Milton Friedman Quotes

When you start paying people to be poor, you wind up with an awful lot of poor people.

A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.

When a man spends his own money to buy something for himself, he is very careful about how much he spends and how he spends it. When a man spends his own money to buy something for someone else, he is still very careful about how much he spends, but somewhat less what he spends it on. When a man spends someone else’s money to buy something for himself, he is very careful about what he buys, but doesn’t care at all how much he spends. And when a man spends someone else’s money on someone else, he does’t care how much he spends or what he spends it on. And that’s government for you.

The essential notion of a capitalist society … is voluntary cooperation, voluntary exchange. The essential notion of a socialist society is force.

One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.

If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there’d be a shortage of sand.

Government has three primary functions. It should provide for military defense of the nation. It should enforce contracts between individuals. It should protect citizens from crimes against themselves or their property. When government– in pursuit of good intentions tries to rearrange the economy, legislate morality, or help special interests, the cost come in inefficiency, lack of motivation, and loss of freedom. Government should be a referee, not an active player.

The word ‘free’ is used three times in the Declaration of Independence and once in the First Amendment to the Constitution, along with ‘freedom.’ The word ‘fair’ is not used in either of our founding documents.

If you pay people not to work and tax them when they do, don’t be surprised if you get unemployment.

The only corporate social responsibility a company has is to maximize its profits.

Why have we had such a decline in moral climate? I submit to you that a major factor has been a change in the philosophy which has been dominant, a change from belief in individual responsibility to belief in social responsibility. If you adopt the view that a man is not responsible for his own behavior, that somehow society is responsible, why should he seek to make his behavior good?

The government doesn’t have any money. The only power it has is to take from some and give to others.

You cannot simultaneously have free immigration and a welfare state.

Anything that government can do, private enterprise can do for half the cost.

You cannot be sure that you are right unless you understand the arguments against your views better than your opponents do.

I would say that in this world, the greatest source of inequality has been special privileges granted by government.

A society that puts equality — in the sense of equality of outcome — ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom. The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom, and the force, introduced for good purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it to promote their own interests.

Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.

Inflation is the one form of taxation that can be imposed without legislation.

The great virtue of a free market system is that it does not care what color people are; it does not care what their religion is; it only cares whether they can produce something you want to buy. It is the most effective system we have discovered to enable people who hate one another to deal with one another and help one another.

The combination of economic and political power in the same hands is a sure recipe for tyranny.

The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus.

The key insight of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations is misleadingly simple: 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.

Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.

We have a system that increasingly taxes work and subsidizes nonwork.