Squaring the Culture

"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

03/23/2009 (8:01 am)

Why Free Markets Are Best

Newsmax sent me a link to this telling exchange between Milton Friedman and Phil Donahue from 1979. Donahue unloads the full arsenal of mindless liberal guilt manipulation against Friedman’s free market capitalism, and Friedman tears it to pieces in less than 3 minutes. Listen and learn. Key portions are transcribed below:

Regarding the inequality between the haves and the have-nots:

In the only cases in which the masses have escaped the kind of grinding poverty you’re talking about, the only cases in recorded history are where they’ve had capitalism and largely free trade. If you want to know where the masses are worst off, it’s in exactly the kinds of societies that depart from that, so that the record of history is absolutely crystal clear that there is no alternative way so far discovered of improving the lot of ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by a free enterprise system…

Answering the challenge that capitalism does not reward virtue:

What does reward virtue? You think the Communist commissar rewards virtue? You think a Hitler rewards virtue? Excuse me, but do you think American Presidents reward virtue? Do they choose their appointees on the basis of the virtue of the people appointed, or on the basis of their political clout? Is it really true that political self-interest is nobler somehow than economic self-interest? Just tell me, where in the world do you find these angels who are going to organize society for us?

This exposes the true heart of socialist, Marxist, and American liberal thinking. The answer to the last question, “Where do you find these angels,” is invariably, in the mind of the liberal, “Me.” They think of themselves as angels, and of all others as fools; this is the always-unspoken, always-unrecognized assumption in all Utopian plans. They all fail at exactly the same point — those who think such thoughts are not only far from angels, but they’re the greatest fools of all. Friedman emphasizes this when he chides Donahue, “I don’t even trust you to do that,” nailing the fact that Donahue is at that very moment thinking “Let me do it.” And Friedman alludes to the problem earlier on: “Of course, none of us are greedy. It’s always the other fellow who is greedy.”

The human systems that work are those which recognize and structurally minimize the inherent weakness in human character, but which recognize and structurally liberate the inherent creativity in the human soul. Systems based on political self-interest and the innate goodness of leaders result in oppression, the only exceptions occurring when there is a truly extraordinary leader (and no, my liberal friends, Barack Obama is not one of those, and neither are you.) The unintended genius of the American system was that political self-interest was stymied by pitting political players against each other in a system structured to maximize political tension, while private, economic self-interest was given a free hand to grow. It was “unintentional” in that the focus lay entirely on creating the political tension, whereas the economic freedom was simply taken for granted.

Opposition to free markets arises from envy. Some people cannot accept the massive improvement in the well-being of the ordinary person because the same system also allows for disproportionate well-being for the exceptional. Because some people envy the exceptional, they aim to cripple them; but in so doing, they remove all possibility for ordinary people to prosper. The same system that permits ordinary people to prosper, permits extraordinary people to prosper extraordinarily; thus, the only way to permit ordinary people to prosper is to restrain one’s envy toward the extraordinary.

One cannot empower the weak by weakening the strong. If it were the strong who were holding the weak down, then weakening the strong might empower the weak. It’s not the strong who hold the weak down; the weak are held down by their own sin, and if one removes the strong, the sin remains in the weak and continues to hold them down. The only way weak people are made strong is by changing themselves.

The correct answer to Friedman’s challenge, “What does reward virtue,” is that God rewards virtue, independent of human systems, though He frequently uses human systems to send the reward. However, the greatest good to the greatest number occurs in a free economic system with severely limited government.

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