Gary Wolfram, in a commentary on The Business & Media Institute website, notes:

Today, in the year [Milton] Friedman would have turned 98 years old, we are even more in need of a resurgence and rediscovery of his ideas. Examples of this need abound in the economy, education and other realms of public policy.

As Wolfram points out, Friedman understood the inherent dangers in granting government greater control over our lives “for our own good” when he wrote in Free to Choose:

The two ideas of human freedom and economic freedom working together came to their greatest fruition in the United States. Those ideas are still very much with us. But we have been straying from them. We have been forgetting the basic truth that the greatest threat to human freedom is the concentration of power, whether in the hands of government or anyone else. We have persuaded ourselves that it is safe to grant power, provided it is for good purposes.


More Friedman quotes:

“The most important single central fact about a free market is that no exchange takes place unless both parties benefit.”

“Nobody spends somebody else’s money as carefully as he spends his own. Nobody uses somebody else’s resources as carefully as he uses his own. So if you want efficiency and effectiveness, if you want knowledge to be properly utilized, you have to do it through the means of private property.”

“Governments never learn. Only people learn.”

“So the question is, do corporate executives, provided they stay within the law, have responsibilities in their business activities other than to make as much money for their stockholders as possible? And my answer to that is, no they do not.”

“The only way that has ever been discovered to have a lot of people cooperate together voluntarily is through the free market. And that’s why it’s so essential to preserving individual freedom.”

“Most economic fallacies derive from the tendency to assume that there is a fixed pie, that one party can gain only at the expense of another.”

“Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.”

“What kind of society isn’t structured on greed? The problem of social organization is how to set up an arrangement under which greed will do the least harm; capitalism is that kind of a system.”

“History suggests that capitalism is a necessary condition for political freedom. Clearly it is not a sufficient condition.”

“The society that puts equality before freedom will end up with neither. The society that puts freedom before equality will end up with a great measure of both.”

“The great virtue of free enterprise is that it forces existing businesses to meet the test of the market continuously, to produce products that meet consumer demands at lowest cost, or else be driven from the market. It is a profit-and-loss system. Naturally, existing businesses generally prefer to keep out competitors in other ways. That is why the business community, despite its rhetoric, has so often been a major enemy of truly free enterprise.”

“The economic miracle that has been the United States was not produced by socialized enterprises, by government-union-industry cartels or by centralized economic planning. It was produced by private enterprises in a profit-and-loss system. And losses were at least as important in weeding out failures as profits in fostering successes. Let government succor failures, and we shall be headed for stagnation and decline.”



Gary Wolfram’s Business & Media Institute tribute article.

Several of Friedman’s books are still available on Free to Choose Capitalism and Freedom Milton Friedman on Economics.

Mike Gray