouver, Canada, September 4, 1992"
It is scarcely an exaggeration to say that the modern gurus of libertarian economics – Friedman, Mises, Hayek, and their followers – were and are all basically intellectual McCarthyites, motivated by a visceral hatred of communism and, by association, of all forms of socialism. Their virulent loathing has driven them to embrace with uncritical enthusiasm the opposite doctrine. But it was the vices of nineteenth-century laisser-faire that inspired communism and socialism in the first place!
Angus Sibley, "What’s wrong with Milton Friedman’s economics?"
We should wonder about this impulse of economists like Friedman and Hayek to theorize and write about the meaning of freedom and liberty. Why should economists be taken as the moral authority on what freedom and liberty mean? Are they our new priests? Indeed, Friedman is tipping his hand to a secret about economics as a discipline: economic policies are not value-neutral science.
Howard I. Schwartz, "What Color Tie Do You Vote For?"
Now that we have dug beneath the rhetoric we know that Friedman is really saying that “You are against freedom if you disagree with my theory of government and markets.” Such a claim certainly sounds suspicious for someone who is supposedly defending a diversity of values in the market place. Surely freedom should involve precisely the question of debating what the boundaries between government and markets should be. And surely that very boundary between government and market should be subject to debate and discussion?
Howard I. Schwartz, "What Color Tie Do You Vote For?"
We would say in contrast to Friedman that “Underlying most arguments for a free market is a mistaken assumption that free markets and freedom are one and the same thing.” They are not. The degree of the market’s freedom is always a question within a free society. But there are many gradations of free markets and there can be multiple ways to draw the line between government and the market and all of them can comfortably sit under the rubric of a free society.
Howard I. Schwartz, "What Color Tie Do You Vote For?"