Tyson Wynn showed me a video of Milton Friedman on The Open Mind, hosted by Richard D. Heffner. It originally aired on December 7, 1975.
Friedman's message strikes a chord in my soul, and it's something I'd like to share with you. Friedman's premise is that when the Government tries to do good with your money, or steps in to correct some wrong they will not do nearly a good a job as if the free market takes care of it. Whether it's the federal government using our tax dollars to bail out and ultimately purchase GM, or little old Tulsa taking money from downtown property owners to build a ballpark it's a lesson we need to learn.
Here are some of the best quotes in my opinion...or skip to the end and watch it for yourself...
I want people to take thought about their condition and to recognize that the maintenance of a free society is a very difficult and complicated thing. And it requires a self-denying ordinance of the most extreme kind. It requires a willingness to put up with temporary evils on the basis of the subtle and sophisticated understanding that if you step in to try to do something about them, you not only may make them worse, but you will spread your tentacles and get bad results elsewhere.
You know, another answer to your question as to why you seem to have the drift to collectivism is along these lines. The argument for collectivism for government doing something is simple. Anybody can understand it. If there's something wrong, pass a law. If somebody is in trouble, get Mr. X to help him out.
The argument for a free -- for voluntary cooperation for a free market is not nearly so simple. It says, you know, if you allow people to cooperate voluntarily and don't interfere with them, indirectly through the operation of the market, they will improve matters more than you can improve it directly by appointing somebody. That's a subtle argument, and it's hard for people to understand. And, moreover, people think that when you argue that way you're arguing for selfishness, for greed. That's utter nonsense. The people who are in positions of power in a political hierarchy are also selfish and greedy.
One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results. We all know a famous road that is paved with good intentions. The people who go around talking about their soft heart -- I share their -- I admire them for the softness of their heart, but unfortunately, it very often extends to their head as well, because the fact is that the programs that are labeled as being for the poor, for the needy, almost always have effects exactly the opposite of those which their well-intentioned sponsors intend them to have.
I think there's been one underlying basic fallacy in this whole set of Social Security and Welfare measures. And that is the fallacy -- this is at the bottom of it -- the fallacy that it is feasible and possible to do good with other people's money. Now, you see that fallacy -- that view -- has two flaws.
If I want to do good with other people's money I'd first have to take it away from them. That means that the welfare state philosophy of doing good with other people's money, at its very bottom, is a philosophy of violence and coercion. It's against freedom, because I have to use force to get the money.
In the second place, very few people spend other people's money as carefully as they spend their own.
...government is an institution whereby the people who have the greatest drive to get power over their fellow men, get in a position of controlling them. Look at the record of government. Where are these philosopher kings that Plato supposedly was trying to develop?
I'm not in favor of eliminating government entirely. I think government has grown all out of proportion to its scope. Where are we going? I believe that that depends on us, that that's not in the cards, it's not -- we are masters of our own destiny. But if you take the road that we have been on, we are heading towards a destruction of our free society and towards a totalitarian society.
We are unfortunately headed down the route which Chile has already taken a century to its end, which Britain has taken much farther than we are. Now, I -- we still have time to avoid it. But we will not avoid it unless the people of this country recognize the danger and take very difficult and important steps to set a limit on the extent to which they are going to permit government to interfere with their lives.
I say thank God for government waste. If government is doing bad things, it's only the waste that prevents the harm from being greater. And the waste of government has two very important elements. Number one, if government were now spending the amount it spends -which is 40% of our income -- governments Federal, State, and local in the United States have total spending which equals 40% of total national income -- if they were spending that efficiently, we'd be slaves now. And in the second place, the waste is so obvious that it arouses a countermovement on the population at large, people are disillusioned with government and it increases the chance that they will recognize where this road is taking them and get off that train before it goes all the way.
And queue the liberals who will entirely miss the point of Friedman's argument, and make some goofy comment about how the economy is is such a sad shape right now because of the free market, despite the fact that the economy is really screwed up because of bad government policies, in 5...4...3...2..and Go!