American Elephants


From Milton and Rose Friedman: by The Elephant's Child

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“If an exchange between two parties is voluntary, it will not take place unless both believe they will benefit from it.  Most economic fallacies derive from the neglect of this simple insight, from the tendency to assume that there is  a fixed pie, that one party can gain only at the expense of another.”

“Ironically, the very success of economic and political freedom reduced its appeal to later thinkers. The narrowly limited government of the nineteenth century possessed little concentrated power that endangered the ordinary man, The other side of the coin was that it possessed little power that would enable good people to do good. And in an imperfect world there were still many evils. Indeed, the very progress of society made the residual evils seem all the more objectionable. As always, people took the favorable developments for granted. They forgot the danger to freedom from a strong government. Instead, they were attracted by the good that a stronger government could achieve — if only government power were in the “right” hands.”

“…the depression was produced by a failure of government in one area–money– where it had exercised authority ever since the beginning of the Republic. However, governments’ responsibility for the depression was not recognized — either then or now. Instead, the depression was widely interpreted as a failure of free market capitalism. That myth led the public to join the intellectuals in a changed view of the relative responsibilities of individuals and government. Emphasis on the responsibility of the individual for his own fate was replaced by emphasis on the individual as a pawn buffeted by forces beyond his control. The view that government’s role is to serve as an umpire to prevent individuals from coercing one another was replaced by the view that government’s role is to serve as a parent charged with the duty of coercing some to aid others.”




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