Economics

Losing Our Religion

Do more than light a candle for the patron saint of capitalism

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Before he ran for president, Rudy Giuliani gave a couple hundred speeches a year all over the world, to all sorts of groups—business, philanthropic, political. He would often include a riff about how capitalism has improved more lives and done more to lift people out of poverty than any other economic system. The line was usually greeted by polite nods or even raised eyebrows, especially in Western Europe and the bluer precincts of the United States. But when I saw him deliver it in Poland and Russia, it killed.

In those former Communist countries, people burst into furious applause as their translators uncoded Rudy's ode to free markets. Having lived under centralized economies, they get it. We don't.

The speed with which venerable American institutions—Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Wachovia—have disappeared or been gobbled up is jarring. But in most cases, that's just creative destruction at work. What Joseph Schumpeter defined as "the process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one."

What's far more disconcerting is how quickly Americans seem willing to throw off our last few vestiges of freedom and adapt a nationalized, Washington, D.C.-based set of standards—replete with pay caps, government-preferred industries (and companies within those industries), and massive new government employment—all in the panicky name of "stability."

Even more startling is that this new economic catastrophe is only about four months old. This isn't the Joads eating dust and paper for 10 years—the stock market was at its all-time high in October 2007 and it has only been since this past October that things have gotten scary bad.

Many religions make saints out of those who refuse to reject their beliefs despite extreme duress. Jesus is a pretty good example, and then there's Count Valentine Potocki, a Polish aristocrat who converted to Judaism and was killed for refusing to renounce. He's been a hero to the Jewish people ever since. So why are Americans—the inventors of Google, the assembly line, and the Pocket Fisherman—suddenly so willing to ditch all we've known and put our trust in Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid?

My theory is that it's because no one is really standing up for capitalism. No one seems willing to make the case that life lived by one's own wits is, while arguably riskier and more nerve-wracking, better and more enjoyable than one lived under the yoke of big government. And when someone does try to stand up for freedom, he invariably sounds like a ranter, is called a Paultard (or some other schoolyard taunt) and is sent scurrying for cover.

It doesn't have to be this way. Someone could make the case for free markets, arguing that success only has value if failure is an option. He could do it in a way that regular people understand, in a way that even inspires people.

I know this because I saw it on YouTube—and so have almost 200,000 others.

In the grim old days of 1979, when statism was on the march and all but a few free market odd fellows were promoting economic freedom, Milton Friedman was interviewed on television by Phil Donahue. In full helmet-hair glory, Donahue asks the great professor whether the wealth gap and the divide between haves and have-nots proves that capitalism has failed, that "greed" has caused great suffering.

Donahue: "When you see around the globe the mal-distribution of wealth, the desperate plight of millions of people in undeveloped countries … when you see the greed and the concentration of power, do you ever have a moment of doubt about capitalism and whether greed is a good idea?"

Friedman: "The world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests. The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus. Einstein didn't construct his theory under order from a bureaucrat. Henry Ford didn't revolutionize the auto industry that way. In the only cases in which the masses have escaped from the kind of grinding poverty you're talking about, the only cases in recorded history are where they have had capitalism and largely free trade. If you want to know where the masses are worst off, it's exactly in the kinds of societies that depart from that. The record of history is absolutely crystal clear: that there is no alternative way so far discovered of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by a free enterprise system."

It is a joy to listen to Friedman's forceful and persuasive defense of capitalism. These two-and-a-half minutes should be mandatory viewing for every American. Especially those who believe that "stimulus" in the form of creating government jobs by confiscating the wealth of others will improve our nation's economy.

Ken Kurson, executive vice president of the political consulting firm Jamestown Associates, was the COO of Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign and coauthor with Giuliani of the No. 1 bestseller, Leadership.

NEXT: Highway Robbery

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  1. Friedman versus Phill Donohue in an intellecual debate. Next up Reason finds a long lost film of a 28 year old Micheal Jordan taking on Steven Hawking in a one on one basketball game.

    You guys really don’t like fair fights do you?

  2. Ken Kurson, executive vice president of the political consulting firm Jamestown Associates, was the COO of Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign and coauthor with Giuliani of the No. 1 bestseller, Leadership.

    For Realz?

