Best quotes by the American Economist Milton Friedman

There's no such thing as a free lunch.
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  • Work

The government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem.
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  • Government

The power to do good is also the power to do harm.
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  • Power

The problem of social organization is how to set up an arrangement under which greed will do the least harm, capitalism is that kind of a system.
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  • arrangement



Hell hath no fury like a bureaucrat scorned.
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  • Bureaucracy

Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it.
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  • Power

Governments never learn. Only people learn.
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  • Government

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

Never try to walk across a river just because it has an average depth of four feet.
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  • Risk

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

Many people want the government to protect the consumer. A much more urgent problem is to protect the consumer from the government.
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  • Government

The greatest advances of civilization, whether in architecture or painting, in science and literature, in industry or agriculture, have never come from centralized government.
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  • advances

Is it really true that political self-interest is nobler somehow than economic self-interest?
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  • economic

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

Only government can take perfectly good paper, cover it with perfectly good ink and make the combination worthless.
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  • politics

So the question is, do corporate executives, provided they stay within the law, have responsibilities in their business activities other than to make as much money for their stockholders as possible? And my answer to that is, no they do not.
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The great virtue of free enterprise is that it forces existing businesses to meet the test of the market continuously, to produce products that meet consumer demands at lowest cost, or else be driven from the market. It is a profit-and-loss system. Naturally, existing businesses generally prefer to keep out competitors in other ways. That is why the business community, despite its rhetoric, has so often been a major enemy of truly free enterprise.
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  • Business

The economic miracle that has been the United States was not produced by socialized enterprises, by government-union-industry cartels or by centralized economic planning. It was produced by private enterprises in a profit-and-loss system. And losses were at least as important in weeding out failures as profits in fostering successes. Let government succor failures, and we shall be headed for stagnation and decline.
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  • Business

History suggests that capitalism is a necessary condition for political freedom. Clearly it is not a sufficient condition.
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  • Capitalism

What kind of society isn't structured on greed? The problem of social organization is how to set up an arrangement under which greed will do the least harm; capitalism is that kind of a system.
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  • Capitalism

If even a small fraction of the money we now spend on trying to enforce drug prohibition were devoted to treatment and drug rehabilitation, in an atmosphere of compassion not punishment, the reduction in drug usage and in the harm done to users could be dramatic.
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  • Drugs

A major source of objection to a free economy is precisely that group thinks they ought to want. Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.
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  • Freedom

There was a time when we the U.S. had completely unrestricted immigration, when anybody could come to these shores and the motto on the Statue of Liberty had some real meaning. This was a country of hope and of promise for immigrants and their children, and as many as a million immigrants a year came in 1906 and '07 and '08. By 1914, roughly a third of the population was foreign-born or the immediate descendants of foreign-born...The fact that year after year hundreds of thousands of people left the countries of Europe to come to this country was persuasive evidence that they were coming to improve their lot, not to worsen it.
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  • Immigration

What does it mean to say that government might have a responsibility? Government can't have a responsibility any more than the business can. The only entities which can have responsibilities are people.
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  • Responsibility

Consider Social Security. The young have always contributed to the support of the old. Earlier, the young helped their own parents out of a sense of love and duty. They now contribute to the support of someone else's parents out of compulsion and fear. The voluntary transfers strengthened the bonds of the family; the compulsory transfers weaken those bonds.
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  • Welfare

Universities exist to transmit knowledge and understanding of ideas and values to students not to provide entertainment for spectators or employment for athletes.
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  • athletes

Well first of all, tell me, is there some society you know of that doesn't run on greed? You think Russia doesn't run on greed? You think China doesn't run on greed? What is greed?
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  • china

The world runs on individuals pursuing their self interests. The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus. Einstein didn't construct his theory under order from a, from a bureaucrat. Henry Ford didn't revolutionize the automobile industry that way.
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  • achievements

So 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.
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  • government

And what does reward virtue? You think the communist commissar rewards virtue? You think a Hitler rewards virtue? You think, excuse me, if you'll pardon me, 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?
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  • american

The Great Depression, like most other periods of severe unemployment, was produced by government mismanagement rather than by any inherent instability of the private economy.
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  • depression

I'm in favor of legalizing drugs. According to my values system, if people want to kill themselves, they have every right to do so. Most of the harm that comes from drugs is because they are illegal.
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  • according

I am favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it's possible.
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  • finance

The black market was a way of getting around government controls. It was a way of enabling the free market to work. It was a way of opening up, enabling people.
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  • black

The most important single central fact about a free market is that no exchange takes place unless both parties benefit.
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  • benefit

The most important ways in which I think the Internet will affect the big issue is that it will make it more difficult for government to collect taxes.
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The only way that has ever been discovered to have a lot of people cooperate together voluntarily is through the free market. And that's why it's so essential to preserving individual freedom.
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  • cooperate

Even the most ardent environmentalist doesn't really want to stop pollution. If he thinks about it, and doesn't just talk about it, he wants to have the right amount of pollution. We can't really afford to eliminate it - not without abandoning all the benefits of technology that we not only enjoy but on which we depend.
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  • environmentalism

It is because it's prohibited. See, if you look at the drug war from a purely economic point of view, the role of the government is to protect the drug cartel. That's literally true.
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  • drug


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Best Milton Friedman quotes

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