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

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

— Milton Friedman

Hell hath no fury like a bureaucrat scorned.

— 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

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

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

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 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

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

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

— 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

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

— Milton Friedman

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

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

— 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

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

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

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

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

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

— Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom

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

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

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

— 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

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

— 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

Governments never learn. Only people learn.

— Milton Friedman

Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.

— Milton Friedman

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