  3. Ayn Rand on Donahue. I recommend a gram or two of psilocybin mushrooms before viewing.

  4. The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus. […] Henry Ford didn’t revolutionize the auto industry that way.

    This, right here, sums up very succinctly the problem with modern-day libertarianism: there’s no nuance. It absolutely blows my mind that Milton Friedman can say with a straight face that Ford built his empire from scratch, without the help of government. Have we forgotten the days when our transportation infrastructure (read: roads and rails) wasn’t built by the government? Why is Henry Ford lionized as a hero of capitalism when he built his empire (literally) on top of government-subsidized roads?

    Kevin Carson has a word for these kinds of government apologists: vulgar libertarians. As he puts it, “Vulgar libertarian apologists for capitalism use the term ‘free market’ in an equivocal sense: they seem to have trouble remembering, from one moment to the next, whether they’re defending actually existing capitalism or free market principles.” Henry Ford’s enterprise is an example of actually-existing capitalism that is far from the free market ideal, and yet people like Friedman are happy to extol it as the outgrowth of a free market. But it’s not, and to represent it as such is to sully the name of the free market. (Thirty years ago it would have been hard to convince people that roads and cars were a negative thing, but in this age of global warming and unsustainable sprawl, it’s easier to see why a corporatist model resulting in our current transportation/land use situation is far from ideal.)

  5. There are vulgar libertarians, Ra?ionalitate, but I’m not sure the relationship between Henry Ford’s success and public roads is the right example to use. Have you seen any old automobiling hobbyist magazines from the times when Ford’s cars were first catching on? Those cars were made to travel on what we would call dirt trails. Spending on decently-paved highways came later.

  6. In the grim old days of 1979, writes Ken Kurson, when statism was on the march and all but a few free market odd fellows were promoting economic freedom,

    Ah, plus ca change, non, mes amis?

  7. Before the gripers have their way with this comment thread, let me state the obvious: Milton Friedmn did a pure, unadulteratedly magnificent job in defending capitalism. We need more Friedmans today.

    You sad, grumpy, prozac-depleted purists on this forum who can’t see a half-full cup when it is thrown in their faces!

  8. Government is a parasite on the economy. Period. Whether some of that parasitism is needed is another argument, but the idea that the government drives the economy is totally laughable. Roads for cars came after cars, incidentally.

    I saw Friedman speak at a Cato conference in San Jose back in the 90s. Very impressive and very short ? I also met his son David, who was also impressive, though much more radically libertarian than his father.

  9. This, right here, sums up very succinctly the problem with modern-day libertarianism: there’s no nuance. It absolutely blows my mind that Milton Friedman can say with a straight face that Ford built his empire from scratch, without the help of government. Have we forgotten the days when our transportation infrastructure (read: roads and rails) wasn’t built by the government?

    *sigh* I’m tired of schooling idiots who expound on the auto industry either in the present or historically when they don’t fucking know shit about it.

    One of the reasons the Model T was such a success was that it could actually travewrse the complete crap unpaved roads, often no more than ruts, of the time. The government building modern paved roads came later.

  10. Why is Henry Ford lionized as a hero of capitalism when he built his empire (literally) on top of government-subsidized roads?

    Where’d the government get the money for roads? hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm? To build said “subsidized roads” the government required revenues derived from a tax base. For that tax base to expand sufficiently enough for the government to build the roads (in response to the increase in Automobile ownership, I must add) they needed an expanding base of wealth.

  11. “Government is a parasite on the economy. Period.”

    Yes I have long thought that myself.

    The very first dollar that government ever spent on anything came from a tax on wealth that had already been created by the private sector. The same thing is true of the last dollar government has spent and every single one in between.

  12. Friedman touches on a critical point here, namely the underlying assumption that there is some way to externally build a “virtuous” society. As he says, are political choices somehow inherently more virtuous than economic choices? The answer is clearly negative, and yet libertarians are often accused of utopianism.

    Allowing individuals to pursue their own goals in their own way with the belief that society as a whole will be better off is certainly no more utopian than the belief that by checking a (highly restricted) box every couple of years, that we will magically find a government full of philosopher kings who can mold society in their own image.

    All politically interested people spend a lot of time discussing what the government should or should not do. But the real argument is what the government can or can not do. The government cannot make a society “virtuous” or “fair”. This is not simply because it is entirely composed of flawed individuals, who have neither the information nor the incentive to make decisions for millions of other, flawed indivuals. It is because the only methods available to the government run directly counter to our notions of virtue. In fact, the methods that government uses help to create more inequality and internal strife.

