Friedman: Champion of Freedom Whose Legacy Must Be Carried On

Aug 02, 2011

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Dr. Milton Friedman was one of the greatest champions of freedom in my lifetime and one of the greatest economists of all time.  On this day – what would have been his 99th birthday – we are inspired to preserve his memory and the wisdom of his free market philosophy.

Dr. Friedman’s philosophy can be summed up with his simple phrase: “There’s no free lunch.”  When it comes to politics, every dollar that is spent by government has to be paid for by someone else–either through taxes or borrowing or inflation.  Government cannot create wealth; it can only redistribute it.  And yet, far too often, redistributing wealth also destroys it. As Friedman pointed out, “One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results” and  “the government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem.”

Dr. Friedman’s 1962 treatise, Capitalism and Freedom, was a revelation for free-market  defenders – a rare jewel in the 1960s political culture that was madly in love with “Keynesianism” and “Big Government.”  His 1980 book, Free to Choose ­– the best-selling non-fiction book of that year – built on that work and helped pave the way for Reaganomics and the greatest boom in history.

In the 1980s and 90s, Dr. Friedman’s influence was remarkable.  In America and throughout the world, there was a consensus that low taxes, few regulations, balanced budgets, and sound money was the path to prosperity.  For some reason, we have strayed from that formula in recent years – and with disastrous consequences.  The time for a rediscovery of Milton Friedman has come.

Dr. Friedman once said, “Governments never learn. Only people learn.”  On this – Dr. Friedman’s 99th birthday – please spread the word about his ideas and his remarkable legacy.

Featured guest contributor Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers represents Washington’s 5th Congressional District and serves as vice chair of the House Republican Conference.

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