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Milton Friedman Quotes

Milton Friedman (1912 – 2006) was an American statistician, economist and author, and a Nobel Prize winner for economic sciences.

Friedman is well known for his researches on monetary history, consumption analysis and stabilization policy. He was one of the most popular economists of the 20th century (right after John M. Keynes). Friedman was President Reagan’s economic advisor. Some of his major ideas (volunteer military, education vouchers, negative income tax, etc.) can be found in his book “Capitalism and Freedom”.

Milton Friedman Quotes

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.

— Milton Friedman

The greatest advances of civilization, whether in architecture or painting, in science and literature, in industry or agriculture, have never come from centralized government.

— Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom

A society that puts equality – in the sense of equality of outcome – ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality or freedom.

— Milton Friedman

Our minds tell us, and history confirms, that the great threat to freedom is the concentration of power. Government is necessary to preserve our freedom, it is an instrument through which we can exercise our freedom; yet by concentrating power in political hands, it is also a threat to freedom. Even though the men who wield this power initially be of good will and even though they be not corrupted by the power they exercise, the power will both attract and form men of a different stamp.

— Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom

Congress can raise taxes because it can persuade a sizable fraction of the populace that somebody else will pay.

— Milton Friedman

Hell hath no fury like a bureaucrat scorned.

— Milton Friedman

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.

— Milton Friedman

Political freedom means the absence of coercion of a man by his fellow men. The fundamental threat to freedom is power to coerce, be it in the hands of a monarch, a dictator, an oligarchy, or a momentary majority. The preservation of freedom requires the elimination of such concentration of power to the fullest possible extent and the dispersal and distribution of whatever power cannot be eliminated – a system of checks and balances.

— Milton Friedman

To the free man, the country is the collection of individuals who compose it, not something over and above them. He is proud of a common heritage and loyal to common traditions. But he regards government as a means, an instrumentality, neither a granter of favors and gifts, nor a master or god to be blindly worshiped and served.

— Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom

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.

— Milton Friedman

If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there’d be a shortage of sand.

— Milton Friedman

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

— Milton Friedman

Governments never learn. Only people learn.

— Milton Friedman

The great virtue of a free market system is that it does not care what color people are; it does not care what their religion is; it only cares whether they can produce something you want to buy. It is the most effective system we have discovered to enable people who hate one another to deal with one another and help one another.

— Milton Friedman

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

— Milton Friedman

Fundamentally, there are only two ways of coordinating the economic activities of millions. One is central direction involving the use of coercion — the technique of the army and of the modern totalitarian state. The other is voluntary cooperation of individuals — the technique of the marketplace.

— Milton Friedman

What would you think of someone who said, “I would like to have a cat provided it barked”? Yet your statement that you favor a government provided it behaves as you believe desirable is precisely equivalent. The biological laws that specify the characteristics of cats are no more rigid than the political laws that specify the behavior of government agencies once they are established. The way the government behaves and the adverse consequences are not an accident, not a result of some easily corrected human mistake, but a consequence of its constitution in precisely the same way that a meow is related to the constitution of a cat.

— Milton Friedman, Free to Choose

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.

— Milton Friedman

Humility is the distinguishing virtue of the believer in freedom; arrogance, of the paternalist.

— Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom

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.

— Milton Friedman

The free market is the only mechanism that has ever been discovered for achieving participatory democracy.

— Milton Friedman, Introduction to the Fiftieth Anniversary Edition of The Road to Serfdom

What kind of a 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.

— Milton Friedman

If you really want to engage in policy activity, don’t make that your vocation. Make it your avocation. Get a job. Get a secure base of income. Otherwise, you’re going to get corrupted and destroyed.

— Milton Friedman

Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.

— Milton Friedman

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

— Milton Friedman

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

— Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom

I’m in favor of legalizing drugs. According to my value system, 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.

— Milton Friedman

The great threat to freedom is the concentration of power.

— Milton Friedman

The existence of a free market does not of course eliminate the need for government. On the contrary, government is essential both as a forum for determining the “rule of the game” and as an umpire to interpret and enforce the rules decided on.

— Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom

We cannot expect existing businesses to promote legislation that would harm them. It is up to the rest of us to promote the public interest by fostering competition across the board and to recognize that being pro-free enterprise may sometimes require that we be anti-existing business.

— Milton Friedman

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.