    In short, the only way to reward and promote virtue is at the direct, individual level. Do the world a favor, and buy someone nice a free drink today.

  13. Somebody please find video of the entire interview.

  14. “Government is a parasite on the economy. Period.”

    too true.

  15. MILTON!!! Why has thou forsaken us?

    Oh right, still dead.

  16. Greed means you have more than you need, and you refuse to share with those who have less. That has nothing to do with Capitalism per se.

    Look what Statism has done to Africa. Guys get in power, then start nationalizing and grabbing everything in site, impoverishing entire countries, trashing their currencies,and running rough shod over the law.

    Capitalism minimizes the harmful effects of greed and corruption, but does not eliminate them.

    Bernie Madoff was corrupt and greedy, but he’s no Stalin.

    Read the article about the small town who was doing the traffic stops and stealing people’s stuff to pay for an extra cop that they didn’t need.

    Milton we miss you.

  17. What’s funny is that capitalism spreads out the evil that men do, while the various forms of statism help concentrate that evil. Which system is better?

  18. Capitalism provides the quickest correction when wrongdoing is uncovered. Compare/contrast Enron/FEMA

  19. Those cars were made to travel on what we would call dirt trails. Spending on decently-paved highways came later.

    The automobile and the roads rose in tandem – while the first car might have come before the first paved road, it would be a ridiculous fallacy of logic to think that this implies that the demand for cars would be anything like what it is today if it weren’t for the subsidized roads. Each mile of paved road (and remember there are two subsidies here – the accounting cost [or the cost of actually paving the road] and the opportunity cost [or the foregone revenues from investing in roads over something more profitable, which were obviously present or private enterprise would have taken up the task]) increased the utility of each automobile.

    And before anyone brings up user fees, I’d like to remind y’all that using user fees to cover the full accounting (note: not opportunity) cost of roads is a post-WWII innovation. In the formative years of the automobile, the subsidies were enormous.

    …for the government to build the roads (in response to the increase in Automobile ownership, I must add)

    This argument falls flat on its face when you realize that up until probably after WWII, only a minority of Americans owned cars. But even if a majority of Americans owned cars, does this make the subsidy and less unjust? Unless each American used cars in the same exact proportions, there is no way that using general revenues to build roads could ever be anything that ought to be defended by libertarians. But I have a feeling that won’t stop Reason’s commenters, who are only slightly less vulgar when it comes to transportation and land use than Reason contributers (some exceptions notwithstanding).

    …something else that I haven’t even mentioned is that aside from roads, there were plenty of ways that the government tilted the playing field in favor the internal combustion engine and against the private mass transit systems that proliferated before and around the turn of the century. There was the 5-cent cap on streetcar fares, zoning rules that limited density (which in turn stifles the ability of private mass transit firms to make profits), labor rules that discriminated against streetcars (when the streetcar companies tried to get away with using only one employee per car as opposed to two [as buses could do all along], unions and the public legislated that cost-saving measure out of existence), and on and on and on. While I don’t blame these things on Henry Ford (unlike the roads, which were heavily lobbied for by the automotive industry), these are concrete examples of how “government bureaus” shaped the outcome of American transportation and land use, rather than profit-driven entrepreneurs.

  20. The Government practically regulated railroads out of existence, to pave the way for the vastly more expensive and inefficient interstate trucking system. Ever notice that Ayn Rand’s heros were railroad people and not truckers?

  21. The automobile and the roads rose in tandem – while the first car might have come before the first paved road, it would be a ridiculous fallacy of logic to think that this implies that the demand for cars would be anything like what it is today if it weren’t for the subsidized roads.

    Sorry, the refutation of your point, made by several people here, isn’t a logical argument. We simply pointed to the well-documented history of the automobile in the United States.

    It’s up to you to figure out where your logic or data went off course. Or not.

  22. Capitaism runs on self-interest. Government runs on benevolence. Which commodity is in greater supply?

    As for the topic of the article. Why are there so few defenders of capitalism? I could give a long, complicated answer for that. But the short answer is that capitalism has never been popular. It’s always been a few individuals who are willing to say some unpopular truths who have been it’s defenders. Go back ten years, to the 1999 WTO summit in Seattle, and you’ll recall capitalism being just as untrendy then.

