27 Sterling Milton Friedman Quotes

The winner of the 1976 Nobel Prize in Economics, Milton Friedman was one of the greatest proponents of free markets and liberty of the 20th century. With lots of opposition over his lifetime for many of his unconventional views, Friedman eventually became widely accepted for his transforming economic theory and practice. Many of Friedman’s practices changed the lives of millions of people worldwide for the better. Here is a collection to some of the best Milton Friedman quotes to remember.

“A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.”

“Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it.”

“Governments never learn. Only people learn.”

“Hell hath no fury like a bureaucrat scorned.”

“I am in favor of cutting taxes under any circumstance and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it’s possible.”

“I think that the Internet is going to be one of the major forces for reducing the role of government.”

“I think the government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem and very often makes the problem worse.”

“If all we want are jobs, we can create any number—for example, have people dig holes and then fill them up again, or perform other useless tasks. Work is sometimes its own reward. Mostly, however, it is the price we pay to get the things we want. Our real objective is not just jobs but productive jobs—jobs that will mean more goods and services to consume.”

“If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there’d be a shortage of sand.”

“I’m in favor of legalizing drugs. According to my values, if people want to kill themselves, they have every right to do so. Most of the harm that comes from drugs is because they are illegal.”

“Indeed, a major source of objection to a free economy is precisely that it . . . gives people what they want instead of what a particular group thinks they ought to want. Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.”

“Inflation is taxation without legislation.”

“Is there some society you know that doesn’t run on greed? You think Russia doesn’t run on greed? You think China doesn’t run on greed? What is greed? Of course, none of us are greedy, it’s only the other fellow who’s greedy.”

“Many people want the government to protect the consumer. A much more urgent problem is to protect the consumer from the government.”

“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.”

“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.””

“Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.”

“One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.”

“The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus. Einstein didn’t construct his theory under order from a bureaucrat. Henry Ford didn’t revolutionize the automobile industry that way.”

“The Great Depression, like most other periods of severe unemployment, was produced by government mismanagement rather than by any inherent instability of the private economy.”

“The lack of balance in governmental activity reflects primarily the failure to separate sharply the question what activities it is appropriate for government to finance from the question what activities it is appropriate for government to administer—a distinction that is important in other areas of government activity as well.””

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

“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.”

“The world runs on individuals pursuing their self interests. The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus. Einstein didn’t construct his theory under order from a bureaucrat. Henry Ford didn’t revolutionize the automobile industry that way.”

“There is no such thing as a free lunch.”

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

“When everybody owns something, nobody owns it, and nobody has a direct interest in maintaining or improving its condition. That is why buildings in the Soviet Union — like public housing in the United States — look decrepit within a year or two of their construction.”

The following video reviews the life and ideas of Milton Friedman. In this documentary, Friedman’s influence over national policy and daily life are highlighted. As the creator of the Free to Choose television series, a bonus interview with Milton Friedman and Bob Chitester is shown.

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