— Milton Friedman
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Aristotle Quotes

Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC) was a Greek polymath and philosopher. He was Plato’s student and teacher of Alexander the Great.

Aristotle’s writings cover different subjects: poetry, metaphysics, physics, logic, music, theater, linguistics, rhetoric, ethics, zoology, biology, politics and government. Aristotle had a great influence on Western philosophy. His ideas shaped the entire medieval scholarship. Aristotle’s formal logic was incorporated into modern formal logic developed in the late nineteenth century.

Aristotle Quotes

Both oligarch and tyrant mistrust the people, and therefore deprive them of their arms.

— Aristotle

We become just by performing just action, temperate by performing temperate actions, brave by performing brave action.

— Aristotle

Virtue is a disposition, or habit, involving deliberate purpose or choice.

— Aristotle

Laws should be constructed so as to leave as little as possible to the decision of those who judge.

— Aristotle

Those who excel in virtue have the best right of all to rebel, but then they are of all men the least inclined to do so.

— Aristotle

The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.

— Aristotle

It is also in the interests of a tyrant to keep his people poor, so that they may not be able to afford the cost of protecting themselves by arms and be so occupied with their daily tasks that they have no time for rebellion.

— Aristotle

We make war that we may live in peace.

— Aristotle

Tyranny derives from the oligarchy’s “mistrust of the people; hence they deprive them of arms, ill-treat the lower class, and keep them from residing in the capital. These are common to oligarchy and tyranny.

— Aristotle

Quality is not an act, it is a habit.

— Aristotle

The ideal man bears the accidents of life with dignity and grace, making the best of circumstances.

— Aristotle

Virtue, as well as evil, lies in our power.

— Aristotle

It is easy to perform a good action, but not easy to acquire a settled habit of performing such actions.

— Aristotle
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Quotes on Property

There is no security of property, where a despotic authority can possess itself of the property of the subject against his consent. Neither is there such security, where the consent is merely nominal and delusive.

— Jean-Baptiste Say

If I deny the authority of the State when it presents my tax bill, it will soon take and waste all my property, and so harass me and my children without end. This is hard, this makes it impossible for a man to live honestly, and at the same time comfortably, in outward respects.

— Henry David Thoreau

There is no such dichotomy as “human rights” versus “property rights.” No human rights can exist without property rights.

— Ayn Rand

[The right to property] is not the right to an object, but to the action and the consequences of producing or earning that object.

— Ayn Rand

Government is necessary, but the only rights we can delegate to government are the ones we possess. For example, we all have a natural right to defend ourselves against predators. Since we possess that right, we can delegate authority to government to defend us. By contrast, we don’t have a natural right to take the property of one person to give to another; therefore, we cannot legitimately delegate such authority to government.

— Walter Williams

Good government is that which delivers the citizen from the risk of being done out of his life and property too arbitrarily and violently.

— H. L. Mencken

Property must be secured or liberty cannot exist.

— John Adams

To lay with one hand the power of government on the property of the citizen, and with the other to bestow it on favored individuals …. is none the less robbery because it is …. called taxation.

— US Supreme Court in Loan Association v. Topeka (1874)

Government has no other end, but the preservation of property.

— John Locke

Next to the right of liberty, the right of property is the most important individual right guaranteed by the Constitution and the one which, united with that of personal liberty, has contributed more to the growth of civilization than any other institution established by the human race.

— William Howard Taft

The property of the people belongs to the people. To take it from them by taxation cannot be justified except by urgent public necessity. Unless this principle be recognized, our country is no longer secure, our people no longer free.

— Calvin Coolidge

Ultimately, property rights and personal rights are the same thing.

— Calvin Coolidge

The congress of the United States possesses no power to regulate, or interfere with the domestic concerns, or police of any state: it belongs not to them to establish any rules respecting the rights of property; nor will the constitution permit any prohibition of arms to the people.

— St. George Tucker

True capitalism is based upon one simple principle: that all exchanges of property are made with the voluntary consent of all parties. Private ownership of property and competition — the other two components of capitalism in most traditional definitions — are actually results of this foundational principle. As all governments are institutions of coercion, there is no way for them to acquire property through voluntary exchange. Further, with all exchanges being voluntary, sellers must by definition compete with one another in order to sell their products. So, the foundation of “capitalism” is really the non-aggression principle applied to property. Capitalism requires that no one’s property can be taken from them without their consent.