    It’s been the populists’ punching bag for centuries.

  23. The fact that the government has this compulsion to interfere with the marketplace doesn’t make its intervention necessary or desirable. The private sector couldn’t build roads? Huh?

    The evils done in the private sector dim into nonexistence in comparison to the evils done by the public sector. We’re a few hundred million behind in body count, for one.

    I don’t object to government; I just object to unlimited government and to government attempting to control things it doesn’t understand or has no business interfering with. Like the economy. The current activities to address the recession show an almost insane level of incompetence. . .yet there are people cheering it along. Why? Because of a desire to control everything. That’s the only possible reason.

  24. Why is Henry Ford lionized as a hero of capitalism when he built his empire (literally) on top of government-subsidized roads?

    Perhaps because utilizing a subsidized item is not the same as being directly subsidized. In other words, it’s like saying that Amazon.com wasn’t an innovator simply because they use the DARPA project known as the Internet. True, neither Ford nor Amazon would have arisen absent their associated subsidized infrastructures but that is not the same as saying they, themselves were subsidized into existence.

  25. In other words since the Government already stuck you with overpriced lemons, a lemonade stand is a pretty good bet to base a business off of.

  26. The problem is not capitalism, the problem is american “democracy” where those with money can buy whatever laws they want, to not only keep their money but to reduce competition and enable them to increase their profits … all at the expense of true capitalism.

    Companies that are “too big to be allowed to fail” do not come about in a true, competitive, capitalistic economy. So, can someone who is defending the status quo explain to me how we have these companies that are just so huge that if they failed, the whole economy would be irreparably harmed?

    I also blame financial marketing. Capitalism and marketing are two different things, and being able to market securities, whether they be stocks, mutual funds, or mortgage backed securities is just horrendously improper and against public policy. None of these stockbroker commission-earning snakeoil salesmen should be allowed to have jobs. Want to fix the economy? Make it a federal crime to recommend, for profit, the sale/purchase of any security. Boom – economy fixed overnight.

  27. Henry Ford’s enterprise is an example of actually-existing capitalism that is far from the free market ideal, and yet people like Friedman are happy to extol it as the outgrowth of a free market. But it’s not, and to represent it as such is to sully the name of the free market.

    This is absolutely right. It makes no sense to talk about the market at all in a society with a government. The presence of any regulation, subsidy, or government-run infrastructure is indistinguishable from a Soviet Five Year Plan.

    Thirty years ago it would have been hard to convince people that roads and cars were a negative thing, but in this age of global warming and unsustainable sprawl, it’s easier to see why a corporatist model resulting in our current transportation/land use situation is far from ideal.

    It’s a little known-fact that anarcho-capitalist societies will exemplify the power of the free market so much that issues like global warming will be solved decades before anyone actually being aware of the problem.

    >/sarcasm>

  28. Meh, I hate the way this thing handles HTML entities in preview.

  29. Perhaps because utilizing a subsidized item is not the same as being directly subsidized. In other words, it’s like saying that Amazon.com wasn’t an innovator simply because they use the DARPA project known as the Internet. True, neither Ford nor Amazon would have arisen absent their associated subsidized infrastructures but that is not the same as saying they, themselves were subsidized into existence.

    There’s a huge difference in the extent here. DARPA’s forays into network technology were but a blip compared to the various private sector advances that made it all possible. Not to mention that the DARPA stuff was a one-time thing, as opposed to pro-road/auto regulations/spending which have steadily increased since Ford’s day (minimum parking regulations, maximum density regulations, subsidized roads, labor barriers to both public and private mass transit, maximum amounts that streetcar operators were allowed to charge, etc.). Also, regarding the internet, let’s not forget that during the Cold War the government heavily crowded out private sector innovation due to its heavy defense spending – if it weren’t for all the scientists working for the government, they likely would have been out on their own coming up with their own innovations.

    In other words since the Government already stuck you with overpriced lemons, a lemonade stand is a pretty good bet to base a business off of.

    No doubt. But I don’t think we should be looking up to those lemonade stand entrepreneurs as heros of the free market. Especially if their lemons bread environmental catastrophe; blighted urban, suburban, and rural landscapes (ever notice how American cities’ prime real estate – waterfronts – are mostly taken up by elevated highways?); and provincialism.

