You are on page 1of 8

1 Book Review: Free to Choose: A Personal Statement Throughout this book, I have found myself agreeing with Milton

and Rose Friedmans economic philosophy. Unfortunately I am bias when it comes to this book, because I have strong beliefs that capitalism and a free market is Americas best option and the government should not be meddling in things they know nothing about. So, I was bound to take pleasure in reading this book and agree with most of its ideas. Although the book can appear to be backwards at times because it is over 30 years old, the ideas that the Friedmans bring to light are revolutionary and if the public would listen to their ideas the United States could have a strong and healthy economy. The Friedmans start the book by giving the reader fairly basic information on economics. I like that they do this because most people do not understand the concept of economics and I believe that it was the right way to start the book. This whole chapter has basically the same information we discussed in class this semester. In the first couple of paragraphs they use the example of the Soviet Union, which is extremely outdated but nonetheless and excellent example. I love that they used the Soviet Union as example because it is a prime example that Marxist ideology does not work. A predominantly voluntary exchange economy, on the other hand, has within it the potential to promote both prosperity and freedom. It may not achieve its potential in either respect, but we know of no society that has ever achieved prosperity and freedom unless voluntary exchange has been its dominant principle of organization. (Friedman, and Friedman 11)

This quote is one of my favorites from this chapter because it clearly explains why socialism just does not work. Even though no country has ever achieved prosperity or freedom; democracies are far closer to it than authoritarian countries.

2 Another interesting story I came to in this chapter was the story of the I, pencil which we talked about in class, I was pleasantly surprise to find it pop up in this book. This story is a perfect example of voluntary exchange, nobody knows how to make a pencil and nobody cares. It is amazing to see how much really goes into making a pencil, but I just want a pencil. I know that I personally could care less where the pencil came from and I really do not care what effort was put into it, but that is just my opinion. It shows that our differences do not matter and we still cooperate to make this pencil. I tell people everyday when I collect money from them that it is just business its nothing personal, because it is not personal whatsoever. The Friedmans continue this chapter talking about the role of prices and again I was pleasantly surprised that the Friedmans talked about Adam Smith, which I guess I should not be surprised since his book Wealth of Nations is praised by most economists. Anyway they talk about exchange between two people is voluntary and will not talk place unless both believe they will benefit from it, this another concept in class that we discussed over and over again. I completely agree with this concept, I believe that you can get anyone to cooperate with one another if someone has something that the other wants. I also agree with the Friedmans when they talk about the price system working so well. I believe the only role the government should have in our price system is the control of inflation, which should be controlled better then it is. Other then that the government should just mind their business. The price system provides incentives for people to prosper and if people did not have incentives they would just become lazy. Just look at public housing it provides no incentive, so I have to work my entire life, so it can go to someone bumming off the government? Distribution of income is chance, which if you think about it really it is. I mean I was born into my family by chance. My parents happen to be middle class and my life has been good, lucky me. This same

3 chance makes people ask why should I receive less? In a free market, people would have to blame the market not the government. My dad owns a restaurant in the French Quarter and he is always complaining that his workers treat his place with no respect by breaking and misusing things he owns. This next quote reminded me of him constantly saying this. When everybody owns something, nobody owns it, and nobody has a direct interest in maintaining or improving its condition. (Friedman, and Friedman 24) Friedman goes on to say that why public housing units are so run down and terrible looking. This is another prime example to why socialist countries fail time and time again; there is no incentive to do better. The Friedmans explain to the reader what role the government should have in the market. In my personal opinion the government should stay out of our economy. Classic example of why when the government bailed out the banks. Honestly, I believe that the banks should have just gone down. They needed to see that what they were doing was wrong. Now they just know every time they mess up they can give the government a call and taxpayers get to suffer for it. As a result a government attempt to rectify the situation may very well end up making matters worst rather than better---imposing costs on innocent third parties or conferring benefits on lucky bystanders. To finance its activities it must collect taxes, which themselves affect what taxpayers do---still another third party effect. (Friedman, and Friedman 32) This quote is an expression of how I feel about taxes and I do feel like taxes create a society where citizens can take advantage of other citizens. I feel like limiting the government in our economy would help us flourish even more so than we have. With the recent recession, I firmly believe that it is the governments fault why it is taking so long to recover. This quote is how I feel about the government meddling in our economy. But none prevents us, if we will, from building a society that relies primarily on voluntary cooperation to organize both economic and other activity, a society that