— Tom Mullen

The authority of government … can have no pure right over my person and my property but what I concede to it.

— Henry David Thoreau

No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the Legislature is in session.

— Gideon J. Tucker

A law against property is a law against industry.

— Edmund Burke

Life, faculties, production — in other words, individuality, liberty, property — this is man. And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts from God precede all human legislation, and are superior to it. Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.

— Frederic Bastiat, The Law

No free government was ever founded, or ever preserved its liberty, without uniting the characters of the citizen and soldier in those destined for the defense of the state…Such are a well regulated militia, composed of the freeholders, citizen and husbandman, who take up arms to preserve their property, as individuals, and their rights as freemen.

— Richard Henry

The true test of one’s commitment to liberty and private property rights doesn’t come when we permit people to be free to do those voluntary things with which we agree. The true test comes when we permit people to be free to do those voluntary things with which we disagree.

— Walter Williams

The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence.

— John Adams

Just as man can’t exist without his body, so no rights can exist without the right to translate one’s rights into reality, to think, to work and keep the results, which means: the right of property.

— Ayn Rand

The supposed quietude of a good man allures the ruffian; while on the other hand arms, like laws, discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world, as well as property. The same balance would be preserved were all the world destitute of arms for all would be alike; but since some will not, others dare not lay them aside. Horrid mischief would ensue were one half the world deprived of the use of them.

— Thomas Paine

If we consider that each person owns his own body and can acquire ownership of other things by creating them, or by having ownership transferred to him by another owner, it becomes at least formally possible to define “being left alone” and its opposite, “being coerced”. Someone who forcibly prevents me from using my property as I want, when I am not using it to violate his right to use his property, is coercing me. A man who prevents me from taking heroin coerces me; a man who prevents me from shooting him does not.

— David Friedman

Once one accepts the principle of self-ownership, what’s moral and immoral becomes self-evident. Murder is immoral because it violates private property. Rape and theft are also immoral — they also violate private property. Here’s an important question: Would rape become morally acceptable if Congress passed a law legalizing it? You say: “What’s wrong with you, Williams? Rape is immoral plain and simple, no matter what Congress says or does!” If you take that position, isn’t it just as immoral when Congress legalizes the taking of one person’s earnings to give to another? Surely if a private person took money from one person and gave it to another, we’d deem it theft and, as such, immoral. Does the same act become moral when Congress takes people’s money to give to farmers, airline companies or an impoverished family? No, it’s still theft, but with an important difference: It’s legal, and participants aren’t jailed.

— Dr. Walter E. Williams, The Morality of Economics.

No matter how worthy the cause, it is robbery, theft, and injustice to confiscate the property of one person and give it to another to whom it does not belong.

— Walter Williams

We have the right as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right to appropriate a dollar of the public money.

— Davy Crockett, Speech in the US House of Representatives

Once one accepts the principle of self-ownership, what’s moral and immoral becomes self-evident. Murder is immoral because it violates private property. Rape and theft are also immoral — they also violate private property.

— Walter Williams

Every man has a property in his own person. This nobody has a right to, but himself.

— John Locke, Second Treatise on Government

The system of private property is the most important guaranty of freedom, not only for those who own property, but scarcely less for those who do not.

— Friedrich Hayek

Private property was the original source of freedom. It still is its main bulwark.

— Walter Lippman

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.

— Milton Friedman

When a man assumes a public trust, he should consider himself as public property.

— Thomas Jefferson

If every man has freedom to do all that he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man, then he is free to drop connection with the state – to relinquish its protection and to refuse paying toward its support. It is self-evident that in so behaving he in no way trenches upon the liberty of others, for his position is a passive one, and while passive he cannot become an aggressor. It is equally self-evident that he cannot be compelled to continue one of a political corporation without a breach of the moral law, seeing that citizenship involves payment of taxes; and the taking away of a man’s property against his will is an infringement of his rights.

— Herbert Spencer

The property a man has in his own industry, is violated, whenever he is forbidden the free exercise of his faculties or talents, except insomuch as they would interfere with the rights of third parties.

— Jean-Baptiste Say, A Treatise On Political Economy
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[The right to property] is not the right to an object, but to the action and the consequences of producing or earning that object.

— Ayn Rand