  30. This is absolutely right. It makes no sense to talk about the market at all in a society with a government. The presence of any regulation, subsidy, or government-run infrastructure is indistinguishable from a Soviet Five Year Plan.

    Thanks for the lovely straw man…I will love and cherish him forever.

  31. Thanks for the lovely straw man.

    Until and unless you can distinguish yourself from such nuance-free positions as your first comment here, you’ll see plenty more. 🙂

  32. Great piece.

    Capitalism and Freedom remains one of the most important books ever written.

    “The government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem. ” — Milton Friedman.

  33. OK, I see, Ra?ionalitate, you’re really talking about the success of the automobile in general, not Henry Ford’s success in particular. Sure, the success of the automobile is tied up with lots of government road building to the point where we’ll never know if they could have been a success without it.

    But, wasn’t Friedman’s original quote simply about Henry Ford revolutionizing the auto industry? Seems like you changed the subject.

  34. OK, I see, Ra?ionalitate, you’re really talking about the success of the automobile in general, not Henry Ford’s success in particular. Sure, the success of the automobile is tied up with lots of government road building to the point where we’ll never know if they could have been a success without it.

    …false? The “Good Roads” movement started well in advance of Ford’s 1908 invention. Not only that, but Henry Ford’s success was deeper than just the 1908 Model T – even if you ignore all the subsidized road-building being done before 1908, it would be pretty difficult to ignore the road projects that went on between 1908 and 1918 (when Ford stepped down from the presidency of his eponymous company)

  35. There’s a huge difference in the extent here. DARPA’s forays into network technology were but a blip compared to the various private sector advances that made it all possible.

    Nice blog post you got there but you overlooked the one huge “blip” that made the internet what it is today, the invention of the Web and the first browser by Tim Berners-Lee at the completely government founded, funded and run CERN.

  36. No one seems willing to make the case that life lived by one’s own wits is, while arguably riskier and more nerve-wracking, better and more enjoyable than one lived under the yoke of big government.

    Perhaps a few hermit woodsmen. Most people in this country live in a community that depends on non-market-based infrastructure and rules. And lives that are riskier are lives that, on the aggregate, end sooner and are less enjoyable for more people. We’re all about majoritarian democracy here, right? Let’s see if an informed electorate would ever prefer a riskier life over a safer one just because it’s more fun that way.

    “These two-and-a-half minutes should be mandatory viewing for every American.

    Wouldn’t that require a vast government imposition. 😉

  37. That’s me in the corner.

  38. BruceM,
    The problem is not capitalism, the problem is American “democracy” where those with money can buy whatever laws they want, to not only keep their money but to reduce competition and enable them to increase their profits … all at the expense of true capitalism.

    Absolutely true, Bruce, but you can say all of this by the use of the proper term: Fascism. That word encompasses the gamut of government-big business-pressure groups relationships.

  39. Most people in this country live in a community that depends on non-market-based infrastructure and rules.

    That’s begging the question – people live in communities, that is true, but that does not mean the communities require non-market based infrastructures. As far as I have seen, houses are still made by the private sector, and so is cable TV. Besides this, Law was not written by extremely sage and wise people before anyone else figured it is bad to steal, cheat or kill.

    And lives that are riskier are lives that, on the aggregate, end sooner and are less enjoyable for more people. We’re all about [democracy by majority] here, right? Let’s see if an informed electorate would ever prefer a riskier life over a safer one just because it’s more fun that way.

    Let me know if its excusable for a majority to decide how the minority is to live their lives, even if they prefer to live riskier, more dangerous lives, and I will show you a self-righteous collectivist.

  40. I just saw the vid, and I have to say Milton Friedman is one of the best debaters I have ever seen. You debate by destroying the other side’s faulty assumptions, and in this case, Phill Donahue was really giving Friedman an easy time. I always liked seeing Donahue because he invited very bright people to discuss current events, and he did not shy away from a good debate. It was a shame his style was not able to compete with trash TV like Jerry Springler’s.

    Still, I always saw Donahue as the unrepentant leftist, not willing to concede he had wrongly assumed many things, and especially after seeing this 1979 interview, I remembered that in many discussions between conservatives and Donahue during the 80s, Phill used the same platitudes he used in this interview with Friedman.

