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Meditation 552
Milton Friedman & Freedom

Freedom is a rare and delicate plant. Our minds tell us, and history confirms, that the great threat to freedom is the concentration of power. Milton Friedman

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One of the major contributors to my way of thinking died last week. I have no idea what Milton Friedman's views on religion were,[1] but his views on freedom, particularly individual freedom as expressed through economics can easily be transferred to other areas of life.

The idea of "natural liberty" in economics was originally developed by Adam Smith in the 18th century. Nearly 200 years later, John Maynard Keynes argued against the idea, contending that markets could not work with just people acting in their own self-interest and government intervention in markets was essential. Friedman was the intellectual leader in demonstrating Keynes was wrong and in restoring the individual to the economic centre by promoting the free market.

While claiming that the free market is most efficient economic system, he said he would remain in favor of it even if that was not the case because the the free market expresses the human values of choice, challenge and risk. He saw the free market not just as an economic choice, but as a moral choice.

Milton Friedman championed everyone's right and responsibility to make their own decisions with a minimum of interference from authority.

That is a philosophy that can be applied to every area of life.

Footnote:

  1. He makes no mention of religion in his Nobel autobiography.