Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’


Friedman doesn’t dispute that people have responsibilities to other people, but rather that the government is simply an inefficient means to meet those responsibilities (by interfering with the free market, which Friedman asserts has been the best way to lift the greatest number out of poverty).  Furthermore, he argues that the government causes and maintains poverty in the case of black teenagers by failing to provide a decent education so that they fail to learn basic skills in government-run schools, and through the minimum wage which distorts the market, preventing more opportunities for work.

On the other hand, one of the moral cornerstones of the progressive movement is that but for the Civil Rights Act among others, and building the Great Society (and but for a group of people acting on principles, and eventually making those principles into laws and institutions) black folks would have remained not only excluded from the job market, but from the legal rights granted to citizens and held in slavery and bondage by the laws.

Here is Thomas Sowell (heavily influcenced by the same Austrian School Of Economics) debating welfare and schools with the then State Of Pennsylvania Secretary Of Welfare:

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

Addition: It just occurred to me that Friedman’s view of liberty is one of voluntary cooperative action.  Anything more is an injustice to the individual and a serious threat to individual liberty (transferring too much power to the State through social programs like Social Security, Welfare etc and the injustice of taxation upon individuals and the dangers of the well-intentioned and do-gooders from the New Deal on).  The voluntary exchanges that occur between people pursuing their own self-interest in the marketplace has been the greatest driver of human freedom and the greatest liberator from the natural human conditions of poverty, privation and want.  Friedman merges Adam Smith’s invisible hand and Thomas Jefferson’s separation of powers:  Free To Choose 

Noam Chomsky also shares a view that the individual ought to be free to enter into voluntary cooperative action (community councils or faculties in universities), but believes that to be achieved by perhaps only anarchy (where he retreats) or anarcho syndicalism, or libertarian socialism.  I don’t find anarchy to be tenable in protecting individual liberty.  Via Youtube: (1 of 3) Kant, Chomsky and the Problem of Knowledge.

Leo Strauss may not have been a believer, but he did want the individual to be free from the structures that developed in Europe these past centuries.  The triumph of Reason (historicism and positivism which lead to relativism and nihilism) over some form of Revelation, or revealed truth.  Harry Jaffa At The Claremont Institute: ‘Leo Strauss, the Bible, and Political Philosophy’

Food for thought.

Related On This Site:  How do conservatism and libertarianism deal with Martin Luther King…?:  Sunday Quotation: Edmund Burke On The French Revolution..

Robert George And Cornel West At Bloggingheads: “The Scandal Of The Cross”How does Natural Law Philosophy deal with these problems, and those of knowledge?

Walter Russell Mead says the Great Society is over:  A Few Thoughts On Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: “Why Blue Can’t Save The Inner Cities Part I”

From Reason.Tv: ‘NBC’s Education Summit-Joe Trippi, Michelle Rhee & More’From The Washington Post: ‘D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee To Announce Resignation Wednesday’

Michelle Rhee At Newsweek: “What I’ve Learned”Repost-’Too Much “Quality Control” In Universities?’

Robert Nozick merged elements of Kant and Locke into a strong, libertarian defense of the individual, and also responded to Rawls distributive justice: A Few Thoughts On Robert Nozick’s “Anarchy, State and Utopia”From Slate: ‘The Liberty Scam-Why Even Robert Nozick, The Philosophical Father Of Libertarianism, Gave Up On The Movement He Inspired.’

A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

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2 thoughts on “Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’

  1. i dont understand his argument that free markets have pulled more out of poverty. He speaks as if he is all about people, that he fights for the good of humanity, whilst arguing that a competition to see who can make the most money fuels less poverty? Money isn’t people, when you get drunk on making the most money – especially at a multi national corporate level like some fast food restaurants who have completely re shaped how america does food and completely destroyed how several agrarian societies farm – people get screwed, people are forgotten. f he is arguing that governments are at fault for not educating black kids is he going to pay for it? and if there is no minimum wage then not only will businesses start paying their workers even less, the off the book workers will get abused ever further.

    slave labour is rife not only internationally but at the door step of friedmans descendants homes but also in the experiments in free markets in meted out on the world whilst alive and now whilst dead through is disciples. he is a very good communicated, he is a very personable man but i can’t agree with his love of unfettered free markets because humans at our essence are easily distracted and easily deformed from our original utopian ideals.

    that said – india to an extent has pulled itself out of huge poverty but at the cost of the largest slave labour culture on the planet.

    so wheres the balance of carrot on a stick reward systems and sticking up for the helpless – what would solve it? what would it look like to solve that bottom 20 per cent? or is there a line that we draw? at the same time as those who are on top of the list that are retardedly rich?

  2. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    I’m generally in agreement with Friedman that attempting to force companies to submit to excessive regulation (companies are made up of people providing a good or a service, or some reason you give them your money) will distort the market in favor of a relative few, usually the regulators and their cronies. Oligarchy is a common human theme and you’re best off harnessing it (just how and how much is up for debate).

    Statistically, poor people in the United States are more well off in terms of material goods than just about anywhere. Relatively unregulated markets and a lack of central government (creating more and more bars to entry) planning have a lot to do with this. Life, liberty and property are generally secured by some form of government.

    One of Friedman’s main points is that most people love the idea of giving in the abstract, or some basic sense of fairness that is represented by an ideal, but once their own hard work and skill and ability is on the line….they and we are quite self-interested. This is quite natural. It is just as true with people on the top or bottom in companies or in governments (however you’d like to see them).

    Poverty, and this is where I don’t agree with progressives at all, quite frankly, is never going to be solved.. Companies are not necessarily working for the public good, though they can. They are working to stay alive and meet the goals of the people who make them up and the people they provide services to. It ain’t easy.

    They are obligated to work within the law, which you do have a say in as a voter, or a citizen capable of forming a group, or potentially a lawmaker or enforcement officer. Companies and the people in them can be ruthless, greedy, and can violate the law. Through competition and innovation they can lower the price of goods to such a level that the poor have access to those goods. They can provide people with wages, opportunities to develop skills and talents which are marketable to others. They give a sense of pride and value to people as well (though a lot of people I know don’t like working).

    People who work for companies usually enter into a contract, as determined by law. Most are not slaves in the U.S.

    In America, the case of slavery is an extreme: black Americans were taken against their will and held in slavery by the laws. Few black folks are in the Sowell/Freidman camp, but there are some. They couldn’t get educated, and they couldn’t get jobs.

    ***I’m not a total free-marketeer, but if you see Friedman as advocating a utopian set of ideals, then, I’d say the alternative utopias are worse.

    Poverty is miserable, and getting out of it can be like walking on a wire…please tell me you aren’t pushing an agrarian ideal (backbreaking labor, drought, hunger, being held to the land or the landowners or politically well-connected whims).

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