4 preserves and expands human freedom, that keeps government in its place, keeping it our servant and not letting it become our master. (Friedman, and Friedman 37) The Friedmans argue that tariffs are bad. I am kind of in the middle of this argument. I know the Friedmans say that the government is lying about protecting us, and I am the first to come up with conspiracy theories about the government. I kind of disagree to an extent about that, I believe that most tariffs are protecting us from items that are not made with the best quality. But I do agree with the fact that American workers are just being sore losers and do not want to lose there business to some Asians. In a specific case that a tariff or other trade restriction is justified to promote national security, it would be necessary to compare the cost of achieving the specific security objective in alternative ways and establish at least a prima facie case that a tariff is the least costly was. (Friedman, and Friedman 48) There is also the infancy argument, which I do not agree with. Just like the Friedmans I believe it is a smoke screen. Government protected industries always come out second when they could come out first. I agree with Milton when he explained that higher tariffs make goods more expensive for people to buy and put people out of jobs, just to benefit our government. The United States has too many restrictions and keeps adding them. The Friedmans warn that this is affecting our human freedom. The Great Depression was not because of the failure of capitalism it was because The Federal Reserve System failed to do what it was suppose to do, it had the means to save America from the Great Depression it just was an epic fail. This chapter I feel is a little outdated. But the Federal Reserve is still as worthless as they were in 1930 as they are in 2010 and this shows from the recent recession we had in 2008. This entire chapter I feel like it is almost irreverent to economics today. But I believe that we had a chance to learn from our mistakes from the Great Depression but we did not and probably will never learn.

5 Every time I hear someone say that they agree with the way our welfare system works, my blood boils. I absolutely HATE the United States welfare system. It creates a continuous cycle of laziness and makes people have no incentives. Milton and Rose say in the book that the children whose parents are on welfare will grow up to need welfare too. Instead of welfare being a temporary it becomes a permanent cycle. I want to know why I have to give my tax money to the government to take care of crack heads, while the city I have live in is falling apart? Public housing does not work, the units fall apart within a few years of them being built because people do not care for things that they do not own or personal work for. The public housing units themselves have frequently become slums and hotbeds of crime, especially juvenile delinquency. (Friedman, and Friedman 110) The welfare system messes with my freedom. If I do not want to pay for others then I should not have to. I would gladly pay taxes to help the roads in Louisiana, but it does not go to the roads it goes to lazy people, who do not want to find a job and want to keep living off the taxpayers. When the Friedmans go on to talk about social security they do not agree with the system. I mean I agree with social security to an extent, especially for disabled people. But I completely agree that it does not work. It was just a bad idea from the start, we do not have the money to support it and we never will. Especially since our government spending is absolutely ridiculous. The waste is distressing, but it is the least of the evils of the paternalistic programs that have grown to such a massive size. Their major evil is their effect on the fabric of our society. They weaken the family; reduce the incentive to work, save and innovate; reduce the accumulation of capital; and limit our freedom. These are the fundamental standards by which they should be judged. (Friedman, and Friedman127) I am also completely against socialized health care it would destroy our entire system. It gives people no incentives to be doctors or pay for an education to become a doctor. Hospitals

