Arnold Kling  

New Interview with Milton Friedman

Tax Reform... An Evolutionary Model of Depre...

Russ Roberts is the interviewer. To listen, go here. To read a transcript, go here.
I was struck by the following:

But it's always been true that business is not a friend of a free market...

the real problem here is where do you find the support for free markets? If free markets weren't so damn efficient, they could never have survived because they have so many enemies and so few friends. People think of capitalism or free markets as something that obviously is supported by business. People think that if a business party is a party in politics, it will promote free market. But that's wrong. It will be in the self-interest of individual businesses to promote a tariff here and a tariff there, to promote the use of ethanol...

This struck me because Robert Solow, who is in a different place on the political spectrum, says exactly the same thing. I believe that Solow would say that the implication is that government needs to have leaders who will stick up for the little guy. I believe that Friedman would say that the implication is that the little guy needs to stick up for small government.

Bryan will want to read the interview for Friedman's endorsement of the view that voters are rationally ignorant.

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COMMENTS (2 to date)
liberty writes:

This is very important. The left always conflates pro-business with libertarianism, when they have little in common. Pro-business can mean businesspeople who want to use government to prop them up - a kind of incomplete planned economy or fascism. The "opposite" anti-business may also be in favor of an incomplete planned economy, socialism. Libertarianism is orthogonal to both of those, it is the only one not in favor of planning the economy at all.

Now, the answer to this kind of truism - that both pro- and anti-business types are in favor of planning for their own reasons and the spirit of the free market is hard to find - is not to give up and fight for the kind of planning that you prefer over the other. You need not resign yourself to a planned economy and fight for the most benevolent dictator. Instead we must bring the old-liberal radical back, the American revolutionary. Its not to late to save the small government spirit of this country - most Americans still have it.

TGGP writes:

Yup. See #8 here and the business class vs the free market here.

It kind of reminds me of how many people assume economists are all right-wingers or libertarians when studies show they (the academic ones at least) tend to be moderate democrats, but less leftist than is the norm in academia.

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