  41. Let me know if its excusable for a majority to decide how the minority is to live their lives

    It’s not, I agree with this part. I live in a state where it was once criminal to perform certain widespread sex acts and where it’s still criminal to ingest minimally dangerous substances. The people responsible for these invasions of privacy are incidentally the most ardent defenders of the free market as well.

    even if they prefer to live riskier, more dangerous lives

    Certainly this must come with the caveat that the risk you take can’t make others’ lives riskier against their will.

    So while I think that reasonable people can disagree about the extent to which government should act in our lives, and wholeheartedly feel that one’s personal choices in life should be as free as possible, I simply don’t agree that it’s either in most people’s best interest or related in any way to personal liberty to have an unfettered economy. I value maximizing liberty, and consider it an essential role of democratic government. But liberty doesn’t mean the ability to harm others, and unregulated industry as well as risky personal behavior can harm people.

    I enjoy the fact that you can’t drive on the wrong side of the road with impunity. It makes my life freer. I simply extend that argument to the economy, which I don’t regard as a sacred cow immune from the types of restrictions placed on all other aspects of human activity.

  42. “The “Good Roads” movement started well in advance of Ford’s 1908 invention. Not only that, but Henry Ford’s success was deeper than just the 1908 Model T – even if you ignore all the subsidized road-building being done before 1908, it would be pretty difficult to ignore the road projects that went on between 1908 and 1918 (when Ford stepped down from the presidency of his eponymous company)”

    And specifically what good roads projects were done prior to 1912-1913 and the Lincoln Highway (which, incidentally, was initiated not by the government, but by private enterprise).

  43. Good work, Kurson! But stop blaming the American People:

    What’s far more disconcerting is how quickly Americans seem willing to throw off our last few vestiges of freedom and adapt a nationalized, Washington, D.C.-based set of standards-replete with pay caps, government-preferred industries (and companies within those industries), and massive new government employment-all in the panicky name of “stability.”

    Look to the polls, always look to the polls. Americans are not in such a hurry as you imply. We’re good people. We’re just poorly led.

  44. If only he’d spoke out more forcefully against a monetary czar. The Chicago school took his weak approval of the Federal Reserve and monetary expansionism and used it to justify what we see today.

  45. That Rand on Donahue vid is wonderful. And I’m not a big Rand fan. What an honest-to-God exchange Donahue has with her, and Phil’s audience of right-on sisters are excellent as well. And that synth-string theme song I had forgotten about — has civilization ever been more civilized? I’m going to take this moment to start my own old-fogeydom by saying these punks today could never put on such a fine hour of television.

  46. You can watch the entire “Free to Choose” series for free here:
    http://www.ideachannel.tv
    It’s around 10 hours long, but it’s well worth watching the whole thing.

  47. Capitalism is just a system and, to paraphrase Churchill, it is the worst with exception of every other we’ve ever tried.

    Treating it as a religion would make it as dangerous as any other faith-based system. Unfettered capitalism is as destructive of free enterprise as central planning is. (The richest can outspend the others just as well as a state can out rule them.)

    And free enterprise is the real engine of progress not capitalism.

  48. Hey Ken, how ’bout a few verses of “Hop in the Stanza”?

  49. Capitalism vs. Communism.

    Black Vs. White.

    Simplistic & Overreaching Vs. Honest & Complex

  50. Think of it like this…
    Imagine how free you’d be if there were no police/market regulation. Sure there would be the occasional theft/recessions, and maybe your daughter would be raped/loss all her money, but in the end we would all be freer to do what we wanted/take other peoples money, without worrying about law enforcement/justice.

  51. Wait, I finally get it…

    “When you see around the globe the mal-distribution of wealth, the desperate plight of millions of people in undeveloped countries”

    “The world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests.”

    The people in the third world just don’t WANT it enough. You got to really WANT to not die from malnutrition.

    Supply and Demand

  52. You got it, Barry:
    Hop in the Stanza — I drive downtown to see you at the Lab School
    Hop in the Stanza — My head feels hot but my hands are a clammy kind of cool
    Hop in the Stanza — You call me Kenny Benny, what a load of shit
    Hop in the Stanza — Now I don’t need you, I don’t need you one bit

  53. And specifically what good roads projects were done prior to 1912-1913 and the Lincoln Highway (which, incidentally, was initiated not by the government, but by private enterprise).

