Friday, August 03, 2012

Friedman versus Freedom

by Edd Doerr

This letter was published in the Washington Examiner on August 3, 2012 ---

"Friedman not all for limited government" (title supplied by newspaper)

Milton Friedman ("Restore the draft? What would Milton Friedman do?" July 31) opposed the draft and "compulsory national service" for being akin to slavery. Yet the same Milton Friedman was the foremost champion of having government force all taxpayers to support religious institutions through school voucher plans. Friedman opposed one form of  government restriction on freedom while favoring government action to violate every citizen's religious freedom.

Isn't government interference with our precious religious freedom also akin to slavery? Milton Friedman was a very strange guy.

Edd Doerr
Silver Spring, Md


Let me issue a challenge. Since the greatest threat to core humanist values would be the election of Mitt Romney to the presidency, along with a Tea Party cum religious right dominated Congress, I think it would be as no-brainer for humanists to set aside, for the time being at least, fun discussions of side issues in order to concentrate efforts on re-electing Obama and shifting Congress and state governments toward the blue end of the spectrum. Tons of money we lack, but brains and writing talent we do have. Let's put them  to good use where it counts, influencing public opinion across the map.

Defending women's rights of conscience, church-state separation, public education and religious liberty -- all targets of today's Republicans -- should take top priority.

Readers can reach me to discuss this at or at 301-460-1111.


Hos said...

Wouldn't government funding of religious schools be state interference in the free market? Friedman was betraying his own principles it seems.

Vincent said...

I never met Milton, but I knew his son David and used to take care of his cats while he was on vacation. Also a weird guy. Funny thing was he once pointed to a picture of his dad and expected me to understand but at the time I'd never heard of Milton Friedman.

Explicit Atheist said...

David Friedman advocates privatizing government, with education vouchers being a prelude to full privatization of education, along with privatizing legislation and enforcement of laws, et., etc.. Anarcho-capitalism sounds wierd to me. I don't think commercial mechanisms by themselves work well for health care, let alone for legislation and law enforcement, nor for basic education. Even where the market works well, it often works better with some regulation by regulators who are not paid by those who are being regulated.

Don Wharton said...

What is really frightening is that acccording to Krugman Friedman was relatively sane compared to the current crop of economic lunacy vendors. Frankly, I think if the rich really realized how awful life would be under Mitt Romney they would not be supporting him. Economics is supposed to be a science. Putting Romney in charge of our economy will be vastly worse than putting young earth creationists in charge of all of our university biology and geology departments.

Explicit Atheist said...

Krugman argues convincingly that government austerity is counter-productive during periods of high unemployment and low interest rates, that high income citizens should be taxed at higher rates than low income citizens to close budget deficits, and that regulations are needed to protect the economy from free market pitfalls and risks.

A lot of economics is about trade-offs. The sense I get is that the Republican economic narrative isn't focused on balancing the trade-offs or correcting for the pitfalls and risks of free markets. It is focused instead on viewing the wealthy and their wealth as the engine for future economic growth, on viewing regulations and taxes as inhibitors to economic growth, on viewing government, particular government welfare programs for the poor, as a costly burden.

Don Wharton said...

Yes, they sell the myth of the super rich as "job creators." In reality the incremental investment by the very rich is largely targeting automation which eliminates jobs. Jobs cost money. Large blue chip companies are on balance minimal job creators.

Increases in net new jobs are much more likely to come from smaller organizations started and nurtured by middle class people of modest means.