6 would never be built there would be no progress. In Canada, it takes months to see a doctor because it goes through the government. If you were extremely sick and need to see a doctor you would have to wait. Socialized health care would hurt the workers, the hospitals, and the people. I completely agree with the Friedmans when they say that there is no case for social medicine. When our four fathers sat and wrote the Declaration of Independence, they wrote that all men should be created equal. Now I believe in this statement, but men should only be created equal in the eyes of God. I believe that is what they meant, when they wrote this. In todays world when you compete in junior sports, everyone gets a trophy. This creates the ideology in young childrens minds that if I do less work then my other teammate, its ok because I still get a trophy. If our country keeps trying to be equal, when we are clearly not, then we will end up not being a free country, but a socialist one. A society that puts equality in the sense of equality of out-come ahead of freedom will end up neither equality nor freedom. The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom, and the force, introduced for good purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it to promote their own interests. (Friedman, and Friedman 148)

The United States could prosper so much more if we would just let our country be completely free. God wanted us to be diverse, if he wanted us to all be the same, he would have made us that way. The Friedmans explain that what is wrong with our public schools is that parents and teachers do not have a say anymore, the bureaucrats do. In private schools, because the childs parents pay so highly for their childs education, they stay involved in the school. They want to see where their money is going and they want to see it going to their childs education. If they do not like what the see they take their business elsewhere. The Friedmans explain in the book that all public schools are not created equal, which I completely agree with this statement. I grew up

7 in Mandeville, Louisiana, which is right across the lake from New Orleans. St. Tammany Parish where Mandeville resides has the best public school system in Louisiana, which is not saying much that is for sure. Right back across the lake the public schools are so bad that people in New Orleans have to send their children to private schools. If a child does not go to a private school in New Orleans that child is most likely going to end up in some kind of trouble and have no chance at a decent job and college is usually not an option. I feel strongly that the parents are the main reason why schools are failing. It seems to me in this generation parents are getting younger and are so wrapped up in their own drama that the child suffers. I do not know if it so much the governments problem because the government has bigger issues. If the parents see that their child is getting a terrible education, they need to step up and do their jobs as parents. The Food and Drug Administration is extremely flawed. No one wants to take the blame for approving a drug that harms, so they deny every new drug they see, so that they can save there self. Nobody cares if a drug is denied because no one knows the details; if it could have saved lives or not, besides the researchers. The Consumer Products Safety Commission saves us from dangerous products like unsafe cars. What I want to know is how do you determine that something is unsafe for me, should I not decide that from myself? All these agencies are again a cost to the taxpayer. But let it leave us free to choose what chances we want to take with our own lives. (Friedman, and Friedman 227) I hate unions, I think that they care completely full of crap. The way that they are able to have there wages is high is because they keep down the number of jobs. They protect their workers at someone elses expense. When unions get higher wages for their members by restricting entry into an occupation, those higher wages are at the expense of other workers who find their opportunities reduced. When government pays its employees higher wages, those higher wages are at the expense of the taxpayer. But when workers get higher wages and better working conditions through the free

8 market, when they get raises by firms competing with one another for the best jobs, those higher productivity, greater capital investment, more widely diffused skills. (Friedman, and Friedman 247)

If we would just like the market run it self, we would thrive and we would not need unions. The government needs to realize that competition is healthy and that is what makes the economy grow. Inflation rises every year and it keeps rising and it is causes more problems then good. It seems to me that the government never learns; inflation does not help the economy. We overreact to recessions and then we set ourselves up for higher inflation and a slower economy. Our government has the power to stop inflation; we need to stop printing money so rapidly. It is an extremely straightforward idea and cure. I agree with everything that the Friedmans are saying about inflation, but I do not think that the government would ever stop printing. Milton Friedman may seem radical and his idea may seem far-fetched, but he is one of the most intellectual people in the world. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and his ideas are breathtaking and intellectual. He gives his opinion strongly about how he believes we should have a completely free market and the government should mind it's own business. I agree that America would benefit from a completely free market, as well. Everyone in America would benefit from reading Free to Choose: A Personal Statement, so they can too understand how and why the government is screwing the taxpayer. Works Cited Fri ed m an, Mil t on, and R os e Frei dman . Free t o Ch o ose: A Pers o n al Statement. Orlando, FL: Harcourt Books, 1979. Print.