    Seriously?? Tons! I usually hate people who say “Look it up!” without providing an answer, but in this case I’m going to have to leave it as an exercise for yourself. (The Lincoln Highway may have been the first federally financed road – I’m not sure about that – but government-built and -maintained roads were definitely not an foreign to Americans before 1912.)

    As for the Lincoln Highway being “initiated” by private enterprise as opposed to government, this is true, but “initiated” is all the private sector did – it was paid for and constructed by government. The Lincoln Highway Wikipedia article is for the most part uncited, but I’d like to quote from it anyway:

    Henry Ford, the biggest automaker of his day, refused to contribute because he believed the government should build America’s roads.

    And here’s another one:

    Fisher’s idea that the auto industry and private contributions could pay for the highway was abandoned early, and while the LHA did help finance a few short sections or roadway, the contributions of LHA founders and members were used primarily for publicity and promotion to encourage travel on the Highway, and for lobbying of officials at all levels for support construction by governments.

    The public paid for lobbyists to convince the government to build Lincoln Highway out of taxpayers’ money – they did not pay for the road itself.

  54. The people in the third world just don’t WANT it enough. You got to really WANT to not die from malnutrition.

    Supply and Demand

    If we take the pharmaceutical industry as a guide, the demand for Viagra must be a million times greater than the demand for malaria and AIDS drugs. Who knew flaccidity was a more widespread problem than death and disease?

  55. “If we take the pharmaceutical industry as a guide, the demand for Viagra must be a million times greater than the demand for malaria and AIDS drugs. Who knew flaccidity was a more widespread problem than death and disease?”

    Tony, tony, tony. Sigh.

    If third world populations, the main victims of AIDS and malaria, had the same purchasing power as westerners, you bet the pharmas would be intereted.

    Have you noticed that AIDS drugs, which have customers in the developed world, have made more progress than malaria drugs which have only victims but no customers.

    Their is a difference between demand and need.

  56. Lew Rockwell stands up for capitalism and freedom, six days a week, every week.

    Reason does a fairly good job, too, although with far too many caveats and compromises.

  57. Think of it like this…
    Imagine how free you’d be if there were no police/market regulation. Sure there would be the occasional theft/recessions, and maybe your daughter would be raped/loss all her money, but in the end we would all be freer to do what we wanted/take other peoples money, without worrying about law enforcement/justice.

    I think of it like this:

    Without government-run security and dispute resolution services, I could hire both from competitive providers, and expect them to be more customer-oriented and efficient.

    Perhaps there would be occasional robberies and assaults, but we have those now. We also have the government robbing us directly from our paychecks every two weeks.

    Why applaud when 20 to 50 percent of your money is being stolen automatically, just to prevent the 5 percent chance that someone might rob you once in a while? Especially when the government doesn’t even prevent anything anyway.

  58. Donahue is actually right about what Capitalism has become, privileged of the well connected. It now has many of the characteristics that Friedman was critical of. Perhaps Friedman was also not aware of how monetarism would play a role in bringing the market system down.

    Reason and Cato would do well by abandoning the monetarists making peace with the Austrian schoolers and moving forward.

  59. kurson is right about much of what he says, but he’s wrong abouta the economic crisis being only four months old. Maybe for those people at the top. Maybe in terms of the markets, but the american average joe has been suffering flat wages for a long time. I’ve been seeing economic crisis at my house for the last three years. Also, the cap on salaries is for those who want a hand out. Why does Ken have a problem with that? Those who choose not to take the handout are failing in the way he thinks is ok. They don’at have to take the handout, but if they are, I don’t want them spending my hard earned dollars living in an obscene manner while I count pennies to pay my daily toll to work. When I don’t have it, I have to get up an hour earlier and go to work the long way. And get home an hour later. Which means I spend less time with my kids. And these people what a golden parachute on my money? I agree with the essence of this article, but not some of the details.

  60. Thanks a whole lot for so beneficial written piece. Outstanding job!

  61. economic freedom, capitalism, the greed nature of human,all of this build up this society.all things have two sides,there is no doubt we live a good life more better than the past.on the other hand,we suffer from the institution